Back in early February I wrote a story about my local media's brouhaha over whether beknighted Bill Gates was aboard Paul Allen's ship cruising Antarctica or not. I approached the story with scepticism, considering the source, and wrote: "this scribbler was unable to find out if Sir William was there or not, but it seems Paul Allen's little boat is definitely is down here, that's for sure. If you see the camera-shy BillG walking anywhere else, let us know. Or ask quiet, whispering Ballmer"
Waggener Edstrom runs the Vole's "Rapid Response Team"
Since the local media, and even international rags continued running stories entitled "Gates travels to Antarctica" and I knew, thanks to one of our readers, that Mr. Gates, at least initially, wasn't aboard the boat because the same day he gave a lecture at a conference, I had to do something. Our reader Greg told us on the day we ran our initial story: "Bill Gates was in San Francisco today, and gave the keynote address at the RSA conference (at 8 a.m.)" so he couldn't be aboard Paul Allen's ship at the same time.
In order to seek an official statement from the corporation, that same morning I asked the Powers that Be, for an official quote. An e-mail was dispatched towards Waggener Edstrom's - Microsoft's PR spining agency - "Worldwide Rapid Response Team", whose e-mail address is listed over here, under the heading "Miscellaneous inquiries (Media only)". Gates' whereabouts and activities certainly seemed to qualify as a "miscellaneous inquiry" to me.
International media from Spain continued claiming Gates was cruising Antarctica, when an INQ reader said he was at the RSA conference
A reply surprisingly arrived by the afternoon on the same day: "I am happy to look into this request for you. Please give me a chance to connect with my colleagues, and I will update you as soon as I have more details to share. In the meantime, please let me know if there is a deadline I can keep in mind for this. Thanks". To which I replied it would be great if I could have a reply during the next day. I thought 24 hours was more than enough to pick up a phone and find out if most of the Spanish-speaking media down under were releasing incorrect information about the founder of MSFT. That was a story in itself.
To my amusement, nothing happened. By February 12, five days later, I got a reply: "Thank you for your note, and for your continued patience as I look into this request. I am sorry I did not get back to you sooner -- I am afraid I am still looking into this". They were still trying to find Gates!. By then, Paul Allen's ship would probably have made a few circles around the World, and the story was no longer relevant. Five days and still looking? Sheesh!. I didn't respond to their reply due to its risible nature. With some luck, Waggener Edstrom's "Rapid Response Team" is still trying to find where Gates is at. µ