Gizmodo found a gem in its inbox earlier this week, when it received emails from Microsoft detailing the company’s plans to get press coverage for its new Skype chatbots.
The incriminating messages included a dossier on Fast Company reporter Mark Sullivan, who Microsoft hoped would interview its corporate vice president about the bot announcement. Here’s what it looks like:
The file includes notes on Sullivan’s areas of focus, his “writing style,” and the frequency of his coverage of Skype. The emails were mistakenly sent to Gizmodo by an employee at Waggener Edstrom, a PR firm that handles communications for Microsoft.
It’s not the first time the company’s been found keeping tabs on journalists. In 2007, Fred Vogelstein of Wired received an email from Microsoft and WE containing a 5,500-word dossier about himself.
To be fair, it’s hard to find a person who hasn’t accidentally hit ‘send’ or mistakenly CCed someone they didn’t mean to. It must certainly be interesting for Sullivan to learn what Microsoft thinks about him and his work. Gizmodo notes that he wasn’t mad about it.
I don’t assume that companies have files on me, but personally, I wouldn’t be upset either. As Vogelstein explained nearly a decade ago, high-profile interviews and stories will almost certainly involve both parties doing their research on each other’s backgrounds in order to come prepared.
Hopefully, this will serve as a reminder to us all to carefully check our email recipients before hitting ‘send’, and keep us out of trouble we can do without.