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PR Week and The Holmes Report carried an obituary for Pam Edstrom who passed away last night. I worked at her agency for a few years and came across her a few times.
Pam had an intensity and an energy to her. She was also a true believer; you could break her open like a stick of rock and there would be the Windows squares running through her. For many years Pam Edstrom was the media voice of Microsoft. She had a tremendous belief in the ability of IT to deliver tremendous things. If you’ve read this blog you’d realise that I’m not a true believer in the same way that Pam Edstrom was; we were on opposite sides of the Windows | Mac (and Unix) religious divide.
Pam had an absolute focus on controlling the message and organisational process (optimised for alignment to Microsoft) and championed ‘gold standard’ delivery. Over time Microsoft came to represent more than half the agency billings.
My Pam Edstrom story
When I worked at the agency building digital capability, I also was assigned to keeping the company name in the usual industry debates. I found it handy to do as it kept my PR skills warm as I did the nascent digital work at the time. I managed to keep a constant drip feed of coverage in the industry media.
At the last minute I was asked to arrange a profile of Pam. Clare O’Connor who worked at PR Week at the time agreed to write a profile – Pam Edstrom, the doyenne of tech PR. Give it a read as it captures Pam quite well.
The article was taking ages to come out as it was ‘evergreen’ appearing some six months after the interview had taken place. Clare asked Pam for the name of a journalist who she interview for colour about Pam Edstrom.
The article threw a bit of a curveball when a longtime journalist contact was asked about Pam Edstrom and referred to her daughter Jennifer’s book Barbarians led by Bill Gates. The initial reaction from Pam Edstrom was to tell PR Week that if they ran a story mentioning ‘the book’, they would never get a Waggener Edstrom story again. I pointed out that we didn’t have that outsize an impact in the marketing press, that Microsoft had in the enterprise tech press and PR Week wouldn’t care.
I never did hear if Pam got to thank the New York Times’ Steve Lohr for bringing up that book. More information here.