Microsoft has hired public relations specialist Mark Penn, a former advisor to both Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, to lead a small team of managers within the company focused on consumer-related initiatives.
Penn, the CEO of the public relations firm Burston-Marsteller, has been given the title of corporate vice president of strategic and special projects, and will report directly to CEO Steve Ballmer. Penn "will lead a small interdisciplinary team," focused on consumer initiatives, Microsoft said in a statement Thursday.
“Mark has an incredible background in research, demographics, marketing and positioning and a proven history in developing unique insights that drive success,” Ballmer said.
Penn worked for former President Bill Clinton for several years as a political strategist and pollster; he achieved noteriety by helping Clinton with damage control during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Penn later worked as a chief strategist on Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign but resigned amind reports of internal conflicts within the campaign.
Microsoft said Penn's experience in strategic development, branding and positioning would help him in his new job.
Along with his Burston-Marsteller post, Penn, 58, is also CEO of the polling firm Penn Schoen Berland LLC. He has also provided strategic consulting services to a number of Fortune 500 companies, including Ford Motor Co., Intel Corp. and – since 1998 – Microsoft.
Penn authored the book "Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes," and regularly contributes to national publications such as Time Magazine and The Atlantic. Microsoft said Penn would continue to write, but he won't be involved in public policy issues for Microsoft.