Will PR now Become Part of Apple’s Core?

Posted on February 6, 2013 
Filed Under General

It may not equal Jonas Salk discovering the polio vaccine or Albert Einstein discovering the theory of relativity, but Apple Inc.’s recent discovery of public relations is worth noting.

For years the technology and consumer-products giant was notorious for treating PR as a marginal asset, at best.

With its digital products having cornered the market on “cool,” a stock price hovering in the $440-range and a market capitalization of roughly $415 billion—not to mention the typically glowing articles in the media—the Apple brand has been the closest thing to a deity in the global economy.

Perhaps that deification was a function of Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, who during live events personally introduced Apple’s major products (iPhone, iPad), sprinkling the presentations with his own brand of showmanship.

The media ate it up and subsequently ran delicious stories about Apple. Nevertheless, the company has been a poster child for stingy communications.

It’s been nearly a year and a half since Jobs died, and Apple CEO Tim Cook appears to be taking a slightly different approach to public relations.

Last week the company issued a press release to announce it was upgrading its mobile operating system from iOS 6 to 6.1, according to The Wall Street Journal. “It was the first time Apple has issued an official press release for a non-major mobile software release unrelated to a new device since 2010,” the report said.

The report added that Apple’s PR team has started to ramp up the number of third-party reports about the company that it sends to reporters, such as a study that predicts Apple will be as accepted in the enterprise by 2014 as Microsoft is today.

The report in the Journal, as well as several other media outlets, stressed that Apple’s current PR strategy is likely a response to a spate of negative stories about Apple’s declining stock price, flattening profits and increasing competition.

It would be a disheartening if Apple’s current PR blitz turned out to be just a blip on the screen and the company reverted back to espousing secrecy as a communications strategy.

In a digital (and extremely fluid) era, that would be a mistake. Surely, there is now some young genius banging away at his or her computer keyboard or crafting a new algorithm that will eventually give today’s digital titans a run for their money. Apple needs to more communicative about its future prospects.

Right now Apple can afford to do as it pleases, PR or no PR. But, in the long run, thinking that the media laurels will last forever is a gamble. As it gets further into a post-Jobs era, Apple could do a lot worse than giving its PR crew more of an opportunity to shine.

-  Matthew Schwartz   @mpsjourno1

 

Comments

  • http://leonardsipes.com Leonard Sipes

    Apple and Public Relations-The Chickens Have Come Home to Roost

    BY ADMIN ON MARCH 18, 2013

    http://leonardSipes.Com and http://MyLifeAudio.Com

    As I sit here I notice that my Apple stock keeps falling.

    As I listen to my tech podcasts I hear hosts lambast Apple as a company that has lost its edge. One went so far as to recently proclaim, “Die Apple, die.”

    Listening to a variety of podcasts and reading tech-related journalists I’ve come to find that they’ve been punished by Apple in the past for negative views or caustic comments.

    As a result, they were not invited to Apple events. They don’t get interviews with Apple executives. They don’t get access to new products before they hit the street.

    Apple is legendary as to product secrets (necessary for the industry) and not answering questions. They are not transparent.

    When Steve Jobs was alive his nasty replies and e-mails to detractors were legendary.

    And now there is a backlash. More and more I hear instances of Apple bashing.

    There are repercussions for bad or perceived arrogant behavior.

    Apple confused many of us in PR:

    I type this on my MacBook Pro. While commuting to D.C. I listen to my iPod touch (one of the great inventions of our time) and talk to my wife on her iPhone. We both agree that our next desktop will be a Mac. We made these decisions based on the legendary reliability, simplicity and outstanding service offered by Apple.

    But when I teach public relations and answer PR questions I encounter people who considered Apple a marketing mastermind.

    People make the mistake of seeing successful people or concepts and think they can and should emulate them. Without context, that’s a very big mistake.

    The rules of engagement:

    The media has rules of engagement. They know that some politicians will stretch the truth to the breaking point (but that’s what some politicians do). Reporters don’t go for the jugular; they expect a level of opinion-based information.

    There are people and organizations get passes by the media; let’s just admit that Apple got favorable consideration in the past. Media celebrated the genius of Apple.

    When Steve Jobs was alive Apple didn’t do focus groups. In fact, one commentator stated that the day Apple does focus groups; Apple would cease to be Apple.

    Really? You don’t listen to your customers? You create products or services based solely on your perception as to what people want?

    Let’s apply that principle to our Presidents. “I know what the people want,” states President X. “Just let me decide. Please shut up and stay out-of-the-way.”

    “Hell, the people don’t know what they want anyway.”

    Steve Jobs was so paranoid of media that he handpicked favorite mainstream reporters and barred anyone from Apple events that dared to say anything negative. He avoided most tech reporters.

    Flat-out wrong:

    But anyone claiming Jobs or Apple to be a marketing genius is flat-out wrong. He did a lot of things that would get just about anyone else fired or his company or agency pilloried by the press.

    There are politicians who stretch the truth. There are sports and entertainment figures who can say the silliest things. All escape harsh media repercussions because, quite frankly, the expectations are low.

    When your child spends the day playing with his iPad and your husband spends his evening editing family video on a Mac and when your iPhone gets you to your destination (not so much lately) you as a mainstream reporter tend to give Apple a pass.

    Now all that seems to becoming to an end.

    But for the rest of us:

    But for the rest of us, we had dammed better listen to our customers and take the time to interact with them respectfully.

    We must respect the press and treat all fairly. It’s professional death not to.

    We live in a world where media and social media define who we are.

    Steve Jobs and Apple have a huge impact on our lives and we should be endlessly grateful for their contributions.

    But for those representing government, associations, nonprofits and companies, the PR legacy of Apple should not be emulated.

    One day when you stumble, your legacy will catch up to you. You may not like the results.

    Best, Len.

    If you like this article, please comment, share or follow. Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/LeonardSipes

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