As tech giants like Facebook, Twitter and Google continue to battle fake accounts, data leaks and calls for government regulation, one company has remained relatively unscathed in the fight to maintain personal privacy and security. From refusing to hand over the San Bernadino shooter's iPhone data to authorities in 2016 to calling for GDPR standards in the U.S. in 2018, Apple has made headlines over the last few years for its strong stance on protecting user data.
With CEO Tim Cook at the forefront, Apple has built its reputation around advocating for user privacy. Cook's thought leadership has been apparent in myriad op-eds and interviews, including a recent article for TIME on how users can act to take their privacy back from bad actors. Compare Cook's active protection of users to Tesla head Elon Musk's Twitter troubles: There's no question a well-written missive from the C-Suite can make or break company reputation and goodwill with stakeholders.
Here are three ways Cook's article made use of thought leadership best practices:
Writing in the second person. Cook makes use of the pronouns "you" and "yours" throughout the piece, making for a strong call-to-action. Reading a sentence like "Let’s be clear: you never signed up for that," makes one feel like one of the world's most powerful business leaders is speaking directly to them—and what's more, he's got your back.
A solution-oriented proposal. Rather than naming names and railing at competitors for compromising their customers' data in the first place, Cook offers a specific solution to violation of user privacy. He suggests a Federal Trade Commission registry for data brokers selling users' information, showing he's pursuing tangible results rather than a vague notion that companies can and should do better to protect consumers.
Weaving in the company mission. While speaking directly to the reader, Cook also refers to Apple as "we," detailing company beliefs and values as they relate to the subject matter. For instance, "We think every user should have the chance to say, 'Wait a minute. That’s my information that you’re selling, and I didn’t consent.' " Notably, Cook does not mention the Apple once during the post. He's taking a stand as an individual representing a group, without pushing the brand itself on the reader. Putting the audience first goes much father in building goodwill with audiences than "push" marketing tactics, patting them on the back all the while.
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