Apple gets back to fundamentals with PR efforts

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  • 2/26/2013
    An interesting thing happened at Apple in late January: The company issued a press release to announce the availability of iOS 6.1. The software update itself wasn’t exactly a big deal – it brought LTE capabilities to more wireless networks, and allowed users to purchase movie tickets through Siri and download individual songs from iCloud.

    But it was particularly because iOS 6.1 wasn’t a big deal that the press release to announce it was.

    As Matthew Schwartz wrote on the PR News Blog, Apple has been “notorious for treating PR as a marginal asset, at best.” Schwartz went on to explain that Apple hasn’t felt the need to make announcements for news of this nature in the past.

      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.

    Times have changed. For the first time in recent memory, Apple is facing some negative publicity for issues ranging from a dropping stock price to the debacle that was the launch of Apple Maps last fall.

    At its peak, Apple could get away with marginalizing public relations. But now that the company’s reputation is starting to lose a bit of its luster, that’s no longer the case. So, Apple is getting back to the PR basics to rehab its image.

    Too often, organizations think about PR only when they have big news – a shiny new product, a major event. But good public relations practices go beyond the headline moments (good and bad). Good PR means cultivating and maintaining relationships with the media. If “publicity” is the sizzle, then the “relations” component is the steak.

    In Apple’s case here, that means finally loosening up and being a little more accommodating to journalists.

    But why does it even matter? Thanks to social media and company news pages, organizations can control their message better than ever, right? Not entirely. For all those exciting new channels marketers have to work with, earned media – coverage that is not paid for – is still the most trusted by the public. In other words, you could say it’s the holy grail.

    The time for treating PR as “a marginal asset, at best” is over in Cupertino, if the iOS 6.1 press release is any indication. If your organization has similarly ignored good day-to-day PR practices, it might be time for you to rethink things too.

    About the author::

    Tom Valentino is a communications professional, social media and technology enthusiast, and Cleveland and Ohio University sports diehard. If he’s not pitching the next big story, there’s a good chance he’s watching today’s episode of “The Price is Right.”
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