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Recognizing competitive threats, Apple subtly increases its PR activity


February 6, 2013

When Apple issued a press release last week to announce it was upgrading its mobile operating system, it was the first time since 2010 that the company had put out a press release unrelated to a new device.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, Apple’s new mobile software lets users order movie tickets through a “virtual assistant” and adds faster network support for some European carriers. The news release is part of an increase in PR activity from a company that is usually secretive and press-shy but lately has been recognizing competitive threats. 
 
Apple has sent journalists favorable third-party reports about the company five times since the start of the year, mostly related to its mobile market share. Even as rivals such as Samsung Electronics are starting to steal buzz and sales, in the fourth quarter Apple reportedly became the top mobile-phone vendor in the U.S. for the first time, and sales of its most important product, the iPhone, remain strong. Apple is seeing growth in countries like China, where CEO Tim Cook gave an interview to local media earlier this year.

Since taking over the company in 2011, Cook has granted only a handful of interviews, and Apple rarely allows even senior executives to speak to the media. Despite its successes, the company’s growth has slowed and its profits have flattened, with Apple shares falling about 35 percent since their record-high close of $702.10 last September. — Greg Beaubien



Comments

Leonard Sipes says:

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

March 20, 2013

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