Massive report reveals Apple’s PR strategies


A new nine-part report at 9to5Mac reveals techniques Apple has used to “quietly manipulate coverage over the years.” The comprehensive article relies on interviews with journalists, bloggers, and PR pros — including some ex-Apple workers. Part one of the article discusses all of the prep that goes into Apple events, including how Apple plans for things to go awry, recounting once when an audience member fainted and was taken out by paramedics mid-Jobs keynote, and what happens backstage when things go badly.

Part two details all of Apple’s internal PR teams, including the Momentum and Buzz Marketing team, which “works with major sports leagues to integrate the iPad into coaching toolkits, helps music events integrate iPads into festivities, and gets organizations to deploy iBeacon-integrated apps for attendees.”

Part three notes that despite its detached public attitude, Apple actively monitors all media mentions of the company, even having employees checking tabloids for photos of celebrities holding iPhones. The company also actively pushes journalists and bloggers to go after negative reports about Apple in the press, providing them with links and information to undermine stories. Additionally, it plays journalists and publications against each other to get the best coverage, at one point telling Brian Lam of Gizmodo that he was getting an iPhone before the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg, and pushing Newsweek and Time to fight over an exclusive cover story.

Parts four and five discuss the reasons for Katie Cotton’s departure as PR chief, the people who have temporarily replaced her, and Apple’s search for a successor. Former CNBC journalist and 11-year Apple vet Steve Dowling is suggested as a top internal candidate for the position, given his expertise and personal friendship with Tim Cook, though Apple is still looking outside the company, as well.

Part six discusses Apple’s handling of controversies in the wake of iPhone 4’s antennagate debacle, showing how Tim Cook has gotten better at dealing with PR debacles big — iOS Maps — and small —Yukari Iwatani Kane’s Haunted Empire book — and explaining the company’s odd inability to quickly respond to reports of the Beats acquisition.

Part seven concentrates on how Apple manages reviews of its products. There are a lot of details in this section, including a full analysis of who Apple gives early product access to, and why various publications have seen their access yanked over time for being less than fully positive. This part also discusses Apple’s Reviewer’s Guides, which are designed to get writers to focus on Apple’s own talking points.

Part eight discusses how deeply Jobs was involved in the company’s press release process, and part nine concludes the article by looking at how Cook will move forward with Apple PR. It asks whether Cook’s changes will “completely eliminate the company’s most manipulative past PR practices, or simply expand them to a wider collection of publications.”

For those interested in what goes on behind the secretive Apple curtain, the entire article is well worth a read.

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Phil Dzikiy

Phil Dzikiy was the Editor-in-Cheif at iLounge. He mostly edited and oversaw all site editorial content, managed staff and freelancers, made the final call on product review grades and awards, and led online coverage of all Apple events and live coverage of the International CES in 2015.