The Apple PR Team Is Far More Complex Than We Think

Apple’s PR team is going under change, and 9to5Mac present an extensive look at that small group of employees and their relationship with the media. It is a fascinating read, that you must take a look at, even if it does mean that 9to5Mac’s poor relationship with Apple will not change. A few picks from the piece are below:

Unsurprisingly, Press Events are planned in much detail, rehearsed, and done so with constant contact with media outlets. They need to manage expectations as best they can:

The process starts weeks before keynote addresses. Apple’s PR/Communications and Marketing teams keep an eye on media reports to determine expectations, leaking information to temper expectations that won’t be matched by the announcements. Executives typically practice for two weeks in Apple’s Infinite Loop auditorium, and senior PR members prepare special white booklets to be handed out to the rest of the Communications group during a lengthy meeting, held about one week prior to the main event.

Apple will often feed news outlets stories to twist what another organisation may have said. Pitching publications against each other seems like a nasty and manipulative strategy, which is almost disrespectful to journalists. On one of many strategies:

Another cornerstone tactic of Apple PR was playing publications against each other, according to Brian Lam, founder of The Wirecutter and former head of Gizmodo. When print magazines dominated, Jobs could get either Newsweek or TIME to promote Apple on the front cover by making them compete against each other for an exclusive. Lam explained that “you can’t convince them to give you a cover, but you can convince them to take a cover from a competitor.” As technology blogs became more important, Jobs played rivals Gizmodo and Engadget against each other, publicly complimenting the freewheeling Gizmodo‘s work in front of the more serious Engadget‘s then-editor Ryan Block.

There is a excellent account on PR “tyrant” Katie Cotton’s departure from Apple. It highlights the changes that Tim Cook wanted to happen to Apple following Steve’s death:

When Tim Cook officially took the reins at Apple in late 2011, “he started informing the PR group that Apple needs to become a friendlier company,” both internally and in the public’s eye. The message was clear, but it was unclear whether Cotton would be able to meet that expectation. As an Apple employee said, “is Tim going to [still] want Katie, an attack dog with Steve’s DNA” at the helm of the company’s image? Cook opened Apple up to the Fair Labor Association, began to match employee charitable contributions, and gradually made not only himself but also other top executives available for magazine interviews. Change was afoot at Apple, and Cook wasn’t playing by all of the established rules.

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