Copy Apple’s PR Strategy – Not Apple’s Publicity Strategy

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I read this article by Ed Zitron on the Inc website earlier and tried to comment.  When the comment wouldn’t load for technical reasons [I’m assuming] I thought the comment was worth turning it in to a short blog post.

The point Ed makes is that most  companies shouldn’t try to emulate Apple’s publicity strategy.  Ed calls it PR, but what he is describing is publicity.  Whatever he calls it, I agree.  Apple has a reputation for being media shy until it is ready to talk with the press and for early stage businesses this aloofness is definitely not a way to make friends and influence people.  Another reason I think trying to emulate Apple’s media strategy is wrong is because when the Cupertino-based company has something to announce it always – at least under Steve Jobs – had something worthy of media attention.  I’m not sure the majority of early-stage companies have anything as game-changing as the iPod, iPad, iMac or iPhone with which to tempt the media.

That said, I DO believe that early stage businesses should attempt to emulate Apple’s PR strategy.  Public relations is about building relationships – with the media, customers, prospects, influencers and people that might become customers.  For all it’s reluctance to talk with the media until it was ready, Apple had [and still has] some of the best media relationships of any tech company.  Scratch that… of any company.  

Apple – under Jobs – also had a way of communicating simply.  It understood the power of ‘less is more’ in communicating complex products, services and propositions.  It was an early  adopter of video in its PR – its 1984 and Think Different spots were both exercises in public relations, despite looking suspiciously like adverts.  They were predominantly about communicating values and building relationships, rather than promotion or marketing [getting the audience to take action on its behalf].

The major problem for most companies trying to use Apple’s publicity strategy is that it takes discipline, focus and an awful lot of work.  It requires commitment and patience – and, most importantly, it requires that when you do have something you want coverage for you hit it out of the park.  Apple repeatedly managed to do this with the iMac, iPod, iPhone, Macs and iPad.

Very few other companies – even highly successful ones – will ever come close to emulating what Apple did. Want to know why?  Read Ken Segall’s book Insanely Simple