In an in-depth profile published this afternoon, well-connected blogger Mark Gurman has taken a comprehensive look inside Apple’s public relations department as it currently exists and how it will transition heading into the future. The profile provides a detailed overview of Apple’s PR strategies, starting with how they existed under the company’s most recent PR chief Katie Cotton and late co-founder Steve Jobs.
According to Gurman, Apple has a surprisingly small PR and Communications team that consists of around over 30 employees at the company’s main headquarters in Cupertino. The employees, which work out of an office on the third floor of Apple’s Product Marketing building at 3 Infinite Loop, are divided between teams: Momentum and Buzz Marketing; Mac; Corporate Communications; iPhone, iPad, iOS and iCloud; iTunes and Events.
While much of the information that Gurman shared was already public knowledge, there are several anecdotes dropped that provide a closer look at how Apple, when it needs to be, can be controlling and manipulative over journalists and publications. For instance, the profile details a recent Reuters story about Apple’s accessibility practices that Cupertino was not pleased with.
Apple wanted Reuters to include more of Tim Cook’s speech on the importance of accessibility in the article, although the publication declined because everything that Cook said was made publicly available. Apple, despite declining to provide comment for the Reuters story in the first place, went on the aggressive and turned to other journalists to seemingly attack Reuters on their story.
“Despite being unwilling to officially participate, Apple asked Reuters off the record to include more quotes from Cook’s speech, said a person familiar with the situation,” claims Gurman. “Reuters declined, since the speech is publicly available material. Instead of commenting on-the-record before or after the article was published, Apple’s PR team disapprovingly pointed a loyal group of Apple-focused bloggers to the entire 2013 speech transcript, and these bloggers then used the supplied details to attack Reuters.”
As evidenced above, and explained further in the nine-part profile, Apple keeps close tabs on the media to see what is being published about them. If the company is displeased with any of stories revolving around Apple, it will often try to direct the narrative towards its liking. This includes the distinctively prepared and well-planned press releases, interview quotes and oft-declined on-the-record comments from Apple’s executives and tight-lipped PR team.
Overall, the entire “Seeing Through the Illusion” profile is well worth a read and dives right into the intricacies that shape Apple’s PR and Communications team. With the recent departure of Cotton, perhaps a move made under the leadership of Cook, it appears that Apple is beginning to — at least slightly — open up more to journalists and publications through its PR efforts. But for as long as Apple remains a hot topic among consumers, maintaing its cult-like group of followers, things aren’t likely to change much.
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