Pretty much everyone who has ever written anything about technology has, at one point or another, been called an “iSheep” who is “so bias (sic) in favor of Apple!” But while accusations of “pro-Apple bias” occur so often that they’re practically meaningless, that doesn’t mean Apple doesn’t have a brilliant strategy for monitoring and manipulating media coverage about the company that is lightyears beyond what Amazon, Microsoft or even Google do.
9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman, who’s about as good an Apple reporter as you’ll find, has just written an extensive series about Apple’s PR operations and how it springs into action to stomp out any stories that paint the company in a negative light. To cite one particular example, Gurman describes how Apple worked to discredit a Reuters report that questioned whether Apple was doing enough to make its products more accessible to people with disabilities.
Apparently, Reuters had asked Apple to comment on the record about its reporting and Apple steadfastly refused and pushed Reuters to include more excerpts that Tim Cook gave where he mentioned the need to do more for people with disabilities, which presumably would have painted the company in a more positive light. Reuters called Apple’s bluff and said that because the entire speech was public record, it shouldn’t have to quote parts that Apple pushed it to quote.
To combat this report, Apple made sure to let a bunch of Apple bloggers know that Reuters had failed to report the entire context of the speech. Soon enough, those blogs were soon out in full force questioning the veracity and honesty of Reuters‘ report.
(And no, in case you’re wondering, BGR was not one of those blogs.)
Amazingly, Apple did all this without once making an on-the-record statement, which Gurman says is a time-tested strategy of the company.
“Their strategy is to say nothing,” says one of Gurman’s sources. “It keeps everyone guessing what Apple is up to, generates free publicity, and keeps them out of the trouble everyone gets into. Once you start answering questions, you get your foot in your mouth.”
Another terrific example comes from the way that Apple grants “early access” of new devices to journalists whom it believes will provide positive early reviews or first impressions.
“Likely contributing to which publications get early access to products is the nature of pre-coverage — angles taken by writers during the product rumors cycle,” Gurman writes. “As [former Gizmodo editor] Brian Lam put it, ‘Apple can already tell what a review is going to say from [a publication’s] pre-coverage, and they’re not going to give you a review unit if you’re not going to play ball.’ In other words, Apple feeds the writers who will do its bidding, and starves the ones who won’t follow its messaging.”
Gurman’s entire series is very fascinating and well worth a read. Check it out by clicking the source link below.