In a move consistent with the company’s super secretive policy regarding product launches, Apple issued a simple press invite that teases invitees with the promise of something new that they would like to “touch and feel” at a press event on March 7. This simple invite has garnered tremendous press traction online and created a firestorm of reaction in the online world.
From speculations as to the iPad 3’s new features or simply rejecting that it is an iPad launch at all, the tech press has been abuzz with conjecture regarding what the invite means. Each word has been dissected; each part of the subtle photo has been examined.
All this while, as the tech media across the world goes into conjecture-overdrive, Apple must be sitting back and smiling. In their first major event since the passing of Steve Jobs, Apple has once again reaffirmed their ability to generate unparalleled tech-media attention for their events. No other company in the world has this kind of solid grasp on their target media and it is very interesting for PR professionals to examine just how Apple does it.
1) Building the Suspense – The slight glimpse into the new product is perfectly designed to get the press guessing. Does the word “touch” refer to its interface or a new iPod Touch? Does Apple want journalists to “see” the iPad 3’s better retina display? If this is an iPad, is the home button history or is this just Photoshopped? Such conjecture has set the internet ablaze and ensured buzz for their launch – and has also generated enough pre-launch “stories” for journalists to fill columns with.
2) Selecting Special “Wow” Moments – Apple is careful not to over saturate the press and hence lose relevance for their key announcements. Instead, they only announce certain products – like the rumored iPad 3 – through events such as this. For products like their new Operating System, Mountain Lion, they simply briefed journalists privately. Understanding what kind of journalists they want at what events is key in controlling the message relayed in the media.
3) Connecting With Tech Journalists or Identifying the Beat Journalists– One of the reasons that Apple generates so much buzz is because the tech journalists are genuinely excited about the products themselves. Apple has built a cult following of MacHeads and most tech journalists fall into this category. Apple does not see the people writing about them simply as scribes taking down notes, but rather as engaged users of their products who are consumers first and reviewers second. This, combined with the personalized approach to engaging with media through personal email invites, has helped ensure that the media will be there – ready to anticipate the new product.
4) Orchestrating the Event Lifecycle – Months before a scheduled launch, the internet is already abuzz with rumors, thoughts, and conjectures about Apple’s latest product. This continues – and intensifies – right until the final announcement is made at the press conference. Apple never engages these rumors, but rarely dismisses them either – regardless of how off-base they might be. By giving subtle clues about their latest product, they ensure that an entire press cycle is created for their event – a cycle that builds in anticipation, excitement, and press inches right until the post-event stories take over.
5) Duh! It’s a Great Product – Perhaps this goes without saying, but it is Apple’s focus on innovation and generating truly exciting products that has enabled the high levels of media traction that they have got in recent times. People are excited about Apple because of their innovative, category-creating products
Written by Kunal Pal for Image Management