PR Considerations from Apple’s “Boring” Product Launch
By Brittany Bevacqua | On September 9, 2016
In the B2B technology space, we see companies all the time that face the same problem: how can they generate greater awareness and demand in the market when they only have a single product or a limited amount of offerings? For these companies, it may take years to develop new products, and the build up to get there via point solutions or update releases is lackluster at best for journalists. The ability to get around this challenge successfully requires a sound, multi-faceted PR strategy that goes beyond pushing the same old product story in the same way it’s always been done.
Cue this week’s Apple launch. Here’s a company that dominates media headlines at every turn despite the fact that the rumor mill and chatter from the company’s annual Developer Conference has left little room for surprises on the main stage. In short, no one expected Apple to unveil its next great device – better updates to existing products, yes, but nothing that would be as disruptive as its first generation products/services. And that’s exactly what we got – or as FOX Business boldly put it, a “boring” launch.
Despite this, you can’t ignore the volume of media coverage that has published in the days following – some positive, some negative, some in-between. But Apple did what it does best – generate buzz and giving its faithful fans a fix until it’s really ready to blow them away with the next groundbreaking innovation.
This got me thinking – is there something that other companies can take away from this week’s Apple launch that they can consider mimicking for their own product launches? These two things stood out to me in particular:
Messaging. While we mourn the loss of the headphone jack with iPhone 7, Apple made it clear throughout its presentations that the company is moving towards a “wireless future.” A quick search on Google News shows that top-tier press like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and CNET clearly got the message – all included those two magic words in their headlines. This is a PR person’s dream. Any company that will eventually make a big shift in product/service delivery, capabilities/functionality or otherwise should consider developing new messaging and other assets that reflect this future direction and begin seeding them out in the market appropriately.
Experimentation. Apple isn’t afraid to try new things, and for this year’s event, the company used Twitter in a rather interesting way. Using promoted tweets from the company’s barren @Apple handle, the company began breaking its own news, leaving some reporters and bloggers scorned and scrambling to publish quickly (read about the chaos that ensued here). Now, I don’t condone scooping the media in any situation; however, there is something to be said about looking at new ways to break news and reach your target audiences. Consider how you can go beyond the standard press release and demo approach – take a look at social media, content platforms (earned and sponsored), or even the use of video to go outside the box. The media continues to evolve the way it gathers sources and publishes information. The same goes for customers and prospects. The more closely your organization can align with those areas now, the more likely you are to build buzz and grab their attention when primetime comes (even if you’re not quite ready to unveil your next breakthrough innovation).
These are just a few of the considerations that stood out to me – I’d love to hear if you picked up on others. In general, Apple’s PR strategy is fascinating – it’s a company that almost never does anything by accident. This year’s event proves that while not even Apple can escape the inevitable lackluster product cycles, the planning and execution that goes into these launches makes all the difference.