Cameron Craig: Seven Lessons Learned in 10 Years of Managing Apple's PR Department

Original author: Cameron Craig
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Cameron Craig started working for Apple from the moment Steve Jobs took over the company again. The outlook for Apple at the time was bleak. Most of the media wrote about Apple as a ghost of past glory, under headlines like: "Rotten apples", "101 ways to save Apple." Under Steve Jobs, Craig managed to bring Apple back to fame, and now he shares the lessons he learned from Steve Jobs. Of course, now that Steve Jobs has left this world, Apple is again in an unenviable position ...

... and a significant part of Habr's readers advocate for the image of Apple, which is reflected in this picture here (this is one of the masterpieces of caricaturists of the time when Jobs had just returned to Apple).

And yet, from the Apple, which was headed by Steve Jobs, there is something to learn, in terms of PR strategy. Here Cameron Craig and shares with us seven lessons that he learned in 10 years of managing the PR department of Apple, under the leadership of Steve Jobs.

1. Keep it simple

  • If you test any press release from Apple to the level of readability, then it will certainly get a grade of fourth grade student, or lower. Any hint of jargon, cliche or technical gibberish will be mercilessly cut by the editor.
  • If the final text is inaccessible to the "ordinary mortal", then it means it is unsuitable.
  • Steve Jobs personally read and approved each press release.

Tip: Pass your texts through the readability test to understand how difficult the language is to understand - on a scale of 1 to 100. Ideally, your text should be understandable for 80-89% of people, and the education necessary for its perception should be at level 11 summer child. The easier your messages are to understand, the wider the scope.

2. Appreciate being a journalist

  • We send out press releases and information about events - only for the most important products or significant events of the company.
  • Many significant products of the company, software updates and personnel changes - were held in a mode of almost complete PR silence. Sometimes it brings discomfort to our internal employees who would like more media-noise about their personal projects and their people. But we appreciate the time of journalists.
  • Faced with this approach of ours, journalists now know that if we contact them, then we really have something to say.

Tip: Do not often communicate with journalists, and contact them only when you really have something to offer. Do not insert press releases into mass mailings. Study the journalist's specialization, and do an address feed.

3. Give reporters a product touch.

  • Before giving an interview from our top managers or sending your product to write a review, we make sure that every journalist, authority or analyst holds our product in their hands and understood all its features.
  • We explain to them why they made this button in this way, or why they removed that port from behind; and also point out the subtle features that they themselves would not have seen and could not appreciate at their true worth without our story.
  • After the interview, we monitor whether they have any questions and subtly probe how their story will develop.
  • If they have any problem in the preparation of the material - we give them support 24/7.
  • If the story deviates from our key message, we make an effort to adjust the flow.
  • After you have won the interest of a journalist, be careful, but do not overdo it.

Tip: If he reviews your product, offer him a personal demonstration. If he writes a story about the service provided, offer some select customer reviews and industry references. Ask if he needs any images for this story. Does he need help to understand where our product is most competitive.

4. Stay focused

  • Our mission was to tell how our innovative products give customers the opportunity to unleash their creativity and change the world for the better.
  • We receive requests every day to be interviewed, in line with industry trends, policies, personnel, and countless other topics. However, if the request does not match our mission, we politely refuse to participate.
  • This approach allowed us to use our time most effectively.

Tip: Strive to become an expert in your field. Identify the key points of your message, and stick to them. Do not thin your public pages with off-topic messages. Offer your help to journalists and industry analysts who work in your industry - even if you don’t always benefit from it.

5. Priority on influential media

  • We do not work with long media lists. Instead, we focused on a relatively small number of journalists who we believe set the tone for everyone else.
  • We offer these journalists exclusive interviews (after launch or first shot) to create a review of new products.
  • By keeping a small number of media contacts, we ensure a more manageable, hands-on approach.
  • Having initially established contact with influential people from the press world, we then expanded our coverage to regional journalists and trade publications.

6. Focus on building close relationships with 5-10 influential media representatives who cover your field.

  • If there is a large number of influential media in your area, you should not try to cover them all. 5-10 is enough.
  • Again, do not rebuild them.
  • Give them feedback about what you hear about their articles - from your colleagues and industry partners.
  • Comment and start discussing their stories on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • When you have something to say to the public, consider offering them an exclusive address - that is, Provide not only exclusive material to them, but also ensure that this material matches their specialization.

Most importantly: respect your brand! This is the biggest lesson I got from Steve Jobs. Your brand is your most important asset and you must protect it.

Primary sources
  1. Cameron Craig.What I Learned From 10 Years of Doing PR for Apple // Harvard Business Review (Digital). 2016. URL: (дата обращения: 6 июня 2017).
  2. Картинки взяты из журналов «Mac Addict» и «MacUser».

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