Unless you were living under a rock, Apple hosted their regular March product event yesterday. The products were straight-forward and there was no “just one more thing…” The event just came and went. Reporters covered the news, some live blogged but most of the news had come out in the weeks prior to the event.
The curious thing is that with so many Apple fanboys out there, particularly in reporting circles, why weren’t more of them publishing critical post-event analysis? They simply broke or reported on the pre-event claims, attended the event, covered the news and moved on with their day.
It could be a variety of reasons (check all that apply).
That era has slowly petered out since Tim Cook took the reins in August 2011. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all. But it certainly shows a complete 180 in the product, business and communications strategy from the company’s previous regime.
For those of us living in or traveling through Los Angeles, we all heard about the Lufthansa plane nearly colliding with a drone over the weekend. Pretty scaring stuff. Police were everywhere. And of course, the story dominated the local news -- newspapers, broadcast, radio, etc.
Every story seemed pretty straight forward, providing details on the airline involved, time of day, the location in the air, and on and on. With all of those numbers and quotes from experts and even government officials, it seemed like nothing was amiss.
But then look at the comment sections.
You will see a variety of responses around the legitimacy of the location of the near crash from self-proclaimed drone enthusiasts. I’m not discrediting the reporter or the experts he talked to. But after looking at the comments, you have to ask yourself if this was a fully researched and neutral story.
We should certainly be protecting airspace around airports (and I’ve learned from my drone enthusiast fiance some of the restrictions already put in place) but some of the facts don’t add up and make it out to be an anti-drone scare-tactic story.
After reading this story, I immediately thought of the scene in the latest season of House of Cards when Seth Grayson, Frank Underwood’s director of communications, under extreme duress due to a major crisis (but again, isn’t everything with the Underwoods a crisis??) looks to his PR team and essentially says…”Fix the errors. Unless it is burning, don’t bother me.” I can imagine the communications and policy teams at Drone manufacturers like DJI, 3dr and Walkera were scrambling after these stories appeared, trying to better educate reporters on highly enforced airport-related regulations and logistics.
In the eyes of many readers, this was probably almost tragic story. For others, it was an opportunity to push an agenda. But for me and others in PR, it looks to have the underpinnings of a crisis comms situation. A PR person’s job isn’t always to push an agenda, product or service. Sometimes it is to educate and ensure the facts of a story are being published accurately.
Just read a great piece from Janko Roettger of Variety on Netflix’s international launch of Season 2 of Daredevil. It isn’t the typical piece you’d expect from Variety because it focused on the behind-the-scenes technological components and complexities of streaming an entire season of a series across the global at once. Not an easy feat.
And Netflix did an amazing job orchestrating not only the actual streaming launch (I personally can’t wait to binge watch next weekend) but also the intimate PR event that resulted in Janko’s piece. People reading his story may not even think about the logistics and intricacies that were put in place by the PR and marketing teams to create that moment.
While only one story is wasn’t your run-of-the-mill launch story. And that’s what really struck me. Netflix took the time to really craft a unique experience for these reporters. One that allowed them to go deep enough into the tech without exposing any proprietary information, deep enough for reporters -- and their readers -- to feel special about their access.
This story is a reminder of what is possible when PR and marketing teams think outside the box for launches. Product launches aren’t what they used to be and not every launch should be cookie-cutter or transactional. What elements can you bring to your launch that provide an experience? Do you have visuals? Do you have experts that can speak to different aspects or viewpoints of the launch?
With all of that said, not every company or launch can or should try to pull off what Netflix did. There is a large element of risk when you bring reporters into a space with special access to unveil something live and in real-time. Something could go wrong or fail. But in Netflix’s case, the risk was worth the reward. And it is something that all PR and marketing teams should evaluate on some degree for future launches.
Welcome to ROAMings, a compilation of thoughts and musings about the PR and media industries. This is an opportunity to discuss the “here and now” of the industry, interesting events or case studies, pivotal moments that affect how we approach PR, etc. It isn’t about brand loyalties or preferences -- and we will not be publishing self-promotional materials or talk about our clients in this setting -- but how those brands, individuals and events are leveraging (or in some cases abandoning) PR.