I remember the moment Steve Jobs scrolled through his music and uttered those magical words – “scrolls like butter” – while illustrating the beauty of the original iPhone.
It’s moments like this that you lived for, as a technology obsessed professional in Silicon Valley. And with Jobs we got to watch the Michael Jordan of technology, courtside, at his best. iPods, iPhones, iPads, the hits kept coming and Jobs made them look great.
So, it’s a pet peeve of mine these days when companies try to rip off Steve Jobs’ launch style. Not Apple’s style because the new PR machinery at Apple leaves a lot to be desired. But what Jobs created, no one else can put together, because it was and will always be classic Jobs.
Jobs in the above video is the same age as Zuckerberg is today. Incomparable!
Why “Public Relations” sucks?
Kevin Roose writes of the Applefication of Facebook PR in light of today’s Facebook press conference.
I’m sitting in the Facebook headquarters, in Menlo Park, in a room filled with the symphonic clicking of keys produced by hundreds of tech bloggers, all writing the same stories and updating the same live-blogs on identical Apple laptops.
Zuckerberg has long departed — he was disappeared from a teeming pile of reporters and cameras and out a back door like a sitting president — so now it’s just us and the PR Borg. Oh, the PR Borg. Facebook’s communications staffers are paired up with reporters at demo stations, showing off Graph on a series of computers. The spares are milling around the room. There must be 50 of them — a phalanx of fresh-faced professionals with smiles on their faces and carefully scripted responses to our questions in their hip pockets.
These are today’s news factories. These are things I’d hoped would change with social media but frankly the hand that runs the machine continues to operate with an old playbook. And that sucks…
- Because companies take your time for granted and insult your intelligence by throwing pablum like “three pillars,” and “graph search” at these press junkets
- Because most of the press and the media invited to these junkets regurgitate this bullshit
- Because investigative journalism is dead
- Because empty sensationalism seems to be the only way to run a blog these days and no one’s held accountable
- Because access is the currency of public relations and will never change
- Because press releases will continue to work since they scale
But wasn’t social media meant to change these things… Hold that thought.
Because no company can ever be Apple with Jobs
I never went to an Apple event in the Steve Jobs era, but I gather that the pitch is nearly identical: the charismatic founder, the well-paced presentation, the subtle way that certain media outlets are subtly given preference. (This time, major news outlets — this one not included — were given off-the-record briefings about Social Graph.) It’s all drawn from a playbook that was developed a decade ago and has been used to transform a smallish computer company into the largest corporation in the world.
Not so fast. This playbook copied by every large company from Amazon to Facebook forgets three key elements for this communication to work: killer product, charismatic founder, real user values.
The magic with Steve Jobs was his effortless communication. A passionate user himself whose demos communicated his wonder around Apple products that truly changed the way we interact with technology.
Yes, Apple had their PR machinery but the difference was Jobs.
- The difference was the simple email responses that Jobs would personally send users who wrote him about Apple products.
- The difference was Jobs’ passionate discourse with just about any user on all things Apple.
- The difference was in the conversational way Jobs wrote his controversy-defusing missives when the situation demanded.
- The difference was in backing up those missives by publicly sparring, evangelizing and winning over developers or journalists when they called him on it.
- The difference was a holistic approach at communicating openly to users by treating them as adults.
Wasn’t that the utopian goal of social media? To help companies talk one-on-one with their users. Instead here we are, still mass producing press releases around giant product announcements, trying to reach the lowest common denominator at the lowest possible price. In some cases, at the ridiculously low price of $100.00!
Welcome to the future of social media communication.
[Disclosure: I own public stock in Facebook, I do not own stock in Apple. This blog holds my my personal thoughts on all things marketing and communications since 2006.]