Jul 19, 2010
Julie

Press Conferences Apple-Style: Criticise the Media through Song

So incase you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks – newsflash – there’s a problem with the iPhone 4. Essentially the issue is with the phone’s antenna which means if you hold it the way you would a normal mobile phone, your signal drops off. A phone without phone signal. A phone that you can’t hold and make calls on. That’s a pretty big problem eh?

In a moment that could win awards under the dual categories of: ‘Customer service disaster’ and ‘The stuff PR people’s nightmares are made of’…Jobs acknowledged there was a problem with the phone at the end of June, telling an Engaget reader: “it is an issue, but just don’t hold it like that.” That’s right fool…don’t try to hold your phone and make a call…duh.

So after coming under increasing pressure from angry customers and the media, Apple held a press conference on Friday to resolve the problem once and for all. No doubt this press conference was the culmination of much strategising and planning. A chance to regain Apple’s ‘PR Golden’ status. So what happened? Did they roll out an apologetic Steve Jobs talking about how they’re sorry, they’re going to fix the problem, yada yada?

Nope. When you do a press conference Apple-style, you start with a song:

Steve Jobs felt the media had unfairly criticised the iPhone 4 and chose to start the press conference telling them all in a not-so-subtle way, exactly what he thinks through the medium of song: “The media loves a failure in a string of successes / the fact won’t ever matter if they can make their bigger messes … in terms of daily usage / I’ve yet to drop a call / so this whole damn thing is stupid.”

An unorthodox approach to say the least. Jobs chose to start the press conference sticking a blatant two fingers up to the media (fingers crossed next time there’s a press conference Steve Jobs will appear in a leotard and stick it to the media through interpretive dance!). He took a defensive stance throughout the conference, pointing to the failings in competitor phones and stating that the problem was blown out of proportion. In relation to Apple’s PR blunders he said:

“We take this really personally. Maybe we should have a wall of PR people keeping us away from all that, but we don’t, we take it really personally. So we’ve been working really really had these last 22 days on this trying to solve the problem. And we think we’ve gotten to the heart of the problem here. And the heart of the problem is, smartphones have issues, and we made it easy to exploit the issue by showing people where to hold the phone to cover the antenna. But the data supports the fact that the iPhone 4 is the best smartphone in the world, and that there is no Antennagate… there is a challenge for the entire smartphone industry to improve its antenna performance so there are no weak spots.”

Jobs proceed to offer iPhone 4 users a free case that will solve the problem.

Apple have been walking a public relations tight rope but I guess when you have a record breaking brand and a ‘game changing device’ you can afford a little arrogance and a slip up every now and then…right?!?

Read a blow-by-blow account of the press conference here.

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