There are a few proven ways to make a splash with tech product news. One does not involve any PR sleight-of-hand – the news gets attention on its own merits. It so disruptive and interesting that the media just have to cover it. Pretty rare but it happens.
The more traditional PR launch is like a six gun salute. You cue up your news, share it in advance with selected journalists (or offer an exclusive), pre-brief them under embargo, if you’ll forgive a little PR jargon, and voilà! Launch day comes, nicely choreographed with a press release over the wire and ready-made stories.
Another, more clever approach relies on secrecy to build buzz. You throw out some crumbs of info to build anticipation and keep people guessing. On launch day the tension is released like a punctured balloon. People swarm around the news.
Apple has been a master of the last approach. The guessing game is satisfied by the big reveal – Apple’s legendary ritual for showing off the latest device (recall Steve Jobs’ famous rejoinder: “There’s one more thing!”). It’s captivated us, driven people to wait in long lines, and gave another reason to be excited about working in tech.
But I’m getting the feeling that the thrill may be gone. Many were underwhelmed by the latest news (somehow debates about ear phones seem inconsequential with everything else going on in politics and the world). The routine by now has become predictable.
Plus, it gets harder to keep news under wraps. The NY Times wrote about Apple iPhone 7 news – a day before the company made its formal splash. The main focus, though, was not about the anticipated features, it was about the news leaks. Traditionally secretive Apple still keeps their cards close to the vest. But, according to the article, there’s a cottage industry of news busters that spoil the surprise party.
We know about [latest features] thanks to a global information chain, one that shadows the supply and manufacturing chain that produces Apple’s products. The shadow chain is intended to ferret out Apple rumors: promoting them, discussing them and then discussing them some more, long before they become facts.
Does this mean that the big reveal is done in tech? I don’t think so. Few companies are watched as closely as Apple.
Sure, there are many chances for details to leak early. This is especially true of funding and M&A news, which typically involves many parties trying to stay ahead of ever vigilant sleuths.
In a world of TMI and crowd-sourced news tips, those who can tease their announcement, and use stealth and secrecy and keep people guessing can still make a splash.
It just might not be Apple