#AppleLive: A Product Recap & Key PR Lessons

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Unless you were completely disconnected for the last month, you most likely heard the countless rumors circulating about Apple’s September 9 new product announcements. Well, the wait is finally over, and on Tuesday, the tech giant announced two new phones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and their first-ever wearable device, the Apple Watch. While the unveiling of new Apple products is always a highly-anticipated and exciting event, it’s also interesting to look at the bigger picture and see what lessons can be learned from the situation. From the ever-growing hype surrounding the announcement, to the public’s unwavering fascination and support of Apple products, to the crisis when the livestream failed to play, Apple serves as a valuable teaching model for public relations professionals.
New Products
Before we dive into the key takeaways, we’ll go over some high-level features of the new products. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have larger screens than any previous edition: 4.7” and 5.5” respectively. With these new phones, Apple seems to finally be following suit with its competitors like Samsung, who have fully embraced the “phablet” trend. Both phones are also slimmer than the iPhone 5S: the iPhone 6 is 6.9mm and the 6 Plus 7.1mm. To compare, the iPhone 5S has a width of 7.6mm. Apple has come a long way since 2007 when the first generation iPhone was released–that model had a width of 11.6mm!
Both phones also have the new A8 Apple watchChip for faster processing speeds; a revolutionized iSight Camera with improved slow motion video, face detection, and True Tone flash; a longer battery life; and an “ion strengthened glass” screen. Many hoped Apple would incorporate sapphire crystal screens into the new devices, but to the disappointment of many, that was not the case. However, sapphire crystal was used on the iSight Camera and the Apple Watch.
Perhaps the biggest announcement surrounding the phones was an exciting new capability: Apple Pay. The new iPhone 6 devices feature NFC (near field communication) technology that enables consumers to use their phone to make payments wirelessly and eliminates the need to carry credit cards or cash. According to Apple, once your credit card information is added to your iPhone’s Passbook: “just hold your iPhone near the contactless reader with your finger on Touch ID to pay.” Click here for more details about this innovative mobile payment system.
The iPhone 6 starts at $199, and the 6 Plus $299 for 16GB. Apple will begin accepting online pre-orders on Friday, September 12, and the phones will be available in-store on September 19. The new iOS 8 software will be available for download on existing iPhones on September 17. Get in line early if you want to snatch up one of these devices; some people have been waiting outside of the New York City Apple Store since the end of August!
Apple also announced their first highly-anticipated wearable device, the Apple Watch. Available sometime in 2015, the watch comes in three versions: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition. The Apple Watch not only tells time (gasp!), but also offers a customizable solution for users looking for a new way to communicate. Interchangeable bands, customized home screens and a new, easy to navigate user interface that features a “Digital Crown” control dial make the watch an exciting new addition to Apple’s growing product line. The watch combines fitness tracking, messaging, music and much more into one tiny little package. The Apple Watch comes in two different sizes, 38mm and 42mm (height), and starts at $349 (though the Apple Watch Edition is available with gold and rose gold casings – we’re assuming the price on those will be much steeper). There’s plenty of other incredible features not described here; check out the full video from Apple here.
iphone stageSend a Meaningful Message
One of the most important things PR pros can learn from Apple is the importance of telling a good story. Apple tells a story so compelling that people around the world eagerly listen every year when they announce their new products. They don’t just issue a press release with the details; they create an international spectacle and generate buzz from consumers around the globe. Samsung recently launched their new Note 4 phone at IFA in Berlin, but Apple shies away from sharing the spotlight with competitors and instead hosts its own events. They create their own news, their own platform for announcing products (in this case, literally – they built a massive side stage for the iPhone 6 announcement) and they own the media’s attention. The exclusivity of the invite-only event generates press in such a way that everyone is captivated by every element of the event, down to the cryptic invitation.  Apple makes it a privilege for these people to be selected, and they offer a once in a lifetime concert at the end of the program. Granted, not every brand can go to such extreme lengths, but treating the press with respect or offering exclusivity can capture a reporter’s attention.
Although the livestream suffered from some technical difficulties, the actual products worked flawlessly and were fun to watch and interact with. Strong visuals and perfectly executed videos also added to the overall excitement and appreciation of the event.
The key takeaway from all of this is that you need to make your client’s message impossible to ignore. Tell a story that’s so compelling and that garners so much interest that it’s all people want to talk about. Even if you don’t have the budget to stream an international press conference or give away free downloads of a highly-anticipated album, think outside the box and get creative. Captivate your audience with your story and your message. BIGfish President and Founder David Gerzof Richard recently shared additional marketing insight about Apple on FOX 25 Boston; check out the video here.
Pay Attention to the Headlines
As we’ve seen, big events like the Apple announcement generate lots of press attention, so piggybacking on existing media buzz can yield favorable results for your brand. For example, the people who are already waiting outside the Apple Store in New York City aren’t just doing so to get their hands on the new iPhone before anyone else. BuyBackWorld.com is paying cousins Brian Ceballo and Joseph Cruz to sit outside, promote the BuyBackWorld brand and soak up the free media attention. So far, the duo has earned free, high-level publicity for their brand and were interviewed by many news outlets, including CNBC.
bookbookIf camping out for upwards of two weeks just to get on TV isn’t up your alley, you could always take Ikea’s humorous approach. The furniture retailer released a comical video announcing their new “bookbook” (the 2015 Ikea Catalog). Ikea’s “innovative” bookbook pokes fun at the tech companies who are busy hyping up their new products, by saying that the bookbook has “No cables, not even a power cable, and the battery life is eternal!” So far, the video has been viewed almost 10 million times. By playing off existing trends, Ikea was able to gain visibility in a space that was previously dominated by mobile technology companies. Think of ways your brand could join in on a popular conversation, even if it’s in a different industry.
Learn From & Adapt to Challenges
As anyone who tried to watch the one o’clock ET livestream of the Apple event knows, there was no shortage of technical difficulties. The livestream had issues with the video feed not loading, no audible sound playing and a Chinese translation track playing loudly over any audio that was there. Overall, the first half an hour of the broadcast was a struggle. But while the production got off to a rocky start, Apple eventually resolved these glitches and finished strong with exciting product announcements and demos, visually stunning videos and a free concert put on by U2.
Even the most well-planned event rarely goes 100% as expected, but take the hurdles in stride and learn from them. I’m sure when we’re all gathered around our computer screens in September 2015 for the next big announcement, Apple will have their streaming issues resolved, the audio perfected, and a slew of new product launches that we can continue to obsess over.
Bristol Whitcher

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