Can team Cook and Ahrendts rekindle the Magic of Steve Jobs

cr50-pg8-Angela-Ahrendts-060611Apple hasn’t been the same since the passing of Steve Jobs.   What company would be?  Many say the company it’s losing its magic touch, now that the Visionary in Chief is gone.  Jobs wasn’t only a visionary and a shrewd CEO, he was a marketing and PR genius.  He was able to make his Apple launches highly anticipated media events.  Events that we haven’t seen since.

In an effort to bring back some of the magic, Apple announced the appointment of Angela Ahrendts, the CEO of Burberry.  Quite an interesting move on the part of Apple’s Tim Cook.  Cook inherited an amazing company, but all in all a thankless job.  It wouldn’t be easy to replace Mick Jagger, and that in essence was what he was chosen to do.

Yes, he had to keep all of the inner workings of the company on track.  The business of the business, so to speak, had to remain at a high level, but Apple was also one of the world top media acts.  An Apple launch was not dissimilar to the release of a blockbuster film, or a rock concert extravaganza.  All three depend on the pull of a charismatic front person.  A Lady Gaga concert, sans Lady Gaga wouldn’t be much of a draw.  In essence that’s now what Apple is left with.

Angela Ahrendts is charismatic, but will she be able to fill the shoes left by Jobs?  Will it be a team approach?  The Tim Cook Angela Ahrendts show.  Neither are similar to Jobs, nor are they similar to one another.  Will the two complement or contrast each other’s style?

So what does this mean for the future of Apple?  Jobs was a unique obsessed, determined, relentless force.  No one will replace him.  The answer is going to lie in whether this duo can pave their own unique marketing and PR path, so that they keep the company run inning on all cylinders but also fill that promotional vacuum that Steve Jobs left.    Will they have the PR savvy to rekindle the magic? Will this new team find a way to reclaim the thrill and anticipation that Jobs brought, or will it slowly slide becoming just another tech company in a continual market share battle with the likes of Samsung, and Google.

Casting Ben Affleck as Batman caused dismay in the ranks of the Batman faithful; we’ll see how that eventually plays out at the box-office.  Similarly, will recasting Jobs with the team of Cook and Ahrendts satisfy the rabid legions of Apple faithful?

Time will tell.

Copyright © Anthony Mora Communications 2013

Bruell, Alexandra. “CEO, Chief Creative Officer, Burberry.” Photo.  CREATIVITY. 05 Jun 2011. 17 Oct 2013. <http://bit.ly/1ghmYgK&gt;

The Steve Jobs Factor

Although I never really realized it, I’ve been talking about Steve Jobs on almost a daily basis for the last several years.  Whenever I’d talk to a prospective client or review a campaign with a new employee or teach an intern about how PR really woks, Jobs is who I’d point to.  He’d be the one I’d use to illustrate how to successfully launch and sustain an effective media relations campaign.

The thing about Jobs was not just that he was an expert marketer but that he was the best at what he did and he showed such passion for his work that it was infectious.  When Steve Jobs launched a new product, it wasn’t just a launch, it was a news story; it was an event.  The media and the public would wait with baited breath for a Steve Jobs launch.

I always marveled at how he melded creativity and vision with business and marketing.  Few if any have done so at such a high level.  Jobs didn’t only brand Apple, he branded Steve Jobs.  It was genius, the campaigns mirrored each other.  If you read an article on Apple, you’d immediately think of Steve Jobs and if you saw a TV interview with Jobs, Apple would be at the forefront.  His focus was on style, design, as well as function and usability.  He created a coolness factor unlike any other.

His story is truly a thing of legend, a visionary who co-founded a company in a garage and built it into the world’s leading tech Company.  Although no company’s success can be attributed to one person, it’s safe to say that without his vision, drive and passion Apple would not be the company we now know.  It’s incredible, what he accomplished.  He introduced the concept of the personal computer and of navigating by clicking a mouse.  From the Apple 1 and the Mac he went on to the iPod,  iPhone iTunes and the iPad tablet — all of which changed how we communicate and consume content.

As the story goes, Jobs dropped out of Oregon’s Reed College after one semester. He returned to audit a class in calligraphy, which influenced Apple’s aesthetic.  He launched the first Apple computer in 1975, selling his car to help finance the minuscule company.  After a successful run, the company hit some rough patches and Jobs was forced out of Apple in 1985.  He founded NeXT and went on to form Pixar.  In 1997, he returned as CEO at Apple.  Although money never seemed to be the driving force behind Jobs, it certainly was a motivating factor.  In the summer of 2011, Apple listed more cash reserves than the U.S. Treasury and for a bit surpassed Exxon Mobil as the world’s most valuable company.

Hard to beat that success story.  From the public relations perspective it’s difficult to think of a more successful sustained campaign.  To be sure Apple and Jobs had their media glitches.  His personal image was not always the best.  His reputation for micromanaging and riding herd over those who worked for him was also legendary.  But overall the message was that of Steve Jobs being able to turn his visions into reality and change the world as we know it.  His PR focus was not on price point, but on innovation, design and excellence and that’s how Apple is viewed.

He’s gone now, but he’ll still be the one I bring up when talking about how a public relations campaign should be run and what PR can accomplish.  His campaigns were a mixture of entertainment, information and elegance.  Until someone else does it better, his approach remains the gold standard.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2011

Livingston, Geoff. “Steve Jobs- Products”. Photo. Ragan’s PR Daily. 06 Oct. 2011. 07. Oct. 2011. <http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/9700.aspx&gt;

The Steve Jobs Approach to PR Magic

By branding yourself as well as your business, you set up a two-pronged marketing campaign.  By establishing yourself as an expert in your field, you become the authority, the go-to person in your particular arena.  This type of validation will then extend to your product or service.  People buy what they trust.  Establish yourself as an expert and you won’t need to sell your clients or customers, they will come to you.   People will look to you not only for your product or service but also for you advice, your savvy, your expertise.

That is what made Steve Jobs so immensely valuable to Apple.  Love him or hate him, people saw him as the innovator, as the one who changed the field, the one who came up with the most interesting and exciting products.   The one they could trust. Whenever Steve jobs presented a new product, be it the Mac, iPhone or iPad, it wasn’t just a presentation, it was an event; it was an experience.  Journalists would fall over one another to cover it. And it wasn’t simply a tech story; it was a pop culture event.  It would be covered on every type of media outlet from Wired, to the Wall Street Journal, to CNN, to Extra.

Okay, so you’re not Steve Jobs.  But you get my idea.  An effective PR approach is to establish and brand yourself as you brand your business; and branding is perhaps the main function of a successful media relations campaign.  Yes, you want to reach prospective customers and clients, but you also want to establish who and what you and your business are.  Remember you’re not selling a product or service, you’re building a brand that establishes your value in the marketplace.  That is precisely why you need to view PR as a long term process.  It’s impossible to establish a brand in a few months.  It is a cumulative process.  You need to be consistent.  You need to stay on course, particularly during the first six months, which are generally the toughest.

Building a brand comes down to creating a strong narrative, building a strong story that people relate to.  That’s where Jobs understood the process more than most.  The Apple brand came to be an ongoing story with new chapters being added with the launch of each new product.  Jobs established himself first as a wunderkind, then as a visionary, then as a shrewd business leader who could turn a business model on its head and open new markets.  But that legend didn’t simply happen on its own.  It was a well crafted, strategically organized public relations campaign.

As an entrepreneur or business owner, take a page from one of the shrewdest marketers we’ve seen in ages.  Brand yourself as you brand your business.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2011

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