Can Apple absorb the poisonous PR generated by human interest dramas?

Watching breakfast news recently, there was yet another story about Apple refusing to unblock the computer of a deceased person, causing a huge amount of grief to his distraught family.

Apple's PR team should hang its collective heads in shame over its corporate intransigence, writes Andrew Carapiet
Apple's PR team should hang its collective heads in shame over its corporate intransigence, writes Andrew Carapiet
Specifically, the story concerned a teenage boy whose family were desperately trying to unblock his Apple Mac, which contained precious photos as well as music he had written.  

There is a whole list of examples of Apple refusing to help grieving families who want the precious data carried by devices owned by deceased loved ones unblocked, only to be told they must produce death certificates, a lawyer’s letter, or even go to court.  

The company went as far as to fight a federal US judge’s ruling that it must comply with an order to unblock the terrorist’s phone.

From a PR perspective, what are we to think?  

What about the feelings of grieving families? What about the pain and suffering they must be going through in their hour of need, simply trying to desperately salvage precious mementoes and memories of their loved ones?

Words like "inflexible", "autocratic" and even "arrogant" spring to mind.

The world’s most successful company, whose profits in 2015 were estimated at more than $50 billion, should have the world’s best PR.  

But you would not credit it, based on these heart-rending stories of corporate intransigence in the face of human grief.  

Apple’s PR team must be hanging their collective, corporate heads in shame.

One can only conclude that the world’s best PR advice is being studiously ignored by the tech heads in charge of the world’s most successful company, or that they are not getting the right PR advice.

By the way, the right PR advice should surely be to make honourable exceptions in exceptional circumstances – in other words, to use some common sense and help these grieving families in their hour of need.

So, can Apple continue to absorb the poisonous PR generated by these human interest dramas?  

Can the world’s best-known brand survive the barrage of bad publicity generated by its stubborn insistence on "privacy" protocols? Quite clearly they think they can.  

What does that tell you about the values and ethics of the world’s most successful company and what does that do to their corporate social responsibility?

As a parent, I am quite simply appalled that they would deny the basic human rights of families to loved ones’ content locked into their products – the precious photos, videos, messages, music, which young people place in their iPhones and Macs, but which Apple say their parents and families cannot have access to owing to a misguided allegiance to concepts of privacy.  

Perhaps they should remember that their customers are people and that they should therefore behave like human beings themselves. 

Andrew Carapiet is the managing director of Media Friendly

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