PR must engage people on their own online turf

PRWeek has spoken many times about Apple's unique approach to PR and the tech monolith was on top form again yesterday as it stole the thunder of several rivals who launched "iPad-busting" tablet computers at the IFA show in Germany today.

PRWeek has spoken many times about Apple's unique approach to PR and the tech monolith was on top form again yesterday as it stole the thunder of several rivals who launched “iPad-busting” tablet computers at the IFA show in Germany today.

Apple has beefed up its TV and iPod products and is trying to further exploit its domination of paid-for online content that started with iTunes, which quickly became a primary payment method for many people downloading music.

These are by no means in the same category as the game-changing announcements that defined Apple's stratospheric success over the past couple of years. I always feel Apple is at its best when it is completely leading and innovating rather than reacting and evolving, but whatever it does is worthy of note.

And, despite its preemptive PR strike yesterday, Apple won't have the tablet computer playing field completely to itself for much longer, with Samsung and Toshiba among those unveiling interesting tablet products in Germany today based on the Android operating system.

The implications for communications professionals are mainly concerned with the continuing evolution of media. “New media” has always been a misnomer when used as a catchall phrase for digital. Wired magazine's recent cover feature provocatively entitled “The Web is dead” proffered the theory that the World Wide Web as we knew it has been overtaken by apps, social networks, peer-to-peer services, on-demand video and mobile devices. It's a world of Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Netflix, and yes, Apple, rather than standalone “websites”.

The article quotes a survey from Web analytics company Compete stating that the top 10 US online destinations now account for about 75% of all page views. That's a staggering figure. And it suggests brands, companies and organizations have to communicate their messages principally in those top 10 environments if they want audiences to listen and engage. You can't just set up a site and hope people will come visit it.

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