CAMPAIGNS: JUDGE AND JURY; Apple bites back at critics who say it may be stewed

Computer giant Apple decided to advertise to convince stakeholders that all was well with the company. Although this approach failed for Cindy Crawford and Richard Gere, Paul Miller, managing director of Countrywide Communications says that Apple may have done the right thing.

Computer giant Apple decided to advertise to convince stakeholders that

all was well with the company. Although this approach failed for Cindy

Crawford and Richard Gere, Paul Miller, managing director of Countrywide

Communications says that Apple may have done the right thing.



When you are feeling desperate, when you feel the world is against you,

what should you do? That, I would surmise has been the dilemma of Apple

Computers and, until the middle of last week, of its president and chief

executive officer, Michael Spindler.



Another computer giant in financial distress and in strategic disarray, has been the growing view of interested media worldwide.



The bad news just kept coming. Apple’s management presumably concluded

that the PR battle was well and truly lost. Staff morale must have been

at rock bottom what with the news of job losses and increasingly large

questions being asked of the company’s management. So what to do Mr

Spindler?



You can readily imagine the boardroom deliberations on how to turn the

tide of negativity and start to get some positive messages across to the

key stakeholders. Editorially the comment was all one way, so how to

exercise some control?



‘Why not write to our stakeholders to put the facts across, to put the

record straight?’



‘But we have over 50 million customers alone and we don’t know them

personally.’



‘Then let’s reach them by advertising our letter to them in the world’s

media.’



A bold, even desperate decision you might say, particularly when one

recalls the most celebrated example of writing to the world via

advertising to ‘put the record straight’. Who can forget the poignant

message from Hollywood’s erstwhile most beautiful couple, Cindy Crawford

and Richard Gere who, in the event, scored the supreme communications

own goal.



As PR people, I suspect our natural response to the Spindler/Apple

letter in the Financial Times, even before the news of his departure, is

one of professional disapproval. How can one expect the transparency of

paid-for advertising to counter editorial might? Yet I suggest our

verdict should be far more charitable towards Apple (let’s not worry too

much about the now-departed Mr Spindler); on at least two fronts the

company has begun the communications fight back.



The advertising is pushing positive messages to Apple’s many employees

worldwide; and the media is now showing renewed interest in the company,

but this time round acknowledging that the corporation is fighting back.



Why not believe the Apple message? Compaq turned its business around.



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