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
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
‘But we have over 50 million customers alone and we don’t know them
‘Then let’s reach them by advertising our letter to them in the world’s
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
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.