Gini Dietrich

Six Things You Can Learn about Blogger Relations from Apple

By: Gini Dietrich | September 12, 2012 | 

Apple Computer Logo rainbowToday is the day! The highly anticipated release of the iPhone 5.

It’ll be interesting to see if any of the rumors are true, including the one that says none of your accessories will  work with the new phone because they’ve changed the connectors.

But the big “secret” event is today and bloggers, far and wide, have been invited to attend.

Is it going to be worth all the hype?

Direct Approach

In Marketing in the Round, Geoff Livingston and I discuss four different approaches you can (should?) use for your integrated marketing communications programs. They include: Top-down (traditional public relations), groundswell (word-of-mouth, social media), direct (email), and flanking (advertising).

In the chapter about direct marketing, we closely examine Apple and how well they use that approach to get people excited about their new products.

You see, they’re not notorious for using the top and groundswell approaches themselves, but they are extremely good at harnessing that energy and buzz for their own good.

Blogger Relations

Sometimes blogger relations is a sore subject here. As a blogger and a communications professional, it’s pretty frustrating to see how my peers use blogger relations. For most, it’s not done well and it gets to the point that it’s exasperating.

But, if you follow the formula Apple has created for blogger relations, you won’t fail. Any organization – small or large – can use the Apple formula to their advantage.

  1. Send invites. Even if you’re not having an event or have a big product launch, you can send invites to bloggers for a webinar, a ribbon cutting, a speech given by one of your executives, or the unveiling of the new autumn clothes. It doesn’t have to be a big event and you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Send a paper invite six weeks before your date and follow-up with emails a month out, two weeks out, a week out, two days before, the day before, and the day of. All of those emails can be automated (as long as they’ve been created to be personal and targeted) so don’t stress about trying to get them out manually on those dates.
  2. Don’t give away the plan. You can hint at what your event is going to entail, but don’t give away everything that will happen there. Build some interest and excitement by teasing your bloggers. Give them enough information to get the excited, but if you tell them too much, they’ll have no reason to attend.
  3. Build great buzz. Offer different information to different bloggers. For instance, it’s no secret Apple is the one who leaks the information that fuels the rumors about their new products. People love anticipation and they love surprises. If you build those things into your communications, the buzz will happen organically.
  4. Manage social media audiences. Apple doesn’t participate on the social networks themselves, but they know how to harness the fanboys who are already talking about them there. Give the people already talking about you on the social networks a hint or tidbit of information you didn’t give the bloggers. Let them speculate and run with the rumors in order to help you build buzz.
  5. Close your store. I know, I know. This seems counterintuitive. But if you have a store, do like Apple and close it. Invite bloggers to a private event there so people see the lights are on, but the doors are locked. This builds anticipation with your regular customers and the walk-in traffic. They’ll see the sign that you’re closed for a big event and they’ll be back tomorrow to see what’s going on. And they likely will bring a friend … or six.
  6. Allow pre-orders. If you are launching a new product, allowing pre-orders is the best way to build anticipation and buzz. The iPhone 5 will only be available for pre-order today; the phone won’t actually be available for another 10 days or so. But how many people will be clamoring to get their new phone? I’ll bet they sell out before the darn thing even comes out. Let your bloggers order first so they feel like they’re an exclusive audience, which adds to how much they’ll write about you.

What do you think? What else does Apple do really well that we can implement into our marketing and communications strategies?

Image: Rob Janoff, via Wikimedia Commons

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Neil4d1w9kn4


  • I think my invite got lost in the mail. You would think in this electronic age they would have had a little more efficient way to get this to me. 
    Your suggested strategy sounds good to me… that better than great post? 

    •  @bdorman264 My invite got lost in the mail, too!

      •  @ginidietrich  @bdorman264 Apple knows you both buy everything they offer the week it gets released why would they bother sending an invite to well known IPhone lemmings.

  • “Don’t give away the plan.” –Ha! I use this one on my three year old and it works wonders 🙂 Seriously, though, thanks for the good advice. I also found the tip of closing the store to be interesting. It reminds me of that episode of South Park where Cartman bought a going-out-of-business amusement park so that no one could come, and then business was never better!

    •  @Resident Pixie LOL! That’s both hilarious…and very poignant. I guess Cartman knows all!

  • Pretty smart regimen, developed over many years and products. Pt 4 seems particularly manipulative, doesn’t it? No wonder there’s a (small) backlash among bloggers. Doesn’t seem to hurt Apple, though.

    •  @barrettrossie I’m not sure I see it as manipulative. It’s what we do with clients – harnessing the power of the brand ambassadors and influencers who are already loyal fans.

    • I can see that. “Harnessing the power of the brand ambassadors” seems incredibly important. Especially if you don’t have huge numbers of fans like Apple and other big brands. 
      “Manipulative” isn’t the best word. You wrote “manage.” I think some people resent feeling managed. Not that you shouldn’t manage things — just don’t make me feel managed! And that’s just a casual observation from some negative reactions to Apple I’ve seen here and there. I’m thinking of the intentional “losing” of a prototype in a cafe where it will be spotted by the right people, that sort of thing. The was a bit of a backlash to one incident like that, but it was minor. 

      •  @barrettrossie Oh I will manage you and you will like it!

      • You DO have a good sense of humor! 

        •  @barrettrossie You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. 

        •  @jasonkonopinski  @barrettrossie on Thursdays @ginidietrich usually is cranky because wednesday is her Ma Jong night which often runs really late.

        •  @HowieG  @jasonkonopinski  @barrettrossie Which is why I’m hilarious today!

      •  @barrettrossie Apple has sometimes lost on wall street by allowing the fanboy hype machine over promise for them. But usually it works well.

  • Number 5 is big. People like to be a part of something special and when they know that they are part of a select group it makes them feel good. They’ll want to share something about that experience with others and others will want to know what the big deal is and will try to join.

    •  @thejoshuawilner We all like exclusivity and to feel like a VIP.

      •  @ginidietrich Admiral, I couldn’t have said that any better myself. 😉 Dr. Seuss was right, we are like Sneetches.

        •  @thejoshuawilner  @ginidietrich Everyone wants to get behind the velvet rope. 

        •  @jasonkonopinski  @thejoshuawilner Especially when you are a card-carrying member of a Club and they won’t let you in.

        •  @ginidietrich  @jasonkonopinski  @thejoshuawilner hush there is only one Kim Kardashian and one Lindsay Lohan the rest of us might as well still be living in caves because we will never be VIPS!

  • I am still dumbfounded that Apple now is using Android for the new IPhone. Steve Jobs must be flipping out.
    Great tips Gini! And again I wonder how your most informative teaching posts have fewer comments. I assume because everyone is busy implementing what you taught them!

    •  @HowieG It’s weird, isn’t it? The measurement ones, too. They always have tons of traffic, but very few comments. I guess because I don’t get anyone riled up.

    •  @ginidietrich , if you want to get people riled up, you know who to take after: @HowieG 

  • Does this apply to campaign speeches and fundraisers, as well, or just product launches? Either way, I’m really good at making things sound like they’re going to be WAY better than they actually are… Without lying, either. That’s just how I roll 😉

    •  @SociallyGenius It applies to anything you’re launching!

  • Lisa Larranaga

    Apple has done so much so well that they are a great example of success in building quality products and of course, creating fans and hype around those products.
    In the social day-and-age, a paper invitation seems so genuine. I personally love the extra touch they have and if it’s for an event, it will be less likely to be accidentally deleted in someone’s email or hidden in their spam filter. Leaking seems to be a mutually beneficial relationship for the company and bloggers/social connections, as it will get people excited about the product’s unveiling and create readers’ trust in the content producers. 
    Great tips and a nice outline for implementing Apple’s strategy in one’s own toolkit. 

    •  @Lisa Larranaga  I also love the paper invite, Lisa. It seems a lot more personal and definitely sticks out in our mailboxes.

  • HeidiCohen

    GIni –
    Great case study from a top brand.
    As a blogger, columnist and marketer, I find that many people on all sides of the issue don’t understand how to treat bloggers and columnists like real people, not just a conduit to their audience. Offer information of  value to me and my my readers but don’t spam me with your latest press release. 
    Happy marketing,Heidi Cohen 

    •  @HeidiCohen Totally agree, Heidi. That’s one thing that really bothers me about my industry. For heaven’s sakes, people. Do your research and tell me why my readers might appreciate hearing from you.

  • SocialLeslie

    @MJGottlieb Thx for the RT! @twilli2861

  • ginidietrich

    @heidicohen Thanks Heidi!

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