Five PR Lessons from AppleBy Sha-Nia Alston

Apple holds the top spot on the Forbes most valuable brand list this year, showing us just how fruitful a company’s brand can be.

There is no doubt their PR machine has been effective at creating that strong brand—and those in the PR industry can stand to learn from Apple as it stays innovative in an ever-changing world.

Here are five lessons the Apple brand holds for us in the PR field.

Build a PR Experience

We associate Apple with the experience.

We want the experience to continue long after we’ve left the store with a new product. And most times, it does—after we get the newest iPhone, we Instagram it, we YouTube it, we tell our friends how great it is.

The same should go for your clients.

Give them an experience beyond your emails, meetings, and campaign plans.

You want them to look forward to hearing from you. The simplest things are the most meaningful.

Do things that will put a smile on your client’s face.

Send a nice note or an interesting campaign idea to let them know they are important and you are always trying to think of innovative ways to increase effectiveness for their business. 

Like Apple has taught us, build loyalty and you build a lasting relationship.

Highlight Strengths

Apple focuses on their products’ strongest features and makes them digestible to consumers.

In commercials, for example, Apple shows us the iPhone is a great substitute for a handheld camera during Grandma’s birthday party.

Think of your client and their accounts the same way—what is their biggest strength? How is their product or message different than the status quo?

Identifying these elements will make pitching and placement easier. It is also a smart way to prepare for meetings with new clients.

Find the discriminator and sell it.

Don’t be Afraid to Say ‘No’

Apple has shown us that the customer isn’t always right.

Instead of relying on their customers to dictate features, functionality, or appearance, Apple takes bold leadership and forges ahead.

And after a while, we realize they were right.

Take keyboards on phones or CD drives on computers—gone. And we don’t miss them much, falling quickly in love with our sleeker, sexier laptops.

The same thing goes for public relations.

Clients may have strong opinions about PR, but they are not always right.

Be like Apple and don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to clients. Instead, take them in a new direction that you know will lead to success.

After all, you are the expert…so lead.

Know Your Industry

Apple keeps a close eye on their competition to see what’s coming down the line and whether they should follow suit.

Sometimes the company is ahead of its competition with new features, other times it lags—significantly—behind.

But the strategy shouldn’t appear to be to do it first…it’s to do it better.

You can do the same in PR—don’t only know what is happening with your clients’ competitors, but see what their PR companies are doing for them, too.

Analyzing and understanding your industry shows you are a thought leader in your field, and are ready to pioneer new ways of telling stories.


Apple hits the nail on the head with this.

When a new product launches and you’re one of the first to get your hands on it, you become part of an elite group.

Clients want to feel special, too, and we can deliver this by placing them in the top-tier media club.

When we place our clients in the most widely read and influential newspapers, websites, and TV shows, they too get that feeling that they belong to a secret club their competitors are not part of. And they start to trust and value their PR firm, which they begin to associate with invaluable counsel.

For that exclusive feeling, placement is key and reaffirms their belief that they are different and unique.

Sha-Nia Alston

Sha-Nia Alston is an intern at Spector & Associates, a New York City-based Public Relations firm. She’s a graduate of Howard University, where she majored in Broadcast Journalism. In her spare time, she enjoys all things dance.

View all posts by Sha-Nia Alston