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

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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