Controlling leaks Apple style

appledark[1] There’s been quite a lot of buzz during the past week or so surrounding rumours that Apple will be launching a tablet device very soon, and the expectation that there’ll be an announcement by Apple on January 26. I wrote a post myself, too.

What’s behind all the buzz? How did it get started? Who did the starting or at least added fuel to the fire? Apple itself?

See what you think after reading a post by John Martarello, a senior editor at The Mac Observer, following a report about Apple’s forthcoming device in the Wall Street Journal on January 4, summarized by the Mac Observer. It has all the hallmarks of a controlled leak, says Martarello:

[…] Often Apple has a need to let information out, unofficially. The company has been doing that for years, and it helps preserve Apple’s consistent, official reputation for never talking about unreleased products. I know, because when I was a Senior Marketing Manager at Apple, I was instructed to do some controlled leaks.

The way it works is that a senior exec will come in and say, "We need to release this specific information. John, do you have a trusted friend at a major outlet? If so, call him/her and have a conversation. Idly mention this information and suggest that if it were published, that would be nice. No e-mails!"

The communication is always done in person or on the phone. Never via e-mail. That’s so that if there’s ever any dispute about what transpired, there’s no paper trail to contradict either party’s version of the story. Both sides can maintain plausible deniability and simply claim a misunderstanding. That protects Apple and the publication.

Whatever you might think about the ethics of such a manipulative approach to communication – “plausible deniability”! – it gets Apple the results it wants.

The ends justify the means, right?

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Benjamin

    Sounds like the PR of politics ;). What’s interesting is the leak about the leak! Apple can still play the game, even when their methods are known.

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