Apple manipulates journalists using anonymous social media accounts

A new report from the typically Apple-friendly news site 9to5Mac has detailed the strides Apple goes through in order to cultivate positive media coverage -- including maintaining falsely inflated relationships with journalists, and even "keeping tabs" on writers and media members using anonymous social media accounts.

The nine-part feature covers multiple aspects of Apple's highly-praised PR game, but several sections are more interesting than others -- including the part which details how Apple games the media and uses journalists to its advantage.

Another cornerstone tactic of Apple PR was playing publications against each other, according to Brian Lam, founder of The Wirecutter and former head of Gizmodo. When print magazines dominated, Jobs could get either Newsweek or TIME to promote Apple on the front cover by making them compete against each other for an exclusive.

9to5Mac also mentions Apple's strategy in tearing down its biggest competitor -- Android -- by whipping journalists into spreading negative stories. They even note an example earlier in the week where two of their writers were sent a story by Apple PR, attempting to portray Android in a negative light.

Apple’s PR team isn’t above quietly spreading negative press about competitors. For instance, when a publication “has written something negative about Android, [Apple PR] would send those stories around,” telling writers something like “that’s how we feel.”

The most shocking detail, however, may be Apple's aggressive and highly proactive efforts towards media coverage.

Members of Apple PR seek tabloid photos of celebrities holding iPhones, while others read Apple-focused blogs actively, and keep tabs on prominent Apple beat writers using anonymized social media accounts. A former Apple PR employee notes that the team enjoys being an “overall watchdog,” monitoring what the media is saying about the company every day.

These PR strategies are certainly not a new phenomenon, and Apple is far from the only company, especially not the only tech company, which embraces aggressive tactics to develop good press and bury bad news. However, Apple is on top of the press game for a reason -- the lack of significant coverage on Apple's role in the recent celebrity nude leaks, which were purported to be obtained via an exploit in iCloud's code, being a major example --  and its competitors can learn something from Apple's masterful media gaming.

Many companies are known to sever their relationships with news outlets who portray them in a poor light, so 9to5mac's report is brave considering its status as a predominant Apple community. Considering all of its tactics mentioned above, and as more and more news outlets pick up the story, seeing Apple's reaction to the report will be interesting. 

Source: 9to5Mac | Image via Wallpaperpics.net

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DaveBG said,
And if you reed some of the comments on the web you can also clearly spot their paid commentators too.

Mishinama tried to do something similar to this with Xbox One and the press hammered them AND Microsoft for it and grabbed there pitch forks. Why is it that Apple is getting a pass on this abysmal behavior?

They have also long used invites to high profile press events to keep the press in line as well. If you're a tech writer, you need access to these events to be competitive. If you're too negative of Apple, they cut you off and make you get all your Apple news second hand.

when i was working at a political party i forced to create a facebook account and write defensive comments on news sites

This is why I really don't like Apple, its so obvious that they have media around their little finger.
The Verge reviews for example are biased, and clearly made to make Apples products look better. They write down android phones for missing extra storage slots, and calls them boring for not changing the design, etc. Things they never mention, or subtract review points for, concerning Apple products even though they lack similar features.

Apple should be taken to court for miss using the monopoly they had, same as happened with Microsoft.

Wall-swe said,

Apple should be taken to court for miss using the monopoly they had, same as happened with Microsoft.

Apple does not have a monopoly though. Furthermore, why stop at Apple. Let's go after all the other companies doing the same thing while wasting our tax dollars.

JHBrown said,
Apple does not have a monopoly though. Furthermore, why stop at Apple. Let's go after all the other companies doing the same thing while wasting our tax dollars.

At least read my comment, HAD monopoly. Which in the smartphone arena they actually had, and its through that monopoly they took control of the media and journalists.

Wall-swe said,

At least read my comment, HAD monopoly. Which in the smartphone arena they actually had, and its through that monopoly they took control of the media and journalists.

They never had a monopoly either. Are you even old enough to remember Microsoft's monopoly and cut throat business practices? I don't think you know what a monopoly is quite frankly.

Aren't you the one who usually promote that Apple was first in the smartphone industry? How can they be first, and not at the same time be the only company providing a product, without it being monopoly?
And yes I know what happened and how Apple followers where screaming, but its funny how silent they are when Apple is doing the exact same thing using the same tactics.

Wall-swe said,
Aren't you the one who usually promote that Apple was first in the smartphone industry? How can they be first, and not at the same time be the only company providing a product, without it being monopoly?
And yes I know what happened and how Apple followers where screaming, but its funny how silent they are when Apple is doing the exact same thing using the same tactics.
I have never promoted Apple being first in anything. In contrast, I normally state that Apple is late in many instances but at the same time they turn existing technologies into something worthwhile. I am a firm believer that being first does not mean diddly squat. In addition, being first does not make you a monopoly. You just have no competition.

JHBrown said,
I have never promoted Apple being first in anything. In contrast, I normally state that Apple is late in many instances but at the same time they turn existing technologies into something worthwhile. I am a firm believer that being first does not mean diddly squat. In addition, being first does not make you a monopoly. You just have no competition.

He's right

Just look at the rumoured NFC which is going inside the iPhone 6. Whilst android fans (and I'm currently using an android phone as my daily driver over my 5s) are shouting, hey NFC has been inside android for years. What can it actually do?

Apple is more than likely going to be promoting NFC payments. Again, the android fans will be shouting Google Wallet!!!!!!

well.......I have an android with NFC and guess what.....I can't make NFC payments because google wallet isn't available in the UK.

Whilst Apple may be late with NFC, you can bet that when it finally comes, people will actually be able to make use of it!!!

JHBrown said,
In addition, being first does not make you a monopoly. You just have no competition.

Did you by any chance read the article above? They have basically taken control over media and journalists, by being first and having no competition. Probable might be that they are also paying of popular developers to not support android and windows phone.

Haha, hardly surprising. I can think of a few names on Neowin as well that I can swear are on Apple's payroll monitoring the discussions. In fact, one of them is in these very comments, and its not hard to figure out who. ;)

AsherGZ said,
Haha, hardly surprising. I can think of a few names on Neowin as well that I can swear are on Apple's payroll monitoring the discussions. In fact, one of them is in these very comments, and its not hard to figure out who. ;)

Who? I want to ask him/her for an application sheet.

AsherGZ said,
Haha, hardly surprising. I can think of a few names on Neowin as well that I can swear are on Apple's payroll monitoring the discussions. In fact, one of them is in these very comments, and its not hard to figure out who. ;)

And a few MS shills as well :)

This really applies to every walk of life, who does't remember Alex Ferguson banning the BBC because they criticised him. Do you think political parties don't do exactly the same thing and will prefer news outlets who are kind to them.

News - the truth as determined by the powerful

Microsoft doesn't do this. I'm sure MS monitors what media outlets say about it, but it is not in anyway as effective as it should be getting its image and information out there. Ballmer just sat there, and watched the tech media chew his and MS' reputations to shreds, which eventually led to his ousting from MS. People acted as if MS was on the brink of destruction, when it was one of the most enviable profit machines on the planet: all thanks to the media's hatchet job on MS.

It is like MS thinks it should try and placate the media. This of course has been an abysmal failure. MS: the greatest reason many think you are irrelevant, is because the tech media has been portraying you as such for many years. Wake up! The best way to counter this, is to have your own media group portray the opposite image. Set up your own media outlets, and/or support other outlets for influence over them. It doesn't have to be sinister. One way or another, you will have to assert influence over at least a sizeable portion of the voices portraying your image, or else continue down your current path to irrelevancy.

-- the lack of significant coverage on Apple's role in the recent celebrity nude leaks, which were purported to be obtained via an exploit in iCloud's code, being a major example --

It this article deliberately ironic?... I can't help but notice that Neowin hasn't posted a story about this.

Which member of Neowin staff is in bed with Apple? :p

Enron said,
John Callaham was caught in bed with Apple. He got slammed.

As long as the photos aren't synced with iCloud no-one will find out.

the lack of significant coverage on Apple's role in the recent celebrity nude leaks, which were purported to be obtained via an exploit in iCloud's code, being a major example

And sites like the Verge are more interested in focusing on the "sexism" of the leakers. Talk about wagging the dog. This story merely confirms what we suspected all along: The majority of tech sites are in the tank for Apple.

TMYW said,

And sites like the Verge are more interested in focusing on the "sexism" of the leakers. Talk about wagging the dog. This story merely confirms what we suspected all along: The majority of tech sites are in the tank for Apple.

errr, no, they are more focused on the hypocrisy of those that defend the privacy but throw that away for nude photos of other people.

Praetor said,

errr, no, they are more focused on the hypocrisy of those that defend the privacy but throw that away for nude photos of other people.

Re-read the story and tell me how many times you see the word "men". Regardless, they're still diverting attention away from Apple's ineptitude.

I think there is room for both stories, but there is a point to the fact that The Verge hasn't even brought up that angle. If it was Microsoft, they'd have a story with 10 tips on how to move away from OneDrive.

raya301 said,
If it was Microsoft, they'd have a story with 10 tips on how to move away from OneDrive.

Yeah, no kidding.

TMYW said,

Re-read the story and tell me how many times you see the word "men". Regardless, they're still diverting attention away from Apple's ineptitude.

I don't think the story is feminist, it just points the problem and exposes it. But alas, that is an issue for another thread.

and i agree with you: there is little talk about the failure that caused all of this: is it proven that it was just iCloud or more services were used? I mean, all of those celebs used iPhones? I guess the reason Ellen isn't in the list is because Samsung gave her a Galaxy :D

TMYW said,

Re-read the story and tell me how many times you see the word "men". Regardless, they're still diverting attention away from Apple's ineptitude.

So you know for a fact these were all iCloud photos or did you, like me, do some research and noted that quite a few of these pictures were not taken with an iPhone and probably never came from iCloud. I suspect they came from multiple places so prematurely just blaming Apple seems ... well ... premature

Monitoring media coverage is pretty much par for the course, no matter the industry. You don't need anonymous accounts to do that, but perhaps they're worried about accidentally interacting (such as accidentally tapping to favorite or retweet on Twitter, or liking on Instagram).

Spreading negative press about competitors and forcing media outlets to spar for exclusives is pretty bush league, though.

Do they really need to do this? I think they have enough people gloating about their products in the news.

The business world is not a friendly place. This practice happens from small mom & pop companies to large corporations.

Sure I can if they were the only company doing it. Behind closed doors many upper management, marketing, board members, and CEO's pull these kinds of stunts to give their company that "edge" many times. If you want a leveled playing field in today's business, you have to play dirty. Sad but true. Which big company doesn't have dirty hands?

JHBrown said,
Sure I can if they were the only company doing it. Behind closed doors many upper management, marketing, board members, and CEO's pull these kinds of stunts to give their company that "edge" many times. If you want a leveled playing field in today's business, you have to play dirty. Sad but true. Which big company doesn't have dirty hands?


So wait, when has that ever excused practices such as this? Shouldn't we call it wrong regardless of who else does it? If we are just going to throw up out hands and say nothing, then nothing will ever change.

If Apple is using shady tactics, then call them out for it. Same goes for anyone else.

trooper11 said,


So wait, when has that ever excused practices such as this? Shouldn't we call it wrong regardless of who else does it? If we are just going to throw up out hands and say nothing, then nothing will ever change.

If Apple is using shady tactics, then call them out for it. Same goes for anyone else.

I agree trooper.

JHBrown said,
Sure I can if they were the only company doing it.

Oh right, so you wouldn't call them out, because others are doing it too?
Blinkers are on again JH!

Hum said,
I think Apple & Google are planning to take over the World.

Well they are doing a pretty good job of it so far.

Hum said,
I think Apple & Google are planning to take over the World.

he' on to us.........................


ladies and gentle men Mr Conway Twitty :glare: :devil: :whistle:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2aeRg_yMSE