Infinite Loop August 29, 2014


Apple CEO Tim Cook with former VP of Worldwide Communications Katie Cotton

“Beautifully, unapologetically plastic.”

“Feature for feature, it’s identical to iPad Air in every way.”

“Just avoid holding it in that way.”

Apple’s public relations (PR) department is probably the best in the world — certainly more impressive at shaping and controlling the discussion of its products than any other technology company. Before customers get their first chance to see or touch a new Apple product, the company has carefully orchestrated almost every one of its public appearances: controlled leaks and advance briefings for favored writers, an invite-only media debut, and a special early review process for a group of pre-screened, known-positive writers. Nothing is left to chance, and in the rare case where Apple doesn’t control the initial message, it remedies that by using proxies to deliver carefully crafted, off-the-record responses.

Except for a few big exceptions, such as the memorably off-pitch quotes above, Apple’s “tell them what to believe” PR strategy has worked incredibly well for years. But it has also created tensions between the company and the people who cover it, as well as within Apple itself. The company’s long-time head of PR, Katie Cotton, left the company earlier this year as CEO Tim Cook openly sought to make a major change in the way Apple interacted with the press and its customers. As the hunt for Cotton’s replacement is still in progress, and the depth of Apple’s commitment to change remains unclear, we look today at the techniques Apple has used to quietly manipulate its coverage over the years.

You can navigate between the chapters, below:

– Part 1) Apple Events and Shredded White Booklets

– Part 2) Introducing the Teams: How PR Is Organized at 3 Infinite Loop

– Part 3) Strategies: The “Art of Deep Background” and Controlling the Press

– Part 4) The Departure of a “Tyrant”

– Part 5) Two Heads In Place Of One

– Part 6) Controversies: From Maps to Beats to Haunted Empires

– Part 7) Product Reviews, Briefings, & Reviewer’s Guides

– Part 8) Steve Jobs and the Process Behind Press Releases

– Part 9) A Friendlier, More Transparent Future?

Two months in the making, this article is the product of over a dozen interviews with journalists, bloggers, and PR professionals, including many who have worked at Apple.

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Infinite Loop August 10, 2014

The existence of Apple University, a college of sort for teaching the Apple way at Apple’s Infinite Loop headquarters in Cupertino, California, is not a secret. But the details of how Apple University works and what the school teaches have been mostly hidden from the spotlight. Today, The New York Times has published a fairly extensive profile of Apple University, which is well-worth a read.

Unlike many corporations, Apple runs its training in-house, year round. The full-time faculty — including instructors, writers and editors — create and teach the courses. Some faculty members come from universities like Yale; Harvard; the University of California, Berkeley; Stanford; and M.I.T., and some continue to hold positions at their schools while working for Apple.

Apple University is run by former Yale business school dean Joel Podolny, and Podolny took a full-time role as Dean of Apple University earlier this year as he handed off his former Human Resources responsibilities to Denise Young-Smith. The New York Times’s profile discusses some of the classes. Courses range from those for the leaders of newly acquired companies to learn how to integrate their former businesses into Apple to courses about simplifying products.

In “What Makes Apple, Apple,” another course that Mr. Nelson occasionally teaches, he showed a slide of the remote control for the Google TV, said an employee who took the class last year. The remote has 78 buttons. Then, the employee said, Mr. Nelson displayed a photo of the Apple TV remote, a thin piece of metal with just three buttons. How did Apple’s designers decide on three buttons? They started out with an idea, Mr. Nelson explained, and debated until they had just what was needed — a button to play and pause a video, a button to select something to watch, and another to go to the main menu.

While Apple University teaches Apple employees some key lessons about Apple’s decision making processes that led to the company’s rapid growth and success over the past decade, the most important take away is that Apple has set up a unique and comprehensive experience for ensuring that the company continues to thrive in the immediate post-Steve Jobs era and beyond.

Infinite Loop June 12, 2014

Photo via Foursquare

According to employee tweets and photos, Apple opened a stunning new Caffè Macs employee cafeteria at the corner of Bandley and Alves Dr. in Cupertino this past Tuesday. Located close to the company’s first campus building, Apple received approval to build at this location in early 2012, and after 2 years of work, the new cafeteria is complete.

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Infinite Loop December 16, 2013

Infinite Loop October 11, 2013

New photos from the San Jose Mercury News today reveal additional details about Apple’s new campus, slated to be completed sometime in either 2015 or 2016. A scale model of the planned building was shown to The Mercury News by Apple’s CFO, Peter Oppenheimer, located at an office on the 175-acre site of Apple’s planned campus. According to Oppenheimer:

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Infinite Loop April 24, 2013

Apple has just revised its plans for its massive upcoming new headquarters, scheduled to be completed by 2016. The revised plans, known as Submittal 6, focus less on the structure of the building itself, instead highlighting the surrounding land and facilities, showing off new bike paths, larger parking areas, and photos of street renderings.

The parking areas have been increased in capacity from 9,000 to 9,240 in the main lot, and 1,500 to 1,740 in an additional location, the report states. Updated bike access plans include new features such as enhanced bike lanes called “buffered bike lanes,” as well as bike boxes and two-stage turn boxes (images below).

Although there will be an incremental increase in gross office and research and development floor area of approximately 20%, the efficient use of the main site will result in almost tripling the landscaped area. Underground and structured parking will replace 9,220 surface parking spaces – creating almost three times more open space.

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