Apple says "Don’t blog this"

How do you think this is going over? I think that if you invite people in,and they aren’t under NDA, posting signs asking them not to blog probably isn’t going to do much.

What’s the subtext to the signs anyway? “Please don’t blast us on your blog”? “Life is random, but please don’t talk about us”? “I’m a Mac and I’m very private”?

If I were Steve Jobs, first I’d look around my house and say “no more washing the car and mowing the lawn for me! Whee!” and second, I’d start to think about what some of these things are saying to the market. Mystique is cool, but you can’t manufacture it. Bloggers blog. If you don’t want them blogging, don’t invite them to an event and if you don’t know which attendees are bloggers, then don’t have the event and if you do and are still nervous, then don’t release any proprietary info and if you are relaseing proprietary info, then have them sign a non-disclosure agreement. But please don’t post signs. Gah.

“Welcome, leopards! Please change your spots before entering”

“Hi Customer Evangelists! We don’t trust you”

Comments (19)

  1. Tim says:

    I think your suggestion about a non-disclosure agreement is the best solution. Posting the signs not only doesn’t work, as you pointed out, it really works against Apple’s devotees. Not a lawyer here, but not sure how well that sign would stand up in court.

  2. James says:

    "Mystique is cool, but you can’t manufacture it."

    Like hell you can’t. Apple came back from nowhere based on looks alone.

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    Tim- yep and I think that if they did that, they would have to go after people in court and still it would be a PR nightmare b/c Apple would be seen as bullying a blogger. The more I think through it, the more I see it as black and white: have the conference and let people blog or don’t have the conference.

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    James…OK, that is the funniest thing I have heard in a while. Maybe a new marketing campaign: "Go with Mac based on looks alone!" Guess that explains the candy colored computers.

  5. Wine-Oh says:

    I agree. Its one thing to tell people to turn their cell phones off, but its another to tell them to blog or not. Maybe they should have a computer check stand like a coat check, to ensure people dont bring their laptops into the conference. I disagree with that signage. Starts things off with a bad vibe.

  6. Julian says:

    Heather, your criticism has been well earned by Apple. Isn’t it ironic that Apple first gained notoriety with their Orwellian Big Brother TV commercial portraying lemming PC users marching off to their demise. As a long time Apple admirer I must say that I am frequently perplexed by Apple’s UTTER stupidity in certain areas. Their stance at WWDC about blogging makes the grade.  Their stubbornness to listen to people who are *trying* to help them with their blind spots is what continues to amaze me. I have a Mac. I love MANY aspects of Apple and I cringe every time they do something this dumb. With the news about their stock option debacle coming to full light I think they’re right on the edge of imploding again. I HOPE that this time they start listening before it’s too late.

  7. HeatherLeigh says:

    Julian—it is ironic. To me, it seems out of character for the company, but not necessarily for Steve. I know some folks that work at Apple and from what I understand, the features that go into their products are the features Steve likes..period. Hardly the democratic company that has been the darling of graphically-inclined techno-hipsters. I guess the thing I find confusing is that in the past, Apple has been so good at "being Apple"…taking advantage of customer love (hence, the TV ads that I believe are about retaining current customers moreso than getting new ones), building deep loyalty, marketing around lifestyle. Some of their inbound product strategies notwithstanding, they have mastered the outbound side and really kept that image intact. This bonehead move defies logic.

  8. David says:

    Everyone seems to be missing the point, which is  that anyone who is attending these WWDC sessions IS under NDA-  NDA is a requirement of their participation- because the sessions delve far deeper into Leopard, including all of that "Top Secret" stuff that Jobs alluded to in the keynote. The keynote is only to give people a taste of what’s to come, it’s a tease, nothing more.

    The keynote is the ONLY part of WWDC that is for public consumption- hence it is exempted specifically on those signs- and that is why everyone seems to be complaining about how little info Jobs spilled about Leopard. Along with "Where are the iPods, where’s the media center?"

    This is pure ignorance on the part of the media.

    Why is it so difficult for folks to understand that the WWDC is for the engineers and the designers of hardware and software, it is NOT, nor has it ever been, for the general public- it has nothing to do with "customer evangelists"- there aren’t any of them at WWDC. It’s only about the people who are crafting the next operating system, and the people who are crafting programs to run on it.

  9. RJD says:

    Maybe it’s reverse psychology?  In the past, when they’ve really wanted sessions to be hush-hush, they have put attendees under NDA (like back in January, with they demo’ed new Macs on Intel chips).  Despite that, much buzz was generated.  So, they decide to save to marketing moolah this time.

  10. HeatherLeigh says:

    David- I consider any developer who builds on a platform a customer (we consider developers our customers). Also, anyone whose use of software drives more use of that software. I still see them as customers. If everyone is under NDA, then I still don’t userstand why the signs are necessary. My point was that it impacts their brand perception.

    RJD- so maybe this time they think the signs are the difference between people under NDA blogging about it and people under NDA not blogging about it. Signs. Reverse psych as marketing….hmm. Very web 2.0?

  11. David says:

    HeatherLeigh: are you comfortable with your customers making public knowledge, anything they learn in the course of their dealings with you? No matter what it might be?

    Are the signs "necessary"? No, perhaps not. But the nature of any culture of "geeks" is such that some of them can be immature and overly-enthusiastic, and perhaps write things in their blogs out of impulse. Remember too that the culture of blogging has really only exploded in the last year or so, hit the mainstream as it were. It’s a problem that hasn’t been seen before.

    Also, I’m sure this is in reaction to the confusion over  "blogging = journalism" – yes or no?  In this case let there be no confusion: blogging secrets after you’ve signed an NDA is absolutely actionable, and Apple I’m sure would prosecute to the fullest extent. Absolutely no cover of "journalism" here.

    This is simply a polite (and perfectly reasonable) way of reminding people of their responsibility- and, perhaps, to save a few people from themselves, in the middle of the night, when they are hopped up on twinkies and Red Bull, cursor wavering over the Send button.

  12. Simone says:

    Heather, wouldn’t you agree that the typical consumer doesn’t know, much less give a crap, if Apple discourages blogging? Let’s not lose site of the big picture. A lot of marketers are happy in their little bubbles without paying mind to what real people think and want. Salesmen don’t sell to other salesmen.

  13. HeatherLeigh says:

    David- I’m not in marketing, so it’s not really for me to decide on behalf of Microsoft. Also, we don’t have the same brand perception as Apple. When I present at conferences, my info is bloggable. I’m not arguing whether Apple wants thes efolks to blog or not (obviously they don’t), but the impact the message of the signs has on their brand…it’s inconsistent with the image they have put out there.

    Simone- what does the "typical consumer" have to do with this? I’m not writing my blog for the "typical consumer" and I’m not particularly focused on the "big picture" with this post, just the inconsistency between Apple’s branding and the signs.

  14. HeatherLeigh says:

    David- I’m not in marketing, so it’s not really for me to decide on behalf of Microsoft. Also, we don’t have the same brand perception as Apple. When I present at conferences, my info is bloggable. I’m not arguing whether Apple wants these folks to blog or not (obviously they don’t), but the impact the message of the signs has on their brand…it’s inconsistent with the image they have put out there.

    Simone- what does the "typical consumer" have to do with this? I’m not writing my blog for the "typical consumer" and I’m not particularly focused on the "big picture" with this post, just the inconsistency between Apple’s branding and the signs.

  15. Simone says:

    Heather, the "typical consumer" is what you, as a marketing professional, should be focusing on. I know your blog exists primarily for your personal enjoyment but maybe you should mix it up with some real marketing advice. You can use this forum to teach novices and other pros about the inner workings of marketing. Instead you post photos of your dog eating peanut butter.

  16. HeatherLeigh says:

    Simone, I think I’ve made it exceptionally clear that I am not in marketing. I’ve mentioned it in the comment above yours, in the header of my blog in past posts. Again (again!), I am a Staffing Manager not a Marketing Manager. Even if I were a marketer, it would not mean my focus would the "typical consumer". Companies don’t have the luxury of going after just the "typical consumer", they do customer segmentation to understand the psychographics of different groups of consumers. My blog does not exist for my personal enjoyment…it’s part of my work. The goal is to develop relationships with people that may want to know more about the people working at Microsoft (specifically, me) and consider working here.

    Perhaps you could start your own blog instead of frequently criticizing mine. If you don’t like my blog, by all means, don’t visit. If what I post bothers you, maybe you aren’t the "typical consumer" of my blog. Others seem to be enjoying it.

  17. Jim S says:

    Lighten up Simone! I like seeing photos of Heather’s dog. Cute dog btw 😉

  18. Lucien says:

    Heather – I think the difference is that in the past, developers have forgotten that the sessions after the keynote are under NDA, and have blogged about them.

    I want to help Apple be successful in the future, and the way to do that is to keep people from copying features/ideas until they are done and ready. It’s the least I can do to uphold my NDA, as much as I want to spout off to the world how awesome the other stuff was I saw the rest of the week. (I might do that anyway, just in a generic sense).

  19. HeatherLeigh says:

    Lucien- the thing is, they need to find a way to remind those people that is not so against their brand image. I’m not sure how common these big conferences are with audiences under NDA, but I do think that trying to control the actions of a big group that is not employed by your company may be a bit futile. I still think there’s a better way. If Apple keeps suing bloggers, it’s going to have a bigger brand isue on it’s hands. They shouldn’t want to have to sue bloggers but I think that they are basically threateneing to do just that.

    One thing that Apple does really well is build brand loyalty. I mean, *really* well. People become devotees. Part of that is great marketing/positioning and part of that is leadership (I’d say great products but we all now that many great products die because of a lack of marketing and leadership). Apple knows the kind of devotion it has built among customers, at least it thought it did. In some sense, I think that it may have overestimated the degree to which people would take their "don’t blog this" attitude. What they didn’t consider is that while the developers are interested in the technology, they don’t have a vested interest in keeping it from the competition. On the other hand, they can blog about it, which can potentially raise their online status. So Apple went and sued this person that blogged some of their stuff. I am sure that they didn’t want to sue (actually, I am not sure, but nobody wants to tie up resources), but I think the blogging went against their perception of all-in customer loyalty. They didn’t consider that the message they were sending caused more harm than good. On the one hand, it discouraged others from blogging their unreleased product info, on the other hand, it damaged their brand image. In general, the tech market thinks blogging is good…people build relationships, share info, etc. There’s something democratic and organic about it. And Apple trying to squash that (right or wrong) is inconsistent with the brand image they have worked so hard to build.

    They have to weigh the risks and rewards of what they are trying to do. They want to get the developers excited about what they are putting out. They want them to talk about it, but not too much. On the other hand, there’s a risk of someone blogging it. they have to figure out how to mitigate the risk without doing something that harms their brand. That’s it. I’m not saying it is an easy problem to solve. But since they know about the power of blogs all too well, they could have considered that someone was going to blog those signs. They need to go back and find a better solution to building excitement without turning off bloggers.

    All just my opinion from the outside. I really do like the company (well, mostly the iPod peice of it). I just think that the signs were a really bad idea.