The iPhone PR Disaster is A Good Lesson

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Venus Williams might retire? Tom Cruise has a big-time flop? Apple’s latest and greatest is a hunk of junk? What the funk is happening?!? This week delivered a triple scoop of public relations travesties that offer valuable lessons for us all – particularly the iPhone incident.

Earlier this week, thanks to phony tweets from a fake Steve Jobs, the world panicked for a brief few hours when the Daily Mail ran a story saying that the iPhone 4 may be recalled. The Mail pulled the story after realizing the whole deal was a sham; Apple rolled its eyes in typical fashion and then moved on. But what the company failed to address is the phone’s very real reception issues. Apparently, the über-snazzy gadget has one tiny, little issue: two antennas built into the band that wraps around the phone, causing poor signal strength depending on where your hand is at any given moment.

Apple’s response? Just don’t hold it that way and you’ll be fine. In other words, thanks for the $400 bucks and we’re sorry that it doesn’t work but you’re the problem, not the phone. Eww. With a million of the phones sold in less than a week, the very least Apple could have done is issued a video on correct usage of the phone or tweeted downloadable instructions for proper phone use.

For a company that rolls out a new item with mucho fanfare several times a year, a little grace and helpfulness doesn’t seem like too much to ask for. This is a public relations foul. The populous won’t put up with a “buy it and shut up” attitude for long before moving on. In the age of micro-blogging and instant PR remedies, we’ve seen a little personalized attention and amends go a long way. After all, it’s not as if Steve Jobs and Co. don’t have the resources to quickly address their customers concerns. Heck, even hip little Hollywood gelato places hop on Twitter to apologize for running out of a flavor.

Bottom line: Marketers and small business owners can’t afford to shrug off customer concerns. We know this, and that’s why we rush to our laptops and get busy trying to fix PR train-wrecks. So this faux pas is a reminder to keep fighting the good fight.

But let’s hear from you kids. Is this whole iPhone drama much ado about nothing? Or does it leave a bad taste in your mouth? Share with the rest of the class below!

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