How Apple conducts "controlled leaks"

Matt Bowman · January 6, 2010 · Short URL:

The company's former senior marketing manager explains how Apple feeds the rumor mill with impunity.

 The tech press has been salivating over every rumor, leak and theory connected to Apple’s tablet and Google’s phone the last few weeks. PE Hub summed up the buzz in a well-worded tweet yesterday:

“Nexus One. (i don't actually care, but worried i would lose my twitter credentials if i didn't utter the phrase at least once).”

Much of that buzz is driven by leaks from the companies, which officially keep a tight lid until the announcement date, both to maintain mystique and avoid accusations of manipulating the stock market.

But given that the buzz does so much good for the companies, one wonders how many leaks are actually orchestrated by the companies themselves.

Apple’s former senior marketing manager John Martellaro has the answer: a lot. In a must-read post for anyone in media or PR, Martellaro explains in detail how Apple conducts these “controlled leaks.” In a nutshell, leadership decides some bit of information needs to get out there, an insider is chosed to have a phone call (never an email!) with a reporter where the information is “unofficially” conveyed and reporting it is encouraged. Both save face after the fact by blaming it all on a misunderstanding.

There’s more—Martello dissects what probably transpired behind the scenes leading up to Monday’s story in the WSJ confirming that existence of the Tablet and the likely price point of $1000. It’s worth the read.

I’m guessing Apple’s plan to sell 10 million tablets, leaked by a former Google exec in China, and the screenshots of the Nexus One purchase page that "slipped out" were both at least mildly intentional . Just a guess.

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