What Steve Jobs Taught PR Practitioners

I’ll admit that I wouldn’t have recognized Steve Jobs’ picture next to a line-up of other middle-aged men in black turtlenecks a year ago but now it would seem impossible not to, with tributes playing on every major news station within an hour of his death and movements like Wear Black for Steve Day that seemed to have sprung up out of nowhere. People are eager to pay their respects to someone who has helped innovate some of the world’s most popular electronic products, but how many recognize what he has done for PR practitioners? After all, tactical public relations maneuvers helped his company get the recognition it deserved.

Number five out of “Steve Jobs and the 7 Rules of Success” (an article posted Friday on Yahoo!) urges professionals to create insanely different experiences. When the visionary came back to head the company in 1997 he took Apple’s 350 products down to 10 within a two-year period and really focused on the customer service aspect of the business. He understood that he was selling consumer electronic products and built the Apple stores to enrich people’s lives as soon as they walked in the door. It was about pushing for that emotional connection, or love mark, with a brand instead of focusing on sales. How do you take a lifeless, cold object and create such an endearing staple in people’s lives? It was the PR practitioner in him that realized the importance in making sure that there was a special bond between man and machine with each of his products.

The sixth rule of success is one that, as a seasoned PR student, immediately caught my eye. Jobs has always been a great storyteller and mastering the message is one of the foremost reasons why he was so successful. During product launches where he introduced his latest creations, he let his enthusiasm and choice of words enrapture the whole audience and, once they were feeling inspired, introduced a simple-looking machine with huge potential. From Steve Jobs, PR practitioners learned that Power Point presentations could be taken down a notch from the heavily-scripted, overbearing slides that we are used to seeing to become simpler and more visual like, well, a Mac. In his launch of the iPad 2, Jobs debuts it using no more than 15 words per slide and almost no complete sentences. In fact, most slides contain one or the other — a graphic or one word. This is an example of how powerful good communication skills can be. “He informed, he educated, he inspired, and he entertained, all in one presentation.”

Who knew that the man I couldn’t recognize a year ago would make such an impact in my future career. Steve Jobs’ entrepreneurial outlook on life was steeped in success because he knew how to communicate what he wanted. As a PR practitioner, it would be wise to take note of the tactics that this former CEO utilized to build Apple into the strong company that it is today.

What are some other important lessons that Steve Jobs has taught PR practitioners throughout his 14-year reign as Apple’s CEO?

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3 Responses to What Steve Jobs Taught PR Practitioners

  1. lworthin says:

    I was very sad to hear about the passing of Steve Jobs. What he did for Apple was incredible! The branding he developed of great quality products with amazing customer service is everything a PR practitioner can dream for their company. His simple presentations are something that I admire immensely and it has taught us all how less can be more. Steve Jobs was a great teacher, and showed us all that one person could make a difference. He will be missed.

  2. rsteinga says:

    Steve Jobs has had an immense impact on the public relations industry. As a little bit of a tech-lover, I have known about Mr. Jobs for quite some time, however only in the sense that he was a powerful CEO. Until now, I didn’t quite realize how his tactics at Apple applied to me as a public relations student/future practitioner. I think one of the most important lessons that Steve Jobs taught is that we have to move forward. Whether that be a community, business, or technology, if we don’t continue to push ourselves, we will stay still.

  3. caolson says:

    One of the most important responsibilities of PR practitioners is to build and maintain relationships, whether it be with clients, stakeholders or organizations, and I think Steve showed us how best to do that. He took the unemotional realm of technology and turned it into a relationship with his customers in a way that made them develop strong connections and emotions toward his products, which I think is one of the most important lessons PR practitioners can take away from Steve’s many lasting impressions. If he can create relationships with his customers in the seemingly emotionless technological field, then we can do it in other fields as well.

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