Apple’s PR Team Gets More Aggressive with the Message

For a long time, it seemed like Steve Jobs and the team at Apple saw traditional PR approaches and tools like press releases as ancient relics. They were over it.

Things are different now, though. The Wall Street Journal tells us that, in the light of recent stock dips and disappointing sales numbers, Apple has decided to “subtly [increase] some of its PR—at least for now.”

What does that mean? Well, the team issued an honest-to-God press release to mark the all-but-meaningless evolution of its operating system from iOS 6 to iOS 6.1–and this was “the first time Apple has issued an official press release for a non-major mobile software” roll-out since way back in 2010.

That’s not all: In addition to posting an uncharacteristically large number of press releases so far in 2013, the company has also been more active about sending positive third-party media mentions to journalists. One of the pieces circulating is a study predicting that, by 2014, Apple will be “just as accepted in the enterprise as Microsoft“. Wait, a study predicting that your company will be as much a part of the status quo as your biggest, lamest competitor?

This is not the Apple we know and love.

The main reason given for this growing PR push is a recognition that the competition is heating up–especially in the all-important mobile market. While millions still see Apple as the leader in design and quality, that perception doesn’t always translate to sales. The point is this: Macs and iPhones are wonderful products, but they’re not going to crush their competitors anytime soon, primarily because Microsoft, Samsung and other brands enjoy a significant price advantage.

Unfortunately for the company and its investors, today’s Apple looks far less confident in its own superiority than it was even six months ago. And public perception, as we all know, is a big deal.

Is Apple losing its spot at the head of the cool class? Will this new PR push help the brand hang on?