This past Monday, as I feverishly refreshed Engadget’s live Blog of Steve Jobs presentation at the WWDC conference, I was reminded of this excerpt from the book about the development of the Segway, Code Name Ginger, and this quote from author and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery:
“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”
Apple has access to the same sort of raw material (in the form of people, technologies, strategies and tactics, etc) as their competitors, and yet is a very, very different company than all of them. I’m not going to speculate as to why that is, this TedX video makes one argument, but I do think part of the answer – as suggested by the book excerpt linked to above which heavily features some of Steve Jobs thinking on promotions – is that the company is just more sophisticated and disciplined when it comes to marketing than most other technology companies.
Jobs presentation at the recent WWDC – and really, all his presentations – is a great showcase for some simple, straightforward marketing principles that more companies should employ:
According to PR Newser Ken Auletta reports in his book, Googled that Larry Page told his PR department that he would give them “a total of eight hours of his time that year for press conferences, speeches, or interviews.”
Supposedly the Google founders aren’t fond of PR. Although Google apparently has 130 people working in the PR department so maybe they don’t find PR so distasteful after all . . .
The interesting thing, to me anyway, is that if I were Larry Page – and I’m a long way from being Larry Page – I’d probably do the same thing. In fact it strikes me as a pretty sensible approach for Google right now.
Let me explain.
A lot of times public relations professionals focus on two things – the message and the pitch – at the expense of all else. But there’s a third quality – connected to messaging and pitching – that we don’t spend enough time thinking about and that is at the heart of strategic public relations: the narrative.
The narrative, as the name implies, is the story of the company or organization over a set period of time. It has protagonists, antagonists, plots, plot devices, climaxes and denouements. There’s never just one of course and large brands such as Google always have several narratives they want to be associated with, several they wish people would forget, and several they hope never get told.
There was a time when the ‘silicon valley whiz kids behind that oddly-named new search engine’ made sense as Google’s dominant narrative. That narrative got old a long time ago. The story Google is telling now, the narrative they deserve to be known for, needs to be spun around the various ways they are unlocking access to various types of data and the incredible array of talent – beyond Brin and Page – who are making that happen.
The Page/Brin celebrity gets in the way of that narrative and obscures it. It may be harder to secure a journalist’s attention without them – I wouldn’t know – but if staying consistent with the right narrative takes more work then isn’t that what you have to do?