The Gong Blog

With the X, Apple refreshes the iPhone and its media strategy

If you haven’t heard, iPhone releases its iPhone X today. I’ve been so interested in the device that MacRumors.com is now the second most visited site on my current iPhone, right under my favorite tech website TheVerge.com.

In addition to new features like Face ID and an OLED screen, the updated iPhone X comes with a new public relations strategy to promote the release. Here is what’s new.

The 24-hour embargo

Since the iPhone 6’s release in 2014, iPhone reviews on the major tech sites have come out the Tuesday before the phone’s Friday release. Apple sends out test units about a week beforehand so journalists can thoroughly try out the new phones with the agreement that reviews won’t appear until the Tuesday before launch. This time around, Apple tweaked their embargo strategy and gave most journalists only 24 hours with the phones. Apple also let Wired.com’s Steven Levy, one of the first reviewers of the original iPhone 10 years ago, have dibs a day earlier than everyone else.

Targeting micro influencers

Apple traditionally gives review units only to journalists at top tier outlets like The New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today, as well as smaller tech outlets. According to Recode.net, Apple invited a group of YouTube influencers to try out the phone this time. This strategy gives weight to the importance of incorporating micro-influencers into promotional efforts. The selected YouTubers — like Booredatwork.com, HighSnobiety and UrAvgConsumer — don’t reach the millions of people that news organizations like The New York Times reach, but they do get the new $1,000 iPhone in front of a younger audience that’s more likely to be early adopters.

Leaning into celebrities

In the past, Apple didn’t typically give new products to celebrities to create buzz and excitement before launch. For the X release, the company leaned into Mindy Kaling’s humor for a humorous review on Glamour.com. I’ll be interested to see if any other celebs end up with an X ahead of Friday’s release. Al Roker did look very tempted by tech journalist Katie Linendoll’s review unit on Tuesday morning.

So what can we take away from this new approach by Apple? More than anything, I think Apple sees the value in working with influencers — outside of the traditional media — to win approval and fanfare for the new X.

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POSTED IN: Media Relations, Public Relations

Cameron McPherson

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