Three PR skills to learn from Apple vs. FBI

The dispute between Apple and the FBI has created a national debate, but there are some PR skills to be learned from the case.

1: Know your rights

Apple was put in a difficult situation in the case against the FBI.

Apple was put in a difficult situation in the case against the FBI. (Twitter, @Vircom_Inc)

The FBI is fighting Apple on the basis of the All Writs Act, claiming that Apple needs to create new software that eliminates the number of passcode tries allowed for national safety reasons.

Apple fought this request because they understand their rights and what giving them up would mean for the future of their company. If Apple creates this software for the FBI, there is no guarantee that the FBI will only use it this one time, and there is also a chance that the software could get into the wrong hands.

Being knowledgeable in legal rights keeps your company from agreeing to terms that could be detrimental to future success.

2: Be transparent about your actions

Apple, the company that normally keeps a very quiet PR presence, has made sure to keep their public informed on what is going on and why they are making the actions they are making.

The content of their dispute with the FBI is foreign to most of Apple’s customers. Unless you are an expert in privacy laws and digital encryption, you may have a hard time following what the whole debate is about. You may even struggle to understand if you should side with Apple or with the FBI.

Apple made sure to explain everything to their public by releasing a customer letter, which can be viewed on their website.

Transparency is important in the world or PR. If you aren’t transparent with your public, they will not know whether they should support you or the opposing side. Being transparent allows you the opportunity to inform your customers directly instead of having your customers informed by third parties that may not represent your stance correctly.

3: Stand by what you promise

PR can be difficult at times because it may seem like you have to try to please everyone. In this case, Apple is in a tough position between helping the FBI and keeping their promise of privacy to their customers.

There are people who want Apple to help the FBI and people who don’t. In times like this, it’s impossible to please everyone. So what should a company do?

A good solution to this question is to stand by what you have already promised. Customers need to be able to trust your company. If Apple were to help the FBI and create software that takes away from the privacy of their customers, people would possibly lose trust that Apple stands by what they say.

Seth Fiegerman, Senior Business Reporter at Mashable, says it best in his article.

“The bet, according to marketing and technology experts we spoke with, is that Apple may lose more in the longterm if it isn’t seen as a staunch defender of user privacy at a time when consumers are placing more and more sensitive personal information on smartphones, tablets and computers,” said Fiegerman. “Trust, even more than high-resolution cameras and fast processors, may be the top product feature of the future.”

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