Aug 17, 2009

Apple Streisands Itself [Flackery]

Bryan Appleyard's lengthy Steve Jobs profile in the Times of London breaks no real news about the Apple CEO. And yet everyone's talking about it. Why? Because Apple tried so hard to stop the story.

Jobs and his secretive minions are notorious for this sort of behavior; the company famously derailed a Vanity Fair excerpt of Alan Deutschman's Jobs biography. Apple flacks had less luck with the Times:

"We want to discourage profiles," an Apple PR tells me stiffly, apparently unaware she is waving a sackful of red rags at a herd of bulls. Another PR rings the editor of this magazine to try to halt publication of this piece.

This attempt to block the report launched a flurry of headlines about a story that was otherwise a thumb-sucker: "Apple Attempts to Suppress Steve Jobs Profile Article;" "Apple Tries to Kill Steve Jobs Story in Sunday Times;" "Apple Practices 'Corporate Omerta';" etc. The incident was a perfect illustration of the Streisand Effect, named after an incident in which Barbara Streisand attempted to remove from a public database a photograph of her house, causing the image to spread far more widely than it would have otherwise.

It's foolish PR, sure, but this sort of heavy-handedness is also as good a sign as any that Jobs has resumed his very firm grip on Apple Inc. Welcome back, Steve!

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