A simple Apple “PR vs Advertising” secret

Just before beginning this hellaciously long drive to Alaska, I stopped in a used bookstore to sell 250 of my favorite books (that were too heavy to fit in my RAV4), but in the process, I bought one more: an old copy of Guy Kawasaki’s, The Macintosh Way.

I was going to wait to read The Macintosh Way until I got settled in Alaska, but I’ve had some down time the last few days — waiting out some brutal Canadian winter weather and waiting for new winter tires to be delivered — so I cracked it open.

Tonight, on page 123 — right before some Iditarod sled dogs started barking like crazy at feeding time in the parking lot — I read a few lines from Mr. Kawasaki that succinctly explain Apple’s marketing and public relations approach:

There’s a big difference between advertising and PR. Advertising is when you tell people how great you are. PR is when someone else says how great you are. PR is better. (This is Jean-Louis’ insight.)

(Jean Louis is Jean-Louis Gassee, former President of Apple Products ... among his other roles with Apple.)

Although this book was published back in 1990, if you know Apple, you know this is their approach to PR to this day. I don’t know their exact numbers at the moment, but they seem to pay very little money for advertising, yet they get a ton of PR — most of it positive — through a cult of Apple and Mac enthusiasts. (I suppose these days I need to say Mac, iPhone, iPod, and soon-to-be iPad enthusiasts.)

I’ll expand on this more in a future article, but for now, as I pass through Canadian motels with wireless internet access at 9,600 baud speeds, I’ll leave it at that.

(I originally wrote this article in March, 2010.)