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May 27, 2010
Steve Jobs Doing PR via E-mails

Steve Jobs is taking strategic advantage of e-mail to be a bit more open about what Apple is doing and why. Wired magazine's Gadget Lab blog reports that Jobs "is carefully reinventing his role as CEO" via e-mail.

"Most Fortune 500 CEOs are about as accessible as Kim Jong II," Gadget Lab's post begins. "but Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been breaking the mold. He's sent terse e-mail replies to more than a dozen customer inquiries – and one journalist – in the past few months."

Jobs' turn to e-mail communication began about the time he announced Apple's iPad in January. His messages are terse but informative, and coming from its CEO, obviously it provides insight into Apple's thinking. And they're humanizing the secretive company a bit. Check the Gadget Lab post for some examples.

Steve Rubel, a senior vice president of Edelman Digital, is quoted as saying it's unlikely that Jobs'  "PR team is helping draft his e-mails, because they come off as very frank and human."

"They're more open than the way they were before," Rubel adds. "I wouldn't define Apple as open, but more open. There's a big difference."

PR expert Brian Solis is quoted as saying, "What he (Jobs) is trying to do is strategically pick the right people that are going to literally spread his word verbatim. With just one e-mail he's able to talk to the entire world."

Like when Jobs replied to a customer who was upset over the iPad's delayed launch overseas.

"Are you nuts?," that e-mail went. "We are doing the best we can. We need enough units to have a responsible and great launch."

However tersely it may be, we're glad that Jobs is talking. We're immensely relieved that, after his reported liver transplant last year, he's back and functioning so well.

Not every CEO, obviously, has the verve to put him or herself out there via e-mail, and we're impressed that Jobs is doing so. May it add to Apple's acceptability and profitability, which has been doing very nicely under Jobs' leadership. Our morning paper reports that Apple yesterday passed Microsoft as the world's most valuable technology company, worth $222.12 billion. The only American company valued higher is Exxon Mobil with $278.64 billion. 

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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