The Silent Treatment

Apple Inc.

I was trained to teach high school English.  If you want to try a presentation skills challenge, try presenting poetry structure to the non college-bound freshmen at 8:30 in the morning.  You almost have to set yourself on fire to get their full attention and many mornings I had a can of lighter fluid in hand as I reached my wit’s end.  But then I realized that all I had to do was shut up.  Inevitably, the class would calm down and listen up, often to hear who was on their way to the dean’s office.

It’s amazing how nature abhors a vacuum, even when we’re talking about noise.  Something needs to fill in empty or unfilled spaces.  Quiet, a noise vacuum, seems unnatural.  Tiger won’t speak?  Let’s all make as much noise as we can about him.  Film legend Greta Garbo didn’t speak to reporters for 50 years.  Think that stopped the chatter?

We had another fantastic version of this over the last few months and the noise built to a crescendo today.  Of course I’m talking about the release of the iPad, Apple‘s new tablet.  There has been buzz about this for years but over the last few months it got louder and when the invitations to a special presentation went out that noise became a roar.  Millions of words, thousands of columns, tweets, and blogs.  But not a peep from Apple.

It’s brilliant PR.  Don’t say a word.  The problem is that almost no other company can get away with it.  Apple has a track record for innovation and products which change the way we look at our digital world so they can.  their mere presence or the rumor thereof can make more noise than any PR effort.   They shut up and everyone else makes noise.

I have no clue if the iPad is revolutionary – the early reviews have both good and bad things to say – but at least Apple can sleep tonight knowing that they got the room exceptionally quiet by keeping silent themselves.

So how about it?  You buying one?

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Filed under digital media, What's Going On

2 responses to “The Silent Treatment

  1. Tom

    Great piece…thank you for the reminder. Silence is also a great tool for all kinds of negotiating.

  2. Don’t plan to buy one, but I am big fan of this method, and not just in PR. It can backfire, but I think the benefits outweigh the negatives. It’s amazing how one person using the ‘silent treatment’ in a conversation can amplify the BS/noise of another. I also read something today in a similar vein about the Colts and their treatment of media during the season. They keep really quiet and let the media speculate and the other team yuck it up in the press. Considering they’re playing in the Super Bowl in a couple weeks, I guess it’s worked out pretty well for them.

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