What I Learned From 10 Years of Doing PR for Apple


Wesson Wang

I first started working for Apple on the PR agency side at Porter Novelli in Sydney, Australia in 1997. Steve Jobs had just returned to the company and the product line was a shamble of computers with confusing names, printers, scanners, and a curious, yet ill-conceived PDA called the Newton.

The outlook for Apple was bleak — most media wrote the company off as a shadow of its former self. The news at the time was an endless recycling of headlines such as “Rotten to the Core” “Sweeping Layoffs Expected at Apple” and “101 Ways to Save Apple.”

Little did I know that over the next 10 years I’d be part of the biggest corporate turnaround in global history. From Sydney I moved to Singapore, where I joined the company and led Asia Pacific regional communications. Eventually, I was transferred to the mothership, Apple’s Cupertino, California headquarters to join Apple’s product PR team.

Over this period, Apple would prove the cynics wrong and dazzle the world with its groundbreaking innovations, masterful marketing and against-the-grain approach. PR played a huge role in this success. Here are five lessons from those days that have played a huge influence on how I approach the craft of communications still today.

Keep it simple. If you ran any Apple press release through a readability level test it would most likely score a level easily understood by an average 4th grade student or lower. Any hint of jargon, cliché, or techno mumbo-jumbo would be removed in the editing process. If a “mere mortal” couldn’t understand our language, then we had failed. And failure was not an option. Steve Jobs read and personally approved every press release.

Run your communications through a readability test to determine how difficult the language is to comprehend as written on a scale of 1 – 100. These are available free on sites such as Word Count Tools and Readability Score.  Ideally, you want your content to score 80 – 89, and requiring the education of an 11-year old child. The easier your communications are to understand, the broader the reach.

Value reporters time. We reserved press releases and events for only the most important products or company milestones. Many significant products, software updates, and personnel changes went by with barely a PR push. Sometimes this would frustrate our internal clients who wanted more market noise about their pet projects or people. But by adopting this approach, reporters knew that when we contacted them we had something important to say.

Contact reporters sparingly and only when you have something compelling to offer. Don’t blast out press releases to mass lists. Research what a reporter covers and make a tailored pitch.

Be hands on. Before we would grant interviews to top executives or send out products for review, we made sure that every reporter, influencer, or analyst had a hands-on product briefing. We would take them through why we designed the button that way or removed that port at the back and point out subtle features they may not see or appreciate without our guidance. After the interview we would follow up to see if they had other questions and subtly probe how their story was shaping up so we could report back. If they were having an issue getting something to work we’d have product marketing and technical support on call 24/7 to help. If the story was shaping into something deviating from our key message, we would ramp up efforts to course correct.

Once you’ve got a reporter’s interest, follow-up diligently but don’t be a pest. If they are reviewing your product, offer to drop it off in person and do a quick demonstration. If they are doing a story about a service you provide, offer up some hand-picked customer and industry references. Ask if they need any images to use with the story. Do they need help understanding where your product fits in with the competition?

Stay focused. Our mission was to tell the story of how our innovative products were giving customers the power to unleash their creativity and change the world. On any given day we’d have all kinds of incoming requests asking for spokespeople to chime in on industry trends, politics, personnel and countless other subjects. If the request didn’t fit in with our mission, we politely declined to participate. It was an approach that helped us use our time most efficiently.

Strive to become an expert in your field. Define your key messages and stick to them. Don’t dilute your social media accounts with off-subject messaging. Offer your help to journalists and industry analysts who cover your field – even if there’s not always a direct benefit to you.

Prioritize media influencers. We didn’t work with long media lists. Instead, we focused on a relatively small number of reporters who we believed set the tone for others to follow. We’d offer these reporters such things as exclusive interviews, following a launch or first shot at reviewing new products. By keeping the number small, our hands-on approach was more manageable. After the initial coverage from influencers, we’d expand our reach to regional reporters and trade publications.

Focus on cultivating close relationships with the top 5-10 media influencers who cover your field. Again, don’t over pitch them. Give them feedback on what you are hearing about their articles from colleagues and partners in the industry. Comment and start discussions on their stories on their Twitter and LinkedIn feeds. When you have an announcement coming up, consider offering them an exclusive angle.

Most importantly, respect your brand. That’s the biggest lesson of all that I learned at Apple. It’s your biggest asset and you have to protect it. Think twice before giving away your products in a raffle. Think carefully about what other brands you associate with. Think different in your approach and aim to stand out from the pack.

Perhaps not every PR team has the luxury of declining requests and being selective about which reporter they work with, but I still value these lessons today. There’s no doubt this approach, applied consistently through some lean but innovation-rich years for Apple, contributed greatly to the company’s dramatic turnaround and success still today.

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What Brand is Tops with Small Business Owners? WordPress, Alignable Index Says

Most Trusted Brands - What Brand is Tops with Small Business Owners? WordPress, Alignable Index Says

Winning the trust of small businesses is not always easy, but one brand that seems to have succeeded is WordPress. According to the new SMB Trust Index, WordPress is the most trusted brand for small businesses, with a Net Promoter Score of 50 in Q2 2016.

Languishing at the bottom of the list are Web.com (-62 NPS score) and Yelp (-65 NPS score).

Most Trusted Brands

Other brands that have scored big are email marketing company MailChimp (46 NPS score), Google (46 NPS score), and online payment gateway Authorize.Net (45 NPS score).

What’s worth noting is that these companies have consistently emerged as the most trusted brands among small businesses. MailChimp’s popularity however has dipped a little since the last quarter of 2015 when it had posted an NPS score of 48.

On the other hand Web.com has seen a further decline, dropping to -62 from a -61 ranking in 2015.

While revealing the rankings, Alignable CEO Eric Groves said in an official release, “We’re thrilled small business owners feel comfortable sharing their sentiment towards SMB brands on Alignable, in ways that help other business owners make great decisions and succeed.”

All About Winning Trust

The report highlights the need for brands to establish a following of loyal business owners who can defend the company when negative comments appear. Interestingly, this holds true for the small and mid-sized businesses as well.

For small business owners, building a base of satisfied customers can play a big role in gaining new customers. Happy customers are the most reliable brand ambassadors companies can afford. That’s why small businesses should focus on keeping existing customers happy so that they can spread the word and bring in more business.

“It’s really all about dialogue — listening — and if these people are carrying your torch, thanking them for that and rewarding them in some way that makes them feel good,” Karen Post, president of Tampa, Fla.-based Brain Tattoo Branding shares with Entrepreneur.

About the SMB Trust Index

The SMB Trust Index is a quarterly survey based on a ranking method called Net Promoter Score. The index comprises over 9,000 ratings from business owners across the U.S.

In order to be included in the SMB Trust Index, brands must receive at least 25 ratings. NPS scores are only shown for brands with 50 ratings or more.

The SMB Trust Index is conducted by Alignable, a Boston-based platform for local businesses.

WordPress Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "What Brand is Tops with Small Business Owners? WordPress, Alignable Index Says" was first published on Small Business Trends

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Advance Review Copies: Why They’re Used and How to Create Them

arcs, advance review copies, books, ebooks, authors, netgalleyOne of the key elements of a professional marketing and publicity campaign is the advance review copy (ARC)—also known as a galley—usually produced and distributed three to six months before the final book goes on sale.

ARCs get used for many purposes, but mainly:

• To gather professional, industry reviews, from sources such as Publishers Weekly
• To solicit endorsements that will be printed in or on the book
• To share with influencers who need to see the book before deciding on potential coverage
• To send to important connections who might be in a position to write an influential, early review or offer some other form of help

Some authors rely primarily on digital advance review copies, usually in PDF form—similar to the file that is ultimately sent to the printer or uploaded to a service like IngramSpark.

Publishers commonly distribute digital ARCs using NetGalley, since it’s well known and often used by people inside the industry—but it’s not necessary to use a formal service to effectively distribute ARCs. It’s fairly straightforward to use file-sharing services like Dropbox or Google Drive if you’re sending the ARC selectively and to trusted sources.

You can also create print ARCs through a print-on-demand provider like IngramSpark or a short-run printer, but you should be careful to only send them to people you feel confident would seriously consider them and represent strong prospects for the book’s marketing and publicity.

Here’s how to ensure that your ARC, print or digital, is hitting all the right points.
On the front and/or back cover: Add the words: “Advance Uncorrected Proof / Not for Sale.”

On the back cover: This is the most important part, because it shouldn’t be a standard back cover. While you want a brief description of the book (100-150 words) and a brief author bio, at least half of the back cover should have information on the book’s marketing and promotion plan, including:

• Marketing campaign: In a bulleted list, detail how the book will be marketed and promoted, both to the industry and to readers.
• Publication information: List all the details related to publication, including formats and price points, trim size, page count, ISBN numbers, and category.
• Publicity contact: Whoever is the primary contact for media should be listed, along with their phone number and email.
• Ordering information: Make it clear where and how the book will be available for sale, and especially if direct orders are possible.
• Website: Don’t forget to include the publisher or author website.

On the cover or interior: Clarify, once again, that because the book is an uncorrected proof, reviewers should check all quotations against the final release.

You might wonder: If you’re using primarily a digital ARC, how do you include a “back cover” exactly? You could still include a page with the same information, but simply put it upfront, right after the cover, or you can include it as part of a covering letter or email.

Remember: an ARC is primarily a marketing tool. Always label it as an ARC, and be sure to include prominent marketing and promotional copy that helps persuade recipients that the book is professional and well-situated to succeed.

This article first appeared on IngramSpark’s blog.

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Testing Credit-Card Numbers In E-Commerce Checkouts (Cheat Sheet)

As a developer, I work a lot with e-commerce websites and, as a result, with a lot of payment gateways. I’m fortunate that I get to work on many different projects for different clients, each with its own unique challenges. I have, therefore, found myself working with a lot of different payment gateways over the years, from the more familiar ones like PayPal and Stripe to some lesser known ones.

While I love the variety of my work, I generally find working with payment gateways to be frustrating. I’m sure I’m not alone in this opinion! For many payment gateways, the documentation is poorly written, lengthy and, at times, difficult to find.

Thankfully, libraries such as OmniPay1 have helped me a lot and bring some consistency to working with the different services. However, while these libraries remove some of the need to check documentation, testing often still requires me to dig it up.

Testing is a crucial part of the development process, from initially setting up a payment system to the continual testing of a checkout process. For each stage, we need to work with test payment cards to run our code through the hoops and ensure the interface works well. I doubt any of us are paid well enough to happily reach for our wallet and put through a genuine payment with our own credit card! So, we look for the test payment card details relevant to the gateway we’re working with.

Even if we’ve already found the appropriate documentation at the beginning of development, what about a month or two later when we need to retest something? How about a year later, when everything has moved around on the official website of the payment gateway? Documentation easily gets misplaced, and we find ourselves hunting around for it. Even once we have our hands on it, locating the test details can be a challenge. Some gateways seem to love providing multiple PDF files, all mysteriously titled, with the test card details buried deep within one of them.

I have been increasingly finding myself in this situation. Moreover, developers aren’t the only ones who need these details in the course of a project. There are project managers, QA testers and the clients themselves. I was getting fed up with searching for card numbers. So, earlier this year, I decided to do something about it.

Back in April, I set up a new repository on GitHub and started compiling a list of all of the payment gateways I’ve used over the years and the test card numbers available for each of them. The idea was simply to create a single accessible resource of card numbers and other relevant details required to put test payments through.

I chose to host the list2 — or cheatsheet, if you will — on GitHub so that it could easily be maintained and updated. By making it a repository, others can quickly fork and contribute to it themselves, adding other payment gateways to the ones already represented. I released the cheatsheet under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license to encourage people to share and adapt the list.

So, here are the test card numbers for some of the major payment gateways and a few lesser known ones.

One of the largest online payment companies, PayPal is a popular choice with clients for its recognizable brand (even if it is less popular with those who have to implement it). The following test cards are available in PayPal sandbox mode and can be used with any card expiry date set in the future.

Card type Card number(s)
American Express 378282246310005 and 371449635398431
American Express Corporate 378734493671000
BankCard (Australia) 5610591081018250
Diners Club 30569309025904 and 38520000023237
Discover 6011111111111117 and 6011000990139424
JCB 3530111333300000 and 3566002020360505
MasterCard 5555555555554444 and 5105105105105100
Visa 4111111111111111, 4012888888881881 and 4222222222222

Stripe is a much younger (and, may I say, trendier?) payment company than PayPal. It has quickly proven to be popular with developers, thanks to its simplicity of implementation and solid documentation, which is always a plus.

All of the following card numbers will produce successful transactions in test mode using any future expiry date.

Card type Card number
American Express 378282246310005 and 371449635398431
Diners Club 30569309025904 and 38520000023237
Discover 6011111111111117 and 6011000990139424
JCB 3530111333300000 and 3566002020360505
MasterCard 5555555555554444
MasterCard (debit) 5200828282828210
MasterCard (prepaid) 5105105105105100
Visa 4242424242424242 and 4012888888881881
Visa (debit) 4000056655665556

Full details of Stripe’s test cards can be found on the “Testing3” page of its documentation.

Authorize.Net Link

Like PayPal, Authorize.Net has been around for a while. The following test credit-card numbers will only work in the sandbox. If the card’s CVV2 code is required, use any three-digit combination, except for American Express, which requires a four-digit combination. See the “Testing Guide4” for further details.

Card type Card number(s)
American Express 370000000000002
Diners Club (Carte Blanche) 38000000000006
Discover 6011000000000012
JCB 3088000000000017
MasterCard 5424000000000015
Visa 4007000000027, 4012888818888 and 4111111111111111

SagePay is a popular British payment gateway. A lot of card numbers are available for testing that result in various 3DSecure statuses. All of SagePay’s test cards use the address “88” and postcode “412.”

Card type Card number Issue CVV2 3DS
American Express 374200000000004 Example 3 1234 N/A
Diners Club 36000000000008 Example 3 123 N/A
JCB 3569990000000009 Example 3 123 N/A
Laser 6304990000000000044 Example 3 123 N/A
Maestro (UK) 5641820000000005 and 6759000000005 01 123 Y
Maestro (Germany) 6705000000008 01 123 Y
Maestro (Ireland) 6777000000007 01 123 Y
Maestro (Spain) 6766000000000 01 123 Y
Maestro (international) 300000000000000004 Example 3 123 Y
MasterCard (credit) 5404000000000001 Example 3 123 Y
MasterCard (credit) 5404000000000043 Example 3 123 N
MasterCard (credit) 5404000000000084 Example 3 123 U
MasterCard (credit) 5404000000000068 Example 3 123 E
MasterCard (debit) 5573470000000001 Example 3 123 Y
Visa 4929000000006 Example 3 123 Y
Visa 4929000005559 Example 3 123 N
Visa 4929000000014 Example 3 123 U
Visa 4929000000022 Example 3 123 E
Visa Corporate 4484000000002 Example 3 123 N
Visa (debit and Delta) 4462000000000003 Example 3 123 Y
Visa Electron 4917300000000008 Example 3 123 Y

The 3DSecure (3DS) responses are:

  • Y
    Enrolled and will progress to the password page to complete verification
  • N
    Not enrolled and will return a 3DSecureStatus=NOTAVAILABLE to your system
  • U
    Unable to verify enrolment and will return a 3DSecureStatus=NOTAVAILABLE to your system
  • E
    Error occurred during 3D Secure verification, and a 3DSecureStatus=ERROR will be returned to your system

Full details can be found on the “Test Card Details for Your Test Transactions5” page.

Braintree Link

The following card numbers will not trigger errors.

Card type Card number(s)
American Express 378282246310005 and 371449635398431
Discover 6011111111111117
JCB 3530111333300000
Maestro 6304000000000000
Mastercard 5555555555554444
Visa 4111111111111111, 4005519200000004, 4009348888881881, 4012000033330026, 4012000077777777, 4012888888881881, 4217651111111119 and 4500600000000061

To trigger an unsuccessful credit-card verification, use one of the following cards:

Card type Card number(s) Verification response
American Express 378734493671000 Processor declined
Discover 6011000990139424 Processor declined
Mastercard 5105105105105100 Processor declined
Visa 4000111111111115 Processor declined
JCB 3566002020360505 Failed (3000)

Further details about using Braintree’s test payment numbers can be found on its “Testing6” page.

Card type Card number
Visa 4111111111111111

Details about using test cards in Ogone can be found in “Create and Configure Your Ogone Test Account7.”

Card type Card number 3DS Successful authorization
American Express 9905000000005139 Y Y
American Express 9905000000000015 N Y
American Express 9905000000010253 U Y
American Express 9905000000005287 Y N
American Express 9905000000000163 N N
American Express 9905000000010402 U N
Mastercard (debit) 9900000000005159 Y Y
Mastercard (debit) 9900000000000010 N Y
Mastercard (debit) 9900000000010258 U Y
Mastercard (debit) 9900000000005282 Y N
Mastercard (debit) 9900000000000168 N N
Mastercard (debit) 9900000000010407 U N
Mastercard (credit) 9901000000005133 Y Y
Mastercard (credit) 9901000000000019 N Y
Mastercard (credit) 9901000000010257 U Y
Mastercard (credit) 9901000000005281 Y Y
Mastercard (credit) 9901000000000167 N Y
Mastercard (credit) 9901000000010406 U Y
Visa (debit) 9902000000005132 Y Y
Visa (debit) 9902000000000018 N Y
Visa (debit) 9902000000010256 U Y
Visa (debit) 9902000000005280 Y N
Visa (debit) 9902000000000166 N N
Visa (debit) 9902000000010405 U N
Visa (credit) 9903000000005131 Y Y
Visa (credit) 9903000000000017 N Y
Visa (credit) 9903000000010255 U Y
Visa (credit) 9903000000005289 Y N
Visa (credit) 9903000000000165 N N
Visa (credit) 9903000000010404 U N

The test card details above can be found on Pay360’s “Test Cards8” page.

PayPoint Link

Card type Card number(s)
Maestro 491182014295916748
Mastercard (credit) 5555555555554444 and 5105105105105100
Visa 4444333322221111 and 4444444444441111
Card Number Expiration CVV2 CIP code
4548812049400004 12/20 123 123456

Full details of WePay’s test cards can be found on the “Testing9” page of its documentation.

Card type Card number CVV2
American Express 378282246310005 and 371449635398431 Any
MasterCard 5496198584584769 Any
Visa 4003830171874018 Any

WorldPay Link

WorldPay test cards do not have a verification code or issue number.

Card type Card number(s)
AirPlus 122000000000003
American Express 34343434343434
Carte Bleue 5555555555554444
Dankort 5019717010103742
Diners Club 36700102000000 and 36148900647913
Discover 6011000400000000
JCB 3528000700000000
Laser 630495060000000000 and 630490017740292441
Maestro 6759649826438453 and 67999990100000000019
MasterCard 5555555555554444 and 5454545454545454
Visa 4444333322221111, 4911830000000 and 4917610000000000
Visa (debit) 4462030000000000 and 4917610000000000003
Visa Electron (UK only) 4917300800000000
Visa (purchasing) 4484070000000000

Other Resources Link

If you’re building a website that will take payment details to be passed to the relevant payment gateway, doing some local validation before attempting to process the payment can be useful. This will improve the user experience and speed things up a little. Credit-card numbers can be checked using the Luhn algorithm10, and many libraries out there will help you do this. The following JavaScript plugins all provide a simple way to integrate this validation and avoid issues with PCI compliance, because the card details don’t have to be sent to your server to be tested.

Most payment gateways use test card numbers that can be checked using the Luhn algorithm; so, you shouldn’t have any issue validating during testing.

Final Words Link

Hopefully, the test card numbers presented here will be of use to you. If a payment gateway that you use is missing, feel free to contribute it to the original cheatsheet repository14.

Happy testing!

(vf, il, al)

  1. 1 http://ift.tt/1EcCAtk
  2. 2 http://ift.tt/2anZ7QG
  3. 3 http://ift.tt/KU118g
  4. 4 http://ift.tt/1GZwRZ6
  5. 5 http://ift.tt/1jUfKOl
  6. 6 http://ift.tt/2anYWox
  7. 7 http://ift.tt/1Y7t0ks
  8. 8 http://ift.tt/2anZdYN
  9. 9 http://ift.tt/2apFTak
  10. 10 http://ift.tt/1381WfA
  11. 11 http://ift.tt/1nMu1vR
  12. 12 http://ift.tt/1ti6Sw5
  13. 13 http://ift.tt/11R4ETD
  14. 14 http://ift.tt/2anZ7QG

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