Wednesday, January 5, 2011

IPhone’s PR Glitch: Is there an App for Good PR?

If we’ve preached it once, we’ve preached it a thousand times. No company is immune to crisis. All companies, large and small, should have a solid crisis communications plan. Why are we reiterating this? Well, take a look at Apple in recent days. Web reports say that their techno trophy—the iPhone—has been experiencing an application glitch since New Year’s Day. The alarm feature has not being going off properly, which according to Yahoo News, has left users “fuming” (and likely late to meetings, flights, etc.). According to, three NBA stars were “victims” of the glitch, causing one player to completely miss a practice and two others to be late.

What a way to start the new year. Way back in November of 2010, CNN reported that Apple told its customers to manually adjust their alarm clocks for Daylight Saving Time, because the alarm app did not automatically do this. Was this the cause of the problem? Who knows? Answering tech questions is beyond our expertise, but we can speak to the PR problem that has resulted from the glitch.

Here’s the thing. The application glitch itself is not what causing the Apple’s PR problem—it’s reportedly the way Apple is handling the problem. reported that thousands of users took to social media outlets to rant and rave about their dissatisfaction with the product. Users who missed meetings and appointments due to the problem made Twitter and Facebook their sounding board because they felt that Apple was not listening to them.

Apple apparently did not offer an explanation for New Year’s alarm problem, but told customers the phone would be fixed by that Monday. Offering as much information as possible within legal and corporate guidelines is imperative to customer satisfaction in a situation like this. Communication with the customer is essential—especially if communication tools are one of the products your business sells. Apple will do well to learn from this mistake and create a hotline or special service line for customers who experience application glitches in the future. After all, the iPhone is supposed to have you talking, but not like this.