A lesson from Apple writers on how to write, and not write, depending on the audience


Here is a great lesson from the masters of the marketing universe at Apple Inc. on the nuanced science of tailoring your message to different audiences. It’s an easy lesson because all you have to do is read how they wrote two paragraphs.

Both two-sentence paragraphs appeared on Apple’s website for the first time today and both describe the exact same new feature that is a part of the upgrade version of Apple’s web browser, Safari 5.

This first paragraph was written by a PR person, or, more likely, a team of PR people, and appears in this press release. As you can easily tell, it was written with great care to avoid saying what the feature actually does:

“Safari Reader makes it easy to read single and multipage articles on the web by presenting them in a new, scrollable view without any additional content or clutter. When Safari 5 detects an article, users can click on the Reader icon in the Smart Address Field to display the entire article for clear, uninterrupted reading with options to enlarge, print or send via email.”

The second paragraph, appearing of the Safari 5 What’s New page was written by someone who knows Apple is locked in a browser war with Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, and the stakes in this war are worth billions of dollars. In other words, this copy isn’t fluff: it’s copy designed to translate the feature into something so compelling that the potential user reading it can’t wait to download it:

“Safari Reader removes annoying ads and other visual distractions from online articles. So you get the whole story and nothing but the story.”

You may wonder why PR people can’t write like that.

Here’s the reason: Also this morning, the PR people had to issue this press release telling the world how much advertisers are loving Apple’s new mobile advertising platform that will be released on July, 1:

“Apple has iAd commitments for 2010 totaling over $60 million, which represents almost 50 percent of the total forecasted US mobile ad spending for the second half of 2010.*

Bottomline: PR people can’t be bragging in one press release how Apple is charging advertisers tens of millions of dollars to help them get annoying ads and visual distractions in front of people who use Apple products, and then in the next press release, be bragging how they’re helping Apple product users “remove annoying ads and other visual distractions.”