Top Tech Stories of 2013: The PR Perspective


top tech PR stories 2013

Many organizations put out PR fires in 2013.

As with most years, 2013 had a lot of big technology stories. Microsoft bought Nokia and announced plans to soon have a new CEO.

 Apple had its most significant update to its aging iOS, though it could be argued if it’s truly a significant update (that’s another story). Twitter went public and Bitcoin became as mainstream as it’s ever been. Google had barges and Blackberry kept spiraling downward. Dell also went private. Probably the two stories that dominated in terms of longevity were the government security leaks and privacy concerns. There were many other stories, of course. But, to try and keep this short, let’s consider the PR grades for the above stories. Grades are an A for being all positive for the organization, to an F for being all negative.

Microsoft Munchies
Microsoft made two very big moves this year, arguably amongst its biggest in years. It acquired Nokia to dive deeper into its commitment to a mobile operating system. Perhaps it’s working but, it has a long way to go. Still, news of this buy made big waves for the company. There was probably only one other announcement made from Microsoft that outdid the Nokia buy and that was Ballmer announcing his retirement. However, this is dragging out quite a bit and rumors continue to surface about who’s in line to be successor. Perhaps it’s part of the plan to keep Microsoft top of mind in the news for as long as possible. But, I doubt it. More than anything it casts negative anticipation because, in general, a majority of people want to see the company move on already.

Apple’s iOS Announcement
Apple finally made a “significant” update to iOS with version 7. However, it can be easily argued how significant it really is. Some even argue it’s a step back. But, Apple proved again in 2013 that what it announces – in large part – the media covers with a general positive slant. It’s just that iOS 7 should have changed the game again and it didn’t. It’s left plenty of room for the competition to out-innovate Apple. It might even be that 2013 was a year when Apple lost the most reputation in being innovative. Apple announced a lot of new gear in 2013 that people bought in droves. But, none of it – iOS 7 included – helped clearly demonstrate Apple to be an innovator like years past.

Twitter’s Treasure
Twitter went public and everyone watching couldn’t help but compare the IPO to Facebook’s. The stock then also soared. With this success, it appears Twitter will get the finances it needs to grow. And, it better hurry up because 2013 might have also proved its growth is seriously slowing. Whether you’re an investor or not, you probably know how Wall Street hates slow growth. Twitter may have had a good year with its IPO but, it will now be under its greatest pressure to keep growing.

Bitcoin Bonanza
Bitcoin went mainstream really quick in 2013 and proved it has a chance for success. The problem is, the digital currency might have also proven it has an ever greater chance at failure. Still, Bitcoin dominated a lot of news cycles with positive and negative publicity. For Bitcoin to succeed in 2014, it’ll have to cut out the negatives almost entirely. It cannot succeed with a balance of positive and negative publicity. It must sway to be almost always good.

Google’s Barges Galore
Google demonstrated odd ways of getting in the news, whether intended or not, and the barges certainly made the list of oddities. The thing is stories about car wrecks and barges do little to distinguish the brand in a positive light. Perhaps Google will learn from these odd ball incidents. Its grade is for this particular lingering story and not for its entire year. Google, overall, had a great year of PR that it can easily ride into 2014.

Blackberry Bruises
Blackberry’s troubles continued to be highlighted in the news in 2013. This company has had one heck of a fall from grace. I’m no market or financial industry expert but, it appears to be over for this one. It came out with a new product and operating system that was supposed to put them back in the game. It didn’t. If the innovation isn’t there, successful PR cannot follow. It’s trying to hang on but, it’s not looking pretty.

Dell Delists
Dell was also in the news with its own fall from grace. The company delisted and went private. Still, compared to Blackberry, the fall from grace doesn’t appear as damaging. Dell still has many products and it appears the PC market will do better in 2014. But, innovation is a must for this dinosaur roaming in a land of many me-too product makers.

Government Go-Getters
F- (Summer school required)
Probably the most negative tech story that dominated the entire year with bad headline after bad headline was the NSA. Polls aren’t helping it either. All the stories of snooping on people, governments and officials makes one wonder if this monster has a head. The NSA’s publicity nightmares are only made worse because it is part of a government that isn’t very popular. Congress has historically low popularity ratings. The executive branch is suffering its own PR problems with a healthcare policy implementation that had holes. And, despite signs of a growing economy, it’s still not where most people wish it to be. While the NSA has little to do with these other elements, it’s like guilt by association. Since the NSA has its own big problems and is part of a government that has its own big problems too, people tend to pile it on more. The bad thing is 2014 could actually get worse for NSA as it doesn’t appear to be attempting any PR efforts to reconcile matters.