Apple Trashes a News Release

Mossberg, Swisher, Cook (Photo: Asa Mathat D: AllThings Digital)

One has to appreciate the chutzpah of Donald Leka, chairman and CEO of Transmedia, maker of the Glide OS app that allows individuals to fluidly access their files no matter what mobile or desktop operating system they reside on. The company this week released its first app for the iPhone. (More on that in a moment.)

Maybe it’s Mr. Leka’s Long Island lineage, but over lunch at Balthazar a few months back, he told me how he once maneuvered his way into the office of the dean of all tech media, Walt Mossberg, for a demo of his agnostic platform. Nervously, he started to show his wares. Mr. Mossberg gave him ten minutes, after which he gave him another ten minutes, and then another, and so on and so forth.

That impromptu and fortuitous meetup led to Mr. Leka’s onstage appearance at AllThingsD’s vaunted D6 Conference where he chatted up Mossberg and his equally erudite collaborator Kara Swisher. To give you some perspective, at this week’s D11 Conference, Mr. Leka was supplanted by the likes of Tim Cook, Dick Costolo, Elon Musk, Barry Diller, John Chambers, Sheryl Sandberg, and too many other tech luminaries to shake a memory stick at.

Here’s how Mr. Leka performed five years ago:


Flash drive forward to this week’s launch of the Glide OS app for iPhone. At the D11 conference, former BusinessWeek technology columnist Steve Wildstrom asked Tim Cook about whether “it was time for Apple to broaden its iCloud service to facilitate sharing for customers who are likely to own both Apple and non-Apple gear.” Writing for Tech-Pinions, Wildstrom said:

“Cook didn’t bite. But Donald Leka…jumped in. In a press release announcing the release of a new Glide iPhone app that provides access to Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive, and Google Drive accounts, Glide said: ‘Consumers really don’t care that much what platform they are on, where their files are stored, or what the file types and file formats are,’ said TransMedia Chairman and CEO, Donald Leka. ‘They simply want to be able to easily access and share a family photo, a letter to a friend, a favorite song or show.'”

Now here’s where it gets interesting, at least for those handling PR chores for a new or soon-to-launch iOS app. Mr. Leka crafted a news release for his new app that succeeded in raising a few hackles in Cupertino. Wildstrom noted:

“This drew an email response from Tyler Stone of Apple Worldwide Developer Relations (shared with me by Leka): …We believe the best press releases for a product launch concentrate on that product. Your release is ostensibly for the launch of your iPhone app, but the copy actually references other apps on other platforms more often than it mentions the one being launched.”

Huh? I know Apple is controlling, but to chastise the maker of a just-approved app for the language in its press release may be taking it a bit too far. But the Apple developer relations guy took it even further:

“And that brings me to my final point: the tone of your release and your product positioning is at odds with not just our primary marketing messaging, but the entire reason Apple exists… I’d encourage you to recast your messaging in this positive, affirmative way.”

Apple’s full explanation here, but I gotta hand it to Mr. Leka who pounced on Apple’s answer to Wildstrom’s most beneficial question. One piece of advice: Donald, when you send out a news release or any PR pitch to elicit media coverage, try not to include the names of all the reporters (me, among them) in the “To” section.

 Best of luck with Glide.