Former Apple Marketing Insider Sheds Light on Apple's 'Controlled Leaks'

Former Apple Senior Marketing Manager John Martellaro today penned an interesting piece describing the company's strategy for issuing controlled leaks, pointing to Monday's Wall Street Journal article on Apple's tablet device as a likely instance of such an information release.

Martellaro notes that Apple engages in the practice of controlled leaks for a number of reasons, including motivational, market research, competitive, and hype-building concerns. Controlled leaks, which are always conducted in person or over the phone in order to leave no paper trail, also serve as a prime way for Apple to disseminate information while still appearing to maintain its veil of secrecy about unreleased products.

I know, because when I was a Senior Marketing Manager at Apple, I was instructed to do some controlled leaks.

The way it works is that a senior exec will come in and say, "We need to release this specific information. John, do you have a trusted friend at a major outlet? If so, call him/her and have a conversation. Idly mention this information and suggest that if it were published, that would be nice. No e-mails!"

Also noted is that fact that the Wall Street Journal report was credited to two authors, Yukari Kane and Geoffrey Fowler, which introduces some ambiguity into who is responsible for the report and provides a convenient means of plausible deniability. Walt Mossberg, the Wall Street Journal's highest-profile technology writer, was also not involved in the story in order to preserve his leadership status and clean image rather than subjecting his reputation to the risks of such strategies.