How Apple's CMS Ruined its Product Launch


On Wednesday, September 12, 2018, Apple unveiled the next generation iPhone during a live presentation at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California. Unfortunately, after months of build-up the presentation was a bore. Why?

An Apple employee had accidentally published most of the information to the Apple site just hours earlier, letting the proverbial cat out of the bag. Instead of breaking news, Apple was repeating itself and lost control of the narrative around their new lineup.

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There are many reasons why content could get published early, such as human error or a poorly designed workflow, but usually the culprit is an antiquated CMS. As the makers of Brightspot CMS, we recognize many well-known CMS platforms are not actually designed for the modern content distribution era. If they were, a staffer would have never been able to ruin months of build-up with the click of a single publish button.

Brightspot, on the other hand, was designed to serve the needs of companies that are regularly producing content for immediate and scheduled distribution. We have incorporated feedback from our customers (such as Johnson & Johnson, Walmart and U.S. News & World Report to name drop a few) to create a flexible CMS that serves the needs of large corporations. The result is a robust platform that has many features other platforms don't offer, or are too difficult for their editorial teams to use. In this case, if Apple was using Brightspot it would have had several options to prevent accidental publication.

Here are four potential options Apple could have employed using Brightspot to better control release of time-sensitive, confidential information:

Option 1: Create a "Fall Launch Event" in the CMS

In Brightspot, users/admins can create "an event", set the date/time of the event, and then require content for the event be developed within. Everything created within that event would not publish until the event occurs. For Apple, it could have created "Fall Launch Event" and scheduled it for September 12, 2018 at 3pm PT. From there, every press release, quote, and image would have been published exactly when the presentation ended with absolutely no risk of publishing anything early.

Schedule Event Video

Option 2: Embargo the Content

Brightspot makes it easy for publishers to schedule/embargo individual pieces of content until a specific time. Another option for Apple would have been to require all the content related to the Fall Launch to be embargoed indefinitely, or until a pre-defined time. This approach would have allowed a rolling release of content, published as soon as Apple announced a new product—such as publishing the Apple Watch press release after the new version was presented. By embargoing or scheduling these types of publications, Apple would have prevented premature publication.

Embargo Content

Option 3: Leverage Brightspot's Dynamic Workflow

A third option for Apple would have been to add a step in the publishing workflow that would have required an additional review prior to publication. It's unlikely Mr. Cook would need to press the publish button, but a senior executive could have taken control of the Apple website for a defined period of time to ensure nothing was published early. Because workflows are so easy to set-up and adjust in Brightspot, this can be undone as soon as the event is over, returning the site to normal publication procedures.

Workflow Oversight

Option 4: Create a Custom Content Type or Template

If Apple had Brightspot, they could have created a custom content type with a specific workflow that would only used for product announcements. This content type would have a more rigorous approval process than others and all content created for these events would have to adhere to this content type. This too would have prevented the early news release.

Brightspot empowers non-technical editorial teams to take control of the publishing process. All of the options outlined above can be done without IT involvement. Instead, IT can focus on managing the impending traffic spike from the product launches, while editorial can focus on creating and publishing content (at just the right time).

If you are interested in learning more about how Brightspot empowers editorial teams, frees IT from nuisance requests, and makes the publishing process fun again request a demo today!

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