How Apple's CMS flubbed a product launch

This image shows a closeup of a crowd of people expressing frustration by cringing and putting their hands on their heads in dismay.

On Sept. 12, 2018, Apple unveiled an updated iPhone during a live presentation at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, Calif. Unfortunately, after months of buildup, the presentation was a bit of a letdown. Why?

An Apple employee had accidentally published product details on the Apple sitemap just hours earlier, letting the proverbial cat out of the bag. Instead of breaking news, Apple repeated itself.

Preventing Leaks With Agile Publishing Tools

There are many reasons content could get published early, such as human error or a poorly designed workflow, but the culprit is often an antiquated CMS. 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 make that kind of mistake 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.

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

Option 1: Create an Event in the CMS

In Brightspot, for example, users/admins can create an event and set a date and time for it. All the content created within that event would not publish until the event occurs. So, Apple could have created a "Fall Launch Event" and scheduled it for Sept. 12, 2018, at 3 p.m. PT. In that case, every press release, quote and image would have been published exactly when the presentation ended, with absolutely no risk of publishing early.

Option 2: Embargo the Content

Brightspot makes it easy for publishers to schedule or embargo individual pieces of content. Apple could have required all content related to the fall launch to be embargoed indefinitely or until a predefined time. This approach would have allowed a rolling release of content, published as soon as Apple announced the new product. By embargoing or scheduling exclusive content, Apple could have prevented premature publication.

Option 3: Leverage a Dynamic Workflow

Apple also could have added an additional review step into the publishing workflow. 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.

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Option 4: Create a Custom Content Type or Template

If Apple had Brightspot, the company could have created a custom content type with a specific workflow to be used only for product announcements. This content type could have a more rigorous approval process than others, thus preventing the early release.


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