Tag Archives: Company Coverage
by Chris Roush
Richard Dukas, who runs a public relations firm in New York, wrote earlier this week here on Talking Biz News about how business journalists can get the most out of their relationships with PR people. His piece has got some great advice.
Dukas advised that business journalists should avoid having an adversarial relationship with PR people if they want to get the most out of them. Treating them with respect, he wrote, is often reciprocated. In theory, that’s a nice, warm feeling to have.
In reality, I say bunk.
An adversarial relationship means that you, the business journalist, are often pushing the company into telling you things that they don’t want to divulge. That’s a good business journalist.
In addition, an adversarial relationship is often required because of mistreatment by PR.
Let me give you a few examples from my career as a business journalist where I believe an adversarial relationship was warranted.
In the 1990s, I covered a large beverage company based in Atlanta for both the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and then Bloomberg News.
One time I proposed a story to the PR people at the company examining its sports marketing strategy. The PR people thought it was a great idea and said they would get back to me to set up some interviews. A week went by, and I heard nothing. So I called again, and I was assured they were working on setting up some interviews.
After another week, the silence got to me. In a phone conversation with a source at the company, I discovered that the PR people had taken my sports marketing strategy story pitch and given it to a reporter who also covered the company at a national newspaper. I was told by my source that a story was likely to appear the next day in that national newspaper.
I was livid, but I did not call the company that day. Instead, I worked as hard as I could to report and write my own story for tomorrow’s paper so it would not seem to my bosses that I had been scooped on my beat.
The next day, however, was extremely adversarial. I rarely, if ever, yell at someone. But two PR people at the company felt my wrath that day. How could I trust or work with them in the future? The situation demanded that I be adversarial, especially after they admitted what they had done.
This was not the only time where a confrontational attitude was warranted toward the PR people at this company. Later, while at Bloomberg, I had requested interviews with the company’s new leadership team. I was promised I would get my interviews. Yet, I saw the company drag its feet in dealing with me so that the executives could speak to The Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine.
I complained multiple times to a vice president who oversaw corporate communications, which resulted in a verbal confrontation in front of other employees at the company because I felt as if Bloomberg was not being given the respect it deserved.
I encountered another situation at Bloomberg when I wrote a story about a Charlotte-based company being a likely takeover candidate. The company’s stock price was moving abnormally higher, and after making some calls, an analyst who covered the company told me that he thought the business was an M&A target and that was what was causing the higher stock price.
The analyst was quoted in my story. Before I published, I also called the company and was told that its PR person was out of the office and no one else was available to comment. I emphasized to several people at the company the importance of the story and the need for it to respond to what the analyst said. Still, no one returned my calls.
The next day, after the story ran, the PR person left a nasty voice mail for me, questioning my journalistic integrity and why I felt the need to write such a story. I replied back with my own voice mail explaining to him that my story was based on what sources had told me. The conversation degenerated from there into name calling on both sides.
Such an adversarial relationship continues from time to time here at Talking Biz News. For the past 18 months, a business news organization has not talked to me after a blog item ran that was based on original reporting of its market share. They wanted me to run the blog post by them before I posted it. They also accused me of getting the data from their competitor. After they gave me the cold shoulder, I proceeded to spend the next six months posting identical blog items about its market share, updated with the latest data — which I emphasized in the blog posts came from neither the company nor its competitor to prove my point.
That adversarial relationship continues today with this business news organization, which I find ironic. I think my reporting of that business news organization is better because of it. I don’t have to worry about the PR people calling me and trying to spin the message.
I’m not here to say that an adversarial relationship between business journalists and public relations professionals is the preferred mode of operation. I would much rather prefer to work with PR people in a professional manner, and 99 percent of my relationships with PR people have been just that.
But when an adversarial relationship is needed, I find it to be a necessary tool in the business journalist’s arsenal. I would expect the same from PR people if they too felt abused.
by Liz Hester
Four years after the government injected billions of dollars into American International Group Inc. as it teetered on the brink of bankruptcy and was deemed too intertwined with the financial system to fail, it’s all over. The U.S. Treasury said Tuesday is was selling the last of its holdings for a profit.
Here are a few details from the Wall Street Journal:
The Treasury Department said it would generate $7.6 billion in proceeds from its sale of American International Group Inc. shares, as it sells nearly all its remaining holdings in the insurer it helped rescue at the height of the financial crisis.
The government said Tuesday it would sell about 234 million common shares at $32.50 each, matching the price it got when it sold an even larger slug of shares in September. AIG’s stock closed Monday at $33.36, and jumped 1.6% to $33.90 in heavy pre-market trading Tuesday.
The transaction is expected to close on Friday. By Treasury’s calculation, the final round of sales means the government will have a net positive return on its AIG bailout of $22.7 billion.
This step in AIG’s turnaround, which essentially closes the book on one of the most controversial bailouts of the financial crisis, seemed nearly unattainable in 2008, when the insurer’s imminent collapse sent shockwaves through the global economy. At the time, U.S. officials cobbled together a rescue package for AIG that effectively nationalized the insurer, arguing that AIG needed to survive to prevent a financial apocalypse.
And overall, the deal has been much better than expected according to this account from the New York Times:
With the latest sale, taxpayers have gained about $22.7 billion from a bailout that many predicted would prompt a staggering loss. In an effort to stabilize the global banking system, the government rescued A.I.G. just days after the failure of Lehman Brothers.
The stock sale also means that A.I.G. is a fully private enterprise once more, after the government owned as much as 92 percent of its shares. After the sale, the Treasury Department will hold only warrants to buy about 2.7 million shares of A.I.G. common stock, which will also be sold to generate a profit.
“On behalf of the 62,000 employees of A.I.G., it is my honor and privilege to thank America for giving us the opportunity to keep our promise to make America whole on its investment in A.I.G. plus a substantial profit,” Robert H. Benmosche, the insurer’s chief executive, said in a statement. “Thank you America. Let’s bring on tomorrow.”
Bloomberg wrote a piece about larger-than-life CEO Robert Benmosche and his strategy for the company. Excerpts follow:
“We are not at the finish line,” Benmosche, 68, wrote yesterday in a memo to employees of the New York-based firm after the U.S. said it would record a $22.7 billion profit on the $182.3 billion rescue. “We have to exceed the expectations of our clients, our investors, our regulators, and our other stakeholders around the world.”
Benmosche, who took over in 2009, is cutting costs and seeking to restore the reputation of a firm tarnished by its near collapse. After selling non-U.S. life insurance operations, the company is increasingly reliant on property-casualty coverage at the unit previously known as Chartis, a business that has reported an underwriting loss for four straight years.
AIG is “investing a lot of its energy in trying to execute a turnaround in Chartis,” said Josh Stirling, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. “When this starts to work, earnings are going to start to recover.”
AIG is seeking an underwriting profit of 5 to 10 cents on every dollar of premiums it collects for property-casualty coverage by the end of 2015, according to goals it laid out in a regulatory filing last year. Stirling said the company can get there by cutting expenses, raising prices for coverage, and doing a better job of evaluating risk and handling claims.
And I just love the Reuters story for putting the whole situation into context:
The sale will close the chapter on one of the most politically contentious government rescues of the global financial crisis and turn a profit for taxpayers, which was once thought to be inconceivable.
At one point, the government estimated that it would never recover all of the bailout money, but as AIG restructured and returned to viability, it was able to repay the entire rescue fund plus generate a profit for U.S. taxpayers.
“No taxpayer should be pleased that the government had to rescue this company, but all taxpayers should be pleased with today’s announcement, ending the largest of the government’s financial industry bail-outs with a profit to the Treasury Department,” Jim Millstein, the Treasury’s former chief restructuring officer, said in a statement.
AIG was rescued just before it would have been forced to file for bankruptcy protection in September 2008 as losses on risky derivatives mounted. It was bailed out as the world’s financial system stood at the brink of disaster, shortly after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch sold itself to Bank of America Corp (BAC.N).
AIG was one of the Treasury Department’s most hotly contested bailouts. U.S. lawmakers began calling for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s resignation after it was revealed that AIG paid $165 million in retention bonuses to employees of the derivatives unit that has been blamed for the company’s financial distress at that time.
No matter what you think of the bonuses, the bailout or the financial crisis, this is good news – exiting a bailout with an unexpected profit. Now that’s reason to celebrate.
by Liz Hester
Bank fines reached a new height yesterday. HSBC Holdings Plc is reportedly planning to settle money-laundering charges for $1.9 billion. Here’s are a few of the details from Bloomberg:
HSBC (HSBA) Holdings Plc will pay at least $1.9 billion in a deferred prosecution agreement that settles U.S. probes of money laundering tied to Europe’s largest bank, a person familiar with the matter said, making it the largest such accord ever.
HSBC, whose top executives were accused of lax oversight by a U.S. Senate subcommittee in July, will forfeit $1.25 billion, the biggest forfeiture ever by a bank, said another person familiar with the matter. It will also pay an addition $665 million in civil penalties, the person said.
In a deferred prosecution agreement, the government allows a target to avoid charges by meeting certain conditions — including the payment of fines or penalties — and by committing to specific reforms, either under the guidance of a monitor, or the creation of an internal compliance panel. The HSBC agreement is set to be announced today, said the people, both of whom asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public.
Yesterday, Standard Chartered Plc (STAN), Britain’s second-largest bank by market value, agreed to pay $327 million in fines after regulators alleged it violated U.S. sanctions with Iran. The two banks have been the target of investigations by several U.S. regulators. The Department of Justice, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, New York state regulators and the Manhattan District Attorney have all probed HSBC, Standard Chartered, or both.
Here’s the reason for the fines, according to the New York Times:
The settlement with HSBC stems from accusations that the British banking giant transferred billions of dollars on behalf of sanctioned nations like Iran and enabled Mexican drug cartels to launder money through the American financial system, according to officials briefed on the matter. The deal, which will force the bank to forfeit more than $1.2 billion and pay additional penalties, is the largest to emerge from an investigation that has spanned several years and involved multiple government agencies.
The settlement on Tuesday is expected to include a deal with the Manhattan district attorney’s office and a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department, according the officials. The Treasury Department is also expected to join the settlement.
Since January 2009, the Justice and Treasury Departments and Manhattan prosecutors have charged six foreign banks, including Credit Suisse and Barclays. In June, ING Bank reached a $619 million settlement to resolve claims that it had transferred billions of dollars in the United States for Cuba and Iran.
HSBC has been working to offset some problems recently, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The bank, whose history dates to an era when the British empire was at its height, has spent the past two years selling off unprofitable businesses and centralizing its global structure stretched across 80 countries.
HSBC officials now blame that structure for much of their U.S. legal trouble, which began when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in 2007 looked at suspicious cash flows involving HSBC branches in Mexico and the U.S.
In the past year, the bank has hired several former U.S. government money-laundering experts to help improve its financial controls. It named Stuart Levey as its top legal officer. Mr. Levey formerly served as the Treasury Department’s top official tracking terrorism and illicit financing. His portfolio includes managing legal officers in HSBC operations around the world.
Many of the HSBC money-laundering problems centered on bulk-cash, U.S. dollar transactions between HSBC’s Mexico and U.S. units. The transactions were detailed in a U.S. Senate investigative report published this past summer.
The report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations detailed a regulatory culture at HSBC that shocked even its own employees, according to testimony provided to the committee and at a hearing.
Senate investigators concluded HSBC did little to clean up operations that should have raised concerns. HSBC’s Mexico bank had a branch in the Cayman Islands that had no offices or staff but held 50,000 client accounts and $2.1 billion in 2008, the report said.
I’m sure there are a many people who are happy to see a fine that’s in proportion to the bank’s revenues. It will be interesting to see if this is the new normal in fines or an outlier.
Most reporters think PR agency executives are pests, either bothering them on a daily basis to write about their clients or blocking access to sources. But that doesn’t mean building strong relationships with the right PR people isn’t valuable. In fact, it can be extremely helpful over the long term for reporting and career development.
Most PR executives are career-minded individuals trying to make an honest living and grow professionally. They respect good and fair journalism, even if it occasionally goes against their own interests, and can provide journalists with timely access to a variety of interesting and topical sources.
But source access isn’t everything. PR people with good clients can also be good background sources themselves, passing along things they’re hearing in the marketplace and even suggesting experts and insiders to help move a story forward.
Remember, PR people are talking to a wide array of different clients on a daily basis and their job is to know the market as well as a reporter does. What’s more, editors often reach out to their most trusted PR sources when they’re looking to fill reporter positions. Reporters with solid working relationships with the right PR people often have an easier time advancing their careers.
Here are some simple tips to follow to get the most out of a relationship with a PR executive:
–Learn to separate the wheat from the chaff — the good PR executives from the bad.
This shouldn’t be hard. Trust your intuition to ascertain if a PR executive knows their clients well, understands your needs and genuinely tries to help, even when they can’t give you access to a client. Other things to look for: Do they understand what you cover and can they quickly determine the best way to help you out? PR people who don’t understand a reporter’s perspective and get overly upset when a headline isn’t what they wanted aren’t worth your time either.
–Don’t be fooled by the reputation of the PR agency. Some of the best-known firms can have poor personnel, while smaller agencies may have some of the very best. Try to learn which firms are the good ones, and which people at those firms are the best and most helpful.
–Be open to developing relationships with PR executives. Go for lunch or grab a drink or a cup of coffee with a PR executive. They aren’t trying to woo you or curry favors. They simply want to get to know you outside of the office when you’re off deadline. The personal relationship will help both parties understand each others’ needs. Ask just as many questions of the PR person as you would a normal source.
–Try to work with PR executives to establish ground rules without bending to their wills. Understand that many potential sources are media neophytes — even the smartest financial wizards usually only have a vague idea of how the media works. It’s the job of a PR firm to explain that to them and put them out there when it’s best for them. Even if a PR firm wants to give you access, their client may be reticent to speak on a particular subject.
Acknowledge those concerns and work with the PR person to try to get the access you want. Many times the PR person is doing the same persuading you are. If prior ground rules for an interview can help persuade the source to come to the table, work with the PR person to find a way.
–Try to be open without giving away too much information. You don’t always need to give them a totally clear picture of how you plan to approach a story, yet you shouldn’t be totally opaque either. If you are too vague, it leads to suspicion, and they’ll advise their clients not to speak to you.
–If you plan to pan their client, try your best to let them know. Admittedly, this is a tough one. If you let the PR person know beforehand that a story is going to be negative, they may try to head it off by speaking to another outlet, or go into full spin mode. Good PR people will understand that not all stories are positive and try to make sure their perspective is reflected in your story. They will also appreciate the heads up so they can prepare their client—being blindsided by a negative story is one of the worst things a PR person has to deal with.
– As a general rule you should do everything you can to avoid having an adversarial relationship with a PR person. You’re not always going to cover their clients in the most favorable light, but treat people with respect and professionalism and that is usually reciprocated. They may not be happy with all your stories, but that doesn’t mean they don’t think you’re a good reporter.
Richard Dukas is the founder of Dukas Public Relations, a financial public relations firm.
by Chris Roush
European Union antitrust regulators plan to accept revised proposals from Thomson Reuters to end an investigation into whether its control over its financial instrument codes was anti-competitive, Reuters is reporting on Monday.
Foo Yun Chee of Reuters writes, “The sources, who were not from inside Thomson Reuters, said the decision meant the news and information company would not be penalized and that the investigation would be dropped.
“The Commission had expressed concern that Thomson Reuters may have abused its dominant position in financial data by preventing customers from using its codes to get data from rivals and cross-reference them.
“The case is part of an effort by EU regulators to ensure that traders and other users can get access to financial data at reasonable rates and be able to switch to competing services.
“The coding case was opened in October 2009 and the company has offered various concessions since, with the latest round proposed in May. It is these concessions – including lower license fees for using the codes – that would now be accepted.”
Read more here.
by Adam Levy
Last Wednesday, on a flight to Washington DC, I read an article in both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times about the horrific fire in Bangladesh two weeks ago in which 112 people died in a factory producing clothes for Wal-Mart.
Both articles were respectful of the tragedy and the magnitude of the disaster. That’s where the similarities end — and left me thinking one publication dropped the ball on reporting this crucially important story.
I read the Journal first and my takeaway was that poor ol’ Wal-Mart is almost an innocent bystander in this tragedy. The article seemed to point fingers at the retailer’s supplier, which, reportedly, skirted the rules for informing Wal-Mart that it was subcontracting some of its work.
Here’s what the Journal wrote:
Wal-Mart, for instance, says that it is the suppliers’ responsibility to use factories approved by the company, and it warns in an extensive manual that suppliers can be banned from doing business with it if they fail to get that approval.
Simco (the supplier) was familiar with those rules, because it has been making clothes for Wal-Mart for more than a decade and sells 70% of its production to the company, the senior Simco executive said. Yet he said Simco sent the girls’ shorts order to Tuba Group without Wal-Mart’s prior approval.
Many of the Journal’s assertions were sourced to documents on various companies’ websites. The story wrapped up with an old comment by a Wal-Mart executive saying it isn’t financially feasible to help improve fire safety in Bangladeshi factories. A Wal-Mart spokesman said that comment was taken out of context.
The Times’ coverage was markedly different. It was direct and damning. “Documents Indicate Walmart Blocked Safety Push in Bangladesh” was the headline. It cited documents showing that a Walmart official in 2011 played the lead role in blocking an effort to have global retailers pay more for apparel to help Bangladesh factories improve their electrical and fire safety.
And it left me convinced that Wal-Mart knew that the subcontractor had been producing clothes for the company. Here’s a paragraph from the Times article:
“It was not a single rogue supplier as Walmart has claimed — there were several different U.S. suppliers working for Walmart in that factory,” Mr. Nova said. “It stretches credulity to think that Walmart, famous for its tight control over its global supply chain, didn’t know about this.”
I don’t know if the Times nailed this story and the WSJ was too soft. But that’s the impression I got from reading both. And this is no ordinary story. This is important and newspapers of record and influence HAVE to get this right. Why? Because getting this story right can raise pressure on Wal-Mart and other global retailers to help fund fire safety measures throughout the world, and, hopefully, avert a tragedy like this from ever happening again.
by Chris Roush
Maddy Roth of American Journalism Review writes about the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation, a nonprofit journalism organization started by former Fortune writer Roddy Boyd to conduct investigative reporting on companies.
Roth writes, “Boyd saw that as media budgets shrank and investigative reporting sagged under the weight of the financial crisis and the impact of the digital revolution on traditional journalism, business reporting in particular took the hit. And because of this, as SIRF’s brochure reads, ‘concerned citizens, legislators and regulators have had little insight into the workings of investment and commercial banks, rating agencies and other powerful financial institutions as they have expanded, embarked on complex fiscal arrangements, raked in billions of dollars in profit and, in some cases, abruptly collapsed.’
“And so Boyd, author of ‘Fatal Risk: A Cautionary Tale of AIG’s Corporate Suicide,’ launched SIRF last month. He built a board of directors, hired a lawyer and accountants, and is taking the first steps toward constructing a nonprofit news outlet from scratch.
“He settled on the nonprofit model because he was determined to avoid conflicts of interest. He wants to make it clear that the foundation and its future employees will possess no economic interest in any companies they report on.
“‘We do not feel that anyone else is doing anything like this in the mainstream media,’ Boyd says. ‘While some short-sellers do brilliant research, they are doing it to make a short-term profit. We do it for free.’”
Read more here. DISCLOSURE: I am on the SIRF board.
by Liz Hester
If you’re a business journalist, you likely know about Reg FD (Fair Disclosure), the rule that publicly traded companies must make material announcements in a manner accessible to most investors. But is Facebook public?
Well, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is arguing that the social media site is a public forum after getting in hot water with the SEC for some of his recent status updates.
Here’s the post, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal:
Also from the WSJ’s blog:
The problem, it seems, is that “exceeded 1 billion hours” line. For a company whose big business is selling streaming video, that comes close enough to a sales figure to raise the eyebrows of regulators, who like to see those things published through formal channels where all investors are watching.
Facebook, Hastings argues in a reply posted today, is pretty public. He has over 200,000 followers on his page, including many in the tech media and investor community who quickly reported his comment. And besides, he claims:
“We think the fact of 1 billion hours of viewing in June was not “material” to investors, and we had blogged a few weeks before that we were serving nearly 1 billion hours per month”
That means that as a business journalist you’d better be Facebook friends, a Twitter follower, Instagram tracker, blog reader and somehow connected through every social media tool to the people you cover. This means your feeds will have to cover everyone from the CEO to the marketing officer to the press person. Good luck weeding through all the baby photos for the real news.
If Facebook somehow actually makes it past the Reg FD standard, that means more disparate places to check for information. It’s also another way sources will not have to actually speak with reporters and answer questions. Public relations staff will also have to shift how they think about talking to reporters if news is being broken through alternate channels.
But, all that’s up to the SEC and other regulators to decide. But please, Jeff Immelt, please accept my friend request.
by Liz Hester
Earlier this week, U.S. manufacturing unexpectedly fell to its lowest level in three years. Not a great sign for the economy Reuters pointed out:
U.S. manufacturing unexpectedly contracted in November, falling to its lowest in over three years in a sign the sector may be struggling to gain traction, according to an industry report released on Monday.
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity fell to 49.5 in November from 51.7 the month before. The reading was shy of expectations of 51.3, according to a Reuters poll of economists.
A reading below 50 indicates contraction in the manufacturing sector, while a number above 50 means expansion.
The index hit its lowest since July 2009 and contracted after two straight months of growth that followed a soft period over the summer months.
The employment index fell to 48.4, and was below 50 for the first time since September 2009.
But that doesn’t mean companies aren’t investing in the U.S. Apple CEO Tim Cook said Thursday he was considering making some of its ubiquitous computers in the states, moving production out of Asia.
Here are some details from the Wall Street Journal:
In a rare move, Apple Inc. on Thursday said it plans to invest more than $100 million next year to bring some production of its Mac computers to the U.S.
The investment, which would likely involve third-party manufacturers, comes as Apple and other U.S. hardware makers face scrutiny at home for the amount of production outsourced to partners in Asia, mostly in mainland China.
Since taking over Apple last year, chief executive Tim Cook has repeatedly identified increasing Apple’s manufacturing investment in the U.S. as a priority. Samsung Electronics Co. already makes Apple-designed microprocessor chips for the iPhone and iPad in Texas.
Which manufacturing partners Apple will working with and exactly which processes will happen on U.S. soil remain unclear. The company said that Apple will do more than simply assemble parts manufactured elsewhere. A spokesman declined to comment further.
Mr. Cook disclosed Apple’s manufacturing plans in interviews with NBC News and Bloomberg News.
But as the New York Times points out, computers aren’t generating the growth they used to for Apple. Now nearly half of revenue comes from the iPhone:
Apple, the biggest company in the world by market value, moved most of its manufacturing to Asia in the late 1990s. As an icon of American technology success and innovation, the California-based company has been criticized in recent years for outsourcing jobs abroad.
“I don’t think we have a responsibility to create a certain kind of job,” Mr. Cook said in the Businessweek interview. “But I think we do have a responsibility to create jobs.”
The company plans to spend $100 million on the American manufacturing in 2013, according to the interviews, a small fraction of its overall factory investments and an even tinier portion of its available cash.
Over the last few years, sales of the iPhone, iPod and iPad have overwhelmed Apple’s line of Macintosh computers, the basis of the company’s early business. Revenue from the iPhone alone made up 48 percent of the company’s total revenue for its fiscal fourth quarter ended Sept. 30.
BusinessWeek’s cover story is a wide-ranging interview with the CEO (done as a Q&A), so I’ll leave you with Cook’s own words on the manufacturing move and the responsibility to create jobs:
You were instrumental in getting Apple out of the manufacturing business. What would it take to get Apple back to building things and, specifically, back to building things in the U.S.?
It’s not known well that the engine for the iPhone and iPad is made in the U.S., and many of these are also exported—the engine, the processor. The glass is made in Kentucky. And next year we are going to bring some production to the U.S. on the Mac. We’ve been working on this for a long time, and we were getting closer to it. It will happen in 2013. We’re really proud of it. We could have quickly maybe done just assembly, but it’s broader because we wanted to do something more substantial. So we’ll literally invest over $100 million. This doesn’t mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we’ll be working with people, and we’ll be investing our money.
On that subject, it’s 2012. You’re a multinational. What are the obligations of an American company to be patriotic, and what do you think that means in a globalized era?
(Pause.) That’s a really good question. I do feel we have a responsibility to create jobs. I don’t think we have a responsibility to create a certain kind of job, but I think we do have a responsibility to create jobs. I think we have a responsibility to give back to the communities, to pick ways that we can do that … and not just in the U.S., but abroad as well. I think we have the responsibility to make great products that we can recycle and that are environmentally friendly. I think we have a responsibility to make products that have a greater good in them.
That’s the one that is most important of all, because a cigarette company could give back things and environmentally dispose of their product or something like that. But we want to provide a product that changes people’s lives in some way. We spend a lot of energy focusing on education. We created iBooks Author and gave it away for free. We wanted to reinvent the textbook and reinvent the classroom and try to really go a long way to solving the student engagement problem. It doesn’t solve every problem in education, but it solves a very important one, right?
Well said, Tim, well said.
by Chris Roush
Julie Moos of the Poynter Institute was able to get Bloomberg Businessweek editor in chief Josh Tyrangiel to answer some questions about its cover-story this week, which was an interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Here is an excerpt:
Poynter: How did the interview come about?
Josh Tyrangiel: Businessweek has had a good relationship with Apple for years, and I’ve worked with Apple for a long time as well. We pitched them on a lengthy conversation many months ago, and two weeks ago they called and said Tim was ready to talk. Simple as that.
There’s a familiar, authentic tone to the questions and responses. Can you say anything about the relationship between you two? Have you interviewed him previously (and if so, how many times)?
Tyrangiel: We’ve met before, but never done a formal interview. I’d say that any sense you get of warmth or familiarity is a tribute to Tim Cook. It’s not easy to be interviewed, but he’s really quite free of affectation and very comfortable talking candidly about Apple.
The interview broke news in several different ways. How did you think about that as a goal?
Tyrangiel: Like most interviews, my goal was simply to have a good conversation. I aimed to touch on as many things as possible in the time at hand, and perhaps we sacrificed a bit of depth on some issues for breadth. But I think that was the right strategy.
Read more here.