Apple's public relations team pushing back in wake of bad press

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While Apple in the past has taken a stealth approach to dealing with the media, the company's public relations department has stepped up its efforts in recent weeks in an attempt to counter some negative media reports about the company's performance.

AppleInsider noted last week that Apple had "uncharacteristically" issued a press release heralding the launch of iOS 6.1. Fixes and additions in the software update were relatively minor, and such events do not usually garner a dedicated press release from Apple.

In addition to the more obvious, public changes, the company has also been working behind the scenes, according to The Wall Street Journal. In a report published on Tuesday, the publication noted that Apple's communications staff "recently sent reporters more favorable third-party reports about the company."

Among those reports was a study that predicts Apple will be as accepted in the enterprise by 2014 as Microsoft is today. Apple has reportedly sent reporters a total of five favorable studies since the start of the year, an unusually large number for the company.

While the changes are admittedly not a "big shift" for Apple, a source that spoke with the Journal did characterize them as "a recognition that competition is heating up."

Apple reported its holiday quarter earnings late last month, in which it revealed that its sales are growing at a slower rate than the breakneck pace seen in recent years. Investors quickly panicked and sent the stock plunging.

Negativity about Apple in recent weeks expressed by analysts and seen in media reports has been related to a number of issues. Among them are lower gross margins, a perception that Apple may have lost its "cool" factor to Android-based rivals like Samsung, and declining Mac sales in the same quarter that Microsoft debuted its new Windows 8 operating system.

Still others have dismissed those concerns, and see the likelihood for continued growth in Apple's future. Potential catalysts on the horizon include new iPhones and iPads, potential expansions of the iPhone lineup to both a less expensive model and a larger display, and the longstanding rumors of an Apple television set.