Can't get to a TV studio to call people on to the streets to defeat a coup? There's an app for that

In 2009 Apple started to use the slogan ‘There’s an app for that’ to promote the iPhone - ‘There’s an app for that’. You can see one of the adverts below.

The point being made was that, whatever the need, your iPhone would have an app to meet it.  I am sure that none of the people who came up with the slogan ever imagined that an app would be used to defeat a coup. Yet on Friday night (14th July) a combination of FaceTime and President Erdoğan did just that. 


The story has been told elsewhere extensively so I won't retell it here, suffice to say being unable to get to a TV studio to rally people against the coup the President called CNN via FaceTime (Apple's video phone app). He was shown live on TV by the very low tech method of zooming a camera onto the phone screen. While the exact importance of this ‘appearance' on TV will be debated for years to come it seems pretty clear that it was a pivotal moment as it allowed the President to get his message out to his supporters

From the perspective of a digital communications consultant two things immediately came to mind.

Firstly who came up with the idea? Was it an aide? Whoever it was, I would love to ask them how they pitched the idea at this moment of high drama.

Secondly, and more seriously, this story shows just how far digital has become a core competency for communications professionals. In many ways this is an ‘old' media story - the President called a TV studio after all - but he was only able to show himself to his people resisting the coup because of a digital tool.

What would have happened if someone hadn't thought of the idea? What would have happened if someone hadn't known how to use the app properly, and the call had gone wrong? Would that have caused more panic among supporters? While we can't be certain, I think we can be pretty sure this story wouldn't had ended so well for Mr Erdoğan if someone in his team hadn't hit upon the idea of using FaceTime and hadn't known how to use the app properly.

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