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An article in Ad Age purports to expose something that every Valley reporter has long known, but never come out and said: Apple's PR department is the biggest group of slackers to grace the tech world. What, exactly, do they do all day long? It's a mystery. For the uninitiated reporter looking to get a quote, the list of Apple PR contacts, complete with direct-dial numbers, seems heaven-sent. But don't get too excited. Every call goes straight to voicemail, like the entire PR department paid its credit card bill late and is now ducking the collection agency. If you leave a voicemail, reporters say, it more often than not disappears into the ether, never to be returned.

As Ad Age points out: "if you Google 'Apple did not return calls,' you'll come up with 2.35 million hits." That claim is more than a bit sloppy. The exact phrase "Apple did not return calls" returns 3,100 hits. But still, Apple makes the rest of the Valley look like pikers when it comes to withering silence. "Google did not return calls" calls up 978 hits, while "Yahoo did not return calls" comes in at a mere 82 results.

Even if you're able to get through, Apple's PR department is notoriously difficult to work with. As one Silicon Valley reporter told me "If they designed the iPod, every time you went to play a song, the thing would call your parents to ask why your taste in music is terrible, and then, a week later, let you listen to 5 seconds of the song."

So, if you need to get a quote for your story, what should you do? If you're a newbie, you're screwed. Save yourself time, and as you leave your fruitless, pro forma voicemail, create a macro to autotype "Apple did not return calls." Been at this beat for a while? Bypass the PR department altogether, and just IM Steve Jobs himself.