Stevemail smackdown on student strikes sparks

On Friday, Gawker ran the story of Chelsea K. Isaacs and her claimed email back-and-forth with Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Now it's all the buzz.

Isaacs, a self-described "renowned college journalist, artist and social fixture" (also apparently North America's "most desirable hand model" at the age of 12, which is, if accurate, rather creepy), didn't get the replies she sought when she reached out to Apple's media relations team over and over for answers relating to a class assignment. Since her three iPad-related questions were apparently the key to her getting an A on her classwork, and she felt that she'd been ill-treated by the silence, she took her case to El Steve.

The exchange was spicy enough to get covered all over the place, from New York Magazine to the UK's Guardian newspaper. Apparently, when a CEO bothers to answer his email at all, she thought he'd be friendly and helpful -- not say things like "Our goals do not include helping you get a good grade" and "Please leave us alone." Curt and more than a little rude? Sure, but a) that's our Steve, and b) she kind of had it coming.

I'm not sure how much Ms. Isaacs knows about Apple, but if she was expecting a prompt and thorough response to any question that began "I'm working on a college assignment" from the PR folk, she's not living on the same planet as any journalist or blogger who covers the company. From the bottom to the top, Apple employees hold their cards close to the chest, and often as not a request for comment goes unanswered -- even from major media outlets, to say nothing of college seniors.

Calling repeatedly and desperately with the three mystery iPad questions, rather than rolling with a placid "Apple's representatives were not available for comment" or seeking out other sources of info, doesn't speak for her journalistic acumen. Emailing the CEO to complain that nobody would help her with her schoolwork? Well, that's just sophomoric. One thing's for certain, though, she's got her good grade in Brand Promotion 101 -- although who knows how well it will serve her out in the job market.

Of course, from a media relations perspective, far better if Steve had skipped replying at all, or come back with a simple "Sorry, can't help" rather than getting in that satisfying but unnecessary dig about her grades. Then again, she's fortunate he didn't get really ticked off and go all ninja on her.