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Blackberry’s Masterclass in Bad PR

I know my blog is normally for reviewing the latest TV / Film / Music Gigs, but as a PR student and a fellow Blackberry user, I had to blog on the diabolical PR failure over at Blackberry / RIM HQ.

As I write this blog, millions of Blackberry users are waiting for the red flash to see a sign of life. Most have been without internet access since Monday morning. The blackout has fallen across Europe, Middle East, Africa as well as some South American countries and India. Ironically, the Blackberry meltdown has come in the same week that Apple is launching the new iPhone 4S, coincidence?

The point I want to get across is the lack of response from Blackberry through its various online communication channels to customers. I log onto the Blackberry UK website, there is nothing on their homepage or their blog (which has not been updated in four days) to explain the near total failure of its services. Turn to their Facebook and Twitter page, we are getting one measly update a day… the most recent being; “@UK_BlackBerry Message delays were caused by a core switch failure in RIM’s infrastructure. Sincerely sorry but now being resolved.” Is it too much to ask for hourly updates considering the extortionate prices we pay on a monthly basis for a Blackberry contract?

It is not just us normal folk who are struggling without our beloved Blackberry, celebrities such as Lord Alan Sugar, Piers Morgan and Olly Murs ‘tweeted’ their frustrations earlier on today:

  • Lord Sugar - “In all my years in IT biz, I have never seen such a outage as experienced by Blackberry. I can’t understand why it’s taking so long to fix”
  • Piers Morgan - “I love you #Blackberry - but if you continue to stop me BBM communicating with my sons, we’re so, like, OVER”
  • Olly Murs - “Sorry for the lack of tweets not like me!! Blackberry server still playing up!!! PROPER ANNOYING!!!”

One thing the late Steve Jobs instilled in his company was a sense of its public image. It’s hard to imagine a catastrophe like this happening to Apple, but if it did, you would expect round-the-clock crisis management, helpful communication and immediate resolution. The same with Google: if its search engine went down for more than 30 seconds, you would see – apart from the sudden grinding halt of the entire world – a rapid and open response. BlackBerry really could afford to learn a few tricks from them.

It’s a lesson: if you are going to make billions from communication, you cannot afford to be above communicating yourself.

(PS) Blackberry, can I come and work in your PR Department and put this issue right?!

Filed under Apple Blackberry Corporate Brand Corporate Image Crisis Management Facebook Lord Alan Sugar Mobile Phone PR Piers Morgan Public Relations RIM Steve Jobs Twitter Olly Murs