Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Blackberry looking dangerously like BP

Blackberry's blackout continues and appears to be spreading with users in the United States now experiencing problems. The evening TV news bulletins featured, for the first time in the ongoing 3 day crisis, a spokesman from RIM, the makers of Blackberry. Stephen Bates repeated that RIM was “working hard around the clock to resolve the issue” a number of times during these clips. He was also sorry for the impact the technical fault has had on customers. It is a start but not nearly enough. This is still a PR nightmare of increasingly global proportions.

It is common for technology companies to keep things very close to their chests - their points of difference can make them millions - but the irony is that it is these very companies who have made the modern instant world so instant.

There is a recent lesson in crisis communications which nods towards what happens when a global company remains in denial for too long. In the Gulf of Mexico oil spill BP was too slow in admitting the size of the issue facing them. Their culture meant that they tried to keep it in-house and deal with the crisis without being completely transparent. Very soon the scale of the spill became apparent and BP's actions seen to be insufficient.

The real danger is that RIM, for whatever reason, is failing to communicate and be open and honest with their customers. It looks increasingly as if they are also in denial or hiding something. As criticism increases from individual customers - some high profile celebrities - and media interest grows RIM must be able to demonstrate action, and fast. If they don't then they will have a huge reputational challenge on their hands.  

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