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Does Blackberry need a PR rethink?

Gizmodo’s Brian Lam is ticked off.  The Blackberry PR team didn’t provide him with a review unit of the new Storm 2 before launch, and consequently he didn’t write a review. Only the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal got the units, apparently.

RIM has consistently ignored bloggers for a very long time, so Brian shouldn’t be that suprised. Their strategy looks like a hold-over from their enterprise sales days.  The Journal and the Times are two of the biggest publications read by business leaders across the US, and so they get the review units.  As RIM continues their assault on consumer markets, however, it seems clear that they’re going to have to change the way they approach media outreach.  They’re going to have to come up with programs that target writers in enthusiast markets, and in mainstream publications.

The best at providing review units and opportunities for writers is Nokia. Nokia’s “blogger relations” program was started by Andy Abramson five years ago. The program cultivates a community of enthusiastic geeks (like myself) who are always pleased to get a chance to see and play with their latest offerings, and to write about them – good and bad.  It has paid off for Nokia with a large and loyal following of enthusiastic customers.

Over to you, Waterloo.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Pat Phelan October 17, 2009, 9:10 am

    I completly disagree with Brians tack
    We now have bloggers with a sense of entitlement to devices, if a company wants to give devices great, if they don't that's great too.
    As I am sure Andy will confirm a blogger program for devices needs a much different management system to a press program for devices.
    Andy ran one of the best and managed it perfectly.
    This entitlement syndrome is just not on.

  • Alec October 17, 2009, 10:11 am

    I sure disagree with Brian's tactics Pat. I doubt he'll get what he wants this way. However, I do think that RIM needs to update their programs to take into account the reality that so much consumer opinion is shaped on the net, and not in the WSJ.

  • Kyle October 23, 2009, 11:30 am

    Alec, be careful about taking Brian Lam's post as being indicative of an attitude towards bloggers from RIM. Lam was upset and wrote about not getting a review unit a little prematurely. I think it would be worth contacting Lam about it now and see if he still feels this way.

    As someone who writes a BlackBerry blog, I can tell you RIM does not ignore bloggers. In fact, RIM is hosting an event in New York to show off the upcoming 9700, and giving bloggers a free device. This isn't the first time they've done this either. Our site has received almost every single device free from RIM, and they don't ask for anything but our honest constructive criticism.

    The Storm 2 review units that were not shipped out to Gizmodo was a complicated situation. The Storm 2 did not pass Verizon's technical acceptance program, which put a wrench in the whole device launch. While I'm not privy to exactly what happened, I can deduce a lot from news leading up to the launch. When the device didn't go through the technical acceptance program, Verizon must have told their PR firm, as well as RIM, to hold off on review units as they don't want bloggers bitching about a device that they haven't approved themselves. With the Storm 1 launch not being so great, it is absolutely essential for Verizon to get it right the second time. On the other hand, as Vodafone launched the device, it was a PR disaster for all parties involved. Vodafone made Verizon look like they didn't have their act together, when in actuality they were insulating themselves from what could have been an even bigger PR disaster.

    So you can see how these things are easily misinterpreted. Feel free to email me if you want more details.

    • Alec October 24, 2009, 7:01 am

      thanks for the counterpoint, Kyle. I was honestly not aware of any coordinated outreach by RIM to bloggers. It's good to know that they're doing this!

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