BlackBerry’s PR Life Lessons

A while back, prior to the launch of the new BlackBerry 10, LPP posted a blog offering three startup PR lessons from BlackBerry 10.

Lesson 1, the blog said, was to know when to pivot. That is, know when and whether the world has passed your solutions and products by, and adapt quickly.

Lesson 2 was to remember that you only launch once, so make that one moment critical.

And Lesson 3 was that perception is everything.

Let’s look at how BlackBerry has fared on those three counts. BlackBerry did not know when to pivot. Back in the day, 12 years ago or so, BlackBerry was the definition of cool in mobile devices. Pre BlackBerry, there were the flip phones, and the ever-smaller cell phones. There was even Palm’s Treo, which with its stylus was hot for a while. Then BlackBerry came along, with a QWERTY keyboard and seamless integration of phone, text and e-mail. For a long time, BlackBerry was THE phone. Then came the iPhone and the game changed. BlackBerry came up with a variety of responses, all of them lame and late. It remains to be seen if the new BlackBerry 10 can get the brand back into the game.

Which leads to Lesson 2. So far so good. Six months ago BlackBerry was a company for whom oblivion and “dead brand” were only a matter of time. I teased co-workers who still had BlackBerrys. But in the few weeks since the launch of the BlackBerry 10, the reviews have been very positive. The New York Times over the course of two days gave the new phone here and here the kinds of reviews that PR communicators would give anything for. Business Insider and others followed suite. The phone also looks cool.

So the Hail Mary pass is in the air. Whether it gets successfully caught in the end zone—and whether the early buzz is enough for skeptical buyers—remains to be seen. But at least the pass is in the air and BlackBerry didn’t get sacked with no time on the clock.

And that leads to the third lesson, about perception. Most former BlackBerry users have pretty decent memories of their phones. It’s not that the BlackBerry was a bad product, it’s just that better solutions came along. So if BlackBerry can leverage that relatively large reservoir of goodwill by offering a next-generation product that’s better than Android and the iPhone, then there’s life for it yet.

  • Mario

    Well, this article doesn’t really give any “lessons in PR,” since it evaluates the past with 20/20 hindsight – everybody can do that! – and makes no predictions about the future. The article basically recounts Blackberry’s marketing activities and product launches, but offers not “lesson” as to whether Blackberry will succeed or not, except to say, in essence, “let’s wait a bit to see of they work!” I would fire my PR company if they tell me!