UPDATE : Blackberry has now been taken private and is reportedly having issues with its suppliers [We would like to state for the record, to our knowledge, it had nothing to do with Paul’s decision]
After what many, perhaps prematurely, called a disastrous weekend for Blackberry, with massive job losses, a ‘falling knife’ run on its share price and announcements of delays spoiling the launch of an otherwise critically acclaimed BBM integration with Android, there’s even more bad news – my first ever iPhone, in gold, arrives today.
Not that this will be devastating for the management at Blackberry – they have lots of other issues to deal with. Its just that as I retire from a decade-long love affair with Canadian hardware, there are (at least) five lessons an independent Blackberry needs to learn and fast.
B2B marketing is not the same as B2C. Hiring prominent iPhone users as some sort of pathetic brand ambassador is lame – to say the least.
It is now clear Social Media apps are not all equal. Our B2B tech clients care much more about LinkedIn and Twitter than Facebook or Pinterest for instance. So perhaps some extra features on the business-related apps would be a smart move.
The keyboard advantage may be sustainable. The addition of Swiftkey to the BB10 operating system may be enough for heavy texters. I for one, will be back if the iPhone lets me down when sending rapid but detailed messages.
The incessant bad news about cloud outages and Cyber-Security issues could provide real strategic advantage. While the youngsters slowly waking up to Facebook and others milling their data, enterprises are now showing signs of wanting to remove Cyber Risk. Play this card.
BBM has some real challenges in Asia and increasingly elsewhere. Either you play this game and enable it properly on cheaper smartphones, or you sell what you can and get out. Hyper focus is what you need.
I know my treacherous handset switch will have repercussions, I am already worried about frittering time away on pointless ‘pastime apps’ – ‘Draw Something’ or ‘Word with Friends’ anyone? Another concern is that my ability to send correctly punctuated emails of over three paragraphs will wither due to the virtual keyboard and man-sized digits.
Finally though the upside of staying loyal to Blackberry is now not worth the iPhone upside of a diary which syncs properly with Gmail, a decent camera and the same access to apps as clients. The real issue though for Positive Marketing’s trendy young team is image. How can they be so hip and happening, now the boss has got the same phone as them while the rest of the world ‘drives a Samsung’. Maybe there is a chance for Nokia and Microsoft after all….
A distinguished UK tech journalist is about to cross over to ‘the dark side’. We spoke yesterday about his decision to move into what used to be called Public Relations (PR) and both agreed he would sorely miss being a writer. The truth though is that the world he is leaving has changed so much that some question the value of his generation’s expert knowledge. These days every IT user is an expert and journalism is being replaced by Word Of Mouth (WOM).
Back in the day, all good hacks were equipped with PR bullshit detectors. More politely called the ‘Editorial Filter’ it was most visible at product launches. When demos resulted in smoke issuing from hardware or PowerPoint slides left out important technical details, the expensively assembled pack of hacks would quite rightly savage the hapless tech vendor in print. This could destroy any chance of sales that quarter (or until the PR team ushered them to the next launch venue). In many ways, PR was a sort of payola for keeping the public uninformed. Some still see it as such, but the worm has turned.
These days it is citizens, mostly unpaid, who create critiques 24 hours a day and there is another ugly acronym for this; UGC (User Generated Content). A dissatisfied customer will fill a user forum with more vitriol than any incensed editor ever could. A recent scan of the online help sections of my mobile operator and internet service provider would make you believe these multi-billion organizations were pyramid schemes run by half-wits – which they clearly are not. While some of the disgruntled punters here are the equivalent of the ‘green ink brigade’, some of this dirt sticks.
Just like a low Amazon rating, Word Of Mouth marketing matters. We marketing professionals are all too aware of this feedback loop, so why do we still see stories like the iPhone4 antenna debacle, the Toyota software/car mat mystery, the BP weeping wound or the Facebook furore over the fanboys and girls of a killer?* The media call these PR disasters, they are, in fact just disasters and PR alone cannot fix them.
Could it be that the successor to PR (social relations or whatever we decide to call it) can help here? Not the old smiley, press junket payola, but a fresher always-on, Google-alerted proactive PR. Looks like my friend (now rival) will, as the latest addition to the PR family, need to pick up some new skills, which are actually very similar to his old ones.
*The Facebook example holds particular interest, because when approached about its first ever European PR hire, I recommended they look for a candidate with crisis management PR experience. They sensibly rejected my candidature, after asking about my work with a well-known sports apparel brand, they (wrongly) assumed I had worked for. Wonder which was the more useful skill?