I’ve written about the problems at BlackBerry frequently. I wrote back in early 2012 that unless the company fixed it’s perception problems it was effectively dead. I commented on the botched BlackBerry 10 launch that former CEO Thorsten Heins claimed would turnaround the company’s fortunes. More recently, I’ve watched as the company’s stock price has gone violently up and down on one announcement or other: up on the perception of positive news and down on stories that were seen as negative. All major public relations fails.
Fig 1. BlackBerry stock price Feb 24 – 28 2014
Fig 2. BlackBerry 2000 – present
Despite what most of my peers think, public relations isn’t about press coverage. It’s about relationship building. The stronger the relationships the easier managing perception becomes – and vice versa… and this is something that BlackBerry has still failed to grasp. Had it spent time building the strong relationships with its Enterprise customer base, operator partners, journalists and analysts [industry and financial] it wouldn’t be where it finds itself today. Had BlackBerry worked on fixing its perception as a company in mortal danger and at the mercy of its competition’s every move its stock price profile over the last 6, 12 and 18 months wouldn’t resemble a range of mountains.
Is it too late for BlackBerry? Probably. But if they ditched the BlackBerry name – using it only for the cellular devices rather than company -, renamed the company QNX and started using public relations to build relationships with the people late matter most to their business. $BBRy should work on rebuilding relationships with Enterprise CIOs, making decisions on BYOD and security technologies within the largest Blackberry adopters/installs; they should ditch their consumer market play – and their virtual keyboard handsets and focus on the Q10,
$BBRY should also focus on developing an Enterprise ecosystem that works as well for large organizations as it does for small businesses and startups. Help an entrepreneur start to build their business and he/she is unlikely to ever forget it. Trust me – it’s likely to be loyalty for life!
But, what $BBRY needs to get started on creating and rolling out a very targeted strategic and tactical public relations program. It needs to identify who the key people are that it needs to build relationships with, what it needs to say and do to in order to change their perception of the company – and it needs to do it soon. It may be too late to do anything before the company’s next earnings report on March 28th but if the company has any chance of long-term survival then changing the perception of the company has to be priority number one.