Saturday, October 15, 2011

BlackBerry Jam

Has BlackBerry's reign as the world's leading small medium at large finally come to an end?

Sorry. Let me take a Mulligan.

It's not a good sign when a three-day global BlackOut of your service doesn't rattle your stock price. True, BlackBerry's stock didn't have far to fall. That dual-carb, jet-black acrylic-enamel babe-magnet trading at $150/share in 2008 was King of the Strip till those turbo-charged smartphones bumped it into the $25-and-under lane. And after that shellacking, the three-day pitstop was a mere annoyance. But when your tree falls in the forest and nobody makes a sound, you've got problems.

"Down, Twinkles."
And, as you can imagine, there's a lesson here for us. Marshall McLuhan was right: The medium is the message. How you communicate your message literally affects how people perceive it.  

Research in Motion (RIM) co-CEO Mike Lazaridis knew this when he broadcast his apology to his rapidly dwindling customer base via YouTube, FaceBook and Twitter (Blackberry is soooo 2007--which was a big part of its stock problem. And besides, their service was out). 

Watching Lazaridis on YouTube, one could actually feel that he really regretted losing all that stock value. You can't convey that kind of pain on a BlackBerry. (The only distraction was Lazaridis' creepy resemblance to Frank Caliendo channeling John Madden.) And as far as CEO apologies go, Lazaridis' was much more convincing than Netflix CEO Reed Hastings' painful attempt at sincerity. (More on that here.)  

Which brings us to the Occupy Wall Street Communications Department. It's one thing to be so bereft of a message framework that MSNBC's Donny Deutsch suggests a "Kent State" moment to "articulte" your position. I understand that "it's hard to get concensus with so many beautiful, equal voices sharing all those wonderful globe-leveling ideas..." I get it. Really.
"Sorry about the outage."

But when you go out of your way to develop a medium that actually retards your message delivery--a system so primitive, so ineffective, so ... so Lord of the Flies! Well, that's PR malpractice, my friends.

"Jazz hands" and "down twinkles" do not a revolution make. And when the feedback you get on your human mic is belly laughs and Jim Jones cult comparisons, you medium has definitley sent the wrong message.

So, congratulations, folks. Your medium IS the message. And the message is, "It's no wonder we don't have day jobs."   

"No probs. I was gonna
get the 4S-ster, anyway.
So whoop-dee-doo."
(Full disclosure: A few people I respect and love support this movement. I don't, obviously. But while I disagree with what they are saying, and while I'd proudly defend their right to say it, I'll be damned if I'll just sit back and watch them let this serious PR crisis go to waste.)


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