Thank the PR gods you don’t work for BlackBerry maker Research in Motion.
The New York Times on Tuesday
published an obituary for the BlackBerry—not an actual obit, but a story that says the device is an embarrassment to its owners. It even compares the gadget to—gulp
“The BlackBerry was once proudly carried by the high-powered and the elite, but those who still hold one today say the device has become a magnet for mockery and derision from those with iPhones and the latest Android phones,” the Times
’ Nicole Perlroth wrote.
But it gets worse for the PR pros at RIM—the Times
didn’t give them a chance to respond.
Amy McDowell, the senior director of corporate communications at RIM, told PR Daily
that the Times
did not contact the company prior to publishing the story.
editor contacted by PR Daily
would not comment on the matter.)
By 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday, BlackBerry had issued a formal response, saying, “The New York Times
article ('The BlackBerry as Black Sheep' - 16 October 2012) contains a number of inaccuracies and lacks the balance RIM and our 80 Million BlackBerry customers expect.” The statement offered a list of facts in an attempt to counter the claims made in the article, some of which were echoed in a letter to the editor
from RIM CEO Thorsten Heins published on Thursday.
After the story hit the Web on Tuesday, BlackBerry mustered support on Twitter, with its fans tweeting (and retweeting) the hashtag #TeamBlackBerry.
CNN host Piers Morgan also weighed in on behalf of BlackBerry:
Of course, critics of BlackBerry took advantage of the hashtag to heap more criticism upon the device:
The editor of the website CrackBerry
also mounted an ad hoc defense for BlackBerry, co-opting the hashtag #NotEmbarrassed:
In the Times
story, which is among the most-viewed
, Perlroth ravages BlackBerry. She interviewed several of the phone’s owners, some of whom say they’re ashamed of the device. One insists he’d like to take a baseball to his BlackBerry. Perlroth also slammed the company’s promotional efforts, casting them as cringe-worthy.
But it’s not all griping and sniping; the story contains some grim facts about BlackBerry: More companies are ditching the device for the iPhone and Android as RIM’s market share has dropped to less than 5 percent, from 50 percent just a few years ago.
It’s this reality that inspired the website 24/7 Wall St
. to predict that RIM will go out of business by year’s end. That’s probably a stretch—but this New York Times
story isn’t helping matters, nor is it making the job of RIM’s PR pros very easy.