Communication Crisis Outage as a Chronic Disease at Research in Motion, Blackberry

Are you bored to read in the newspapers and specialized blogs savage critics about how Research in Motion (RIM) has handled the communication crisis created by Blackberry outage?

If not, I show you a selection of comments and assessment by some PR experts:

RIM’s Excuse For BlackBerry Outage Finally Emerges, TechDirt

Research In Motion has delivered an explanation of what caused the BlackBerry outage earlier this week — sort of. It says an insufficiently tested software upgrade set off a series of errors at its network operations center, which processes all the emails for BlackBerry devices in North America, and then its “failover process”, which is supposed to switch things to a backup system, didn’t work properly.

(…) RIM’s contention that it was upgrading its software on a Tuesday night, rather than over a weekend, has raised some red flags. Then, if a scheduled upgrade was behind the problem, shouldn’t that have been immediately obvious to the company and news spread quickly by its PR team? The real damage from this episode won’t be the outage itself, but rather the fallout from how RIM deals with it. On that front, things already aren’t looking so good.

The Silence of

The Blackberry outage that left North American users of the ubiquitous wireless handheld email device in the dark for much of Wednesday didn’t prevent plenty of people communicating.

Communicating about the loss of service, that is, via blog posts, Twitter, media commentary and just about anything you can think of – except a Blackberry, of course.

Not a word yet from maker Research in Motion.

While RIM may have restored the service, they have work at hand to restore customer confidence in something that so many people rely on deeply.

(…) An alarm bell for RIM. Silence doesn’t work. While I’m not sure I’d call this acommunication crisis – not yet, anyway – the fact that RIM are not out there communicating means that others will fill the vacuum; before you know it, RIM will have a crisis on their hands.

RIM Botches BlackBerry outage communication, ZDNet

Research in Motion’s BlackBerry has had an outage since late last night, but the company response was slow.

If you dial the BlackBerry support line–877-255-2377–here’s what you get:

“Please be advised we are currently experiencing a service interruption that is causing delays in sending and receiving messages. We apologize for the inconvenience and will provide update as they are available.”

No timeline for restoring service. No initial response even as reports, first on, of outages came pouring in. And as Russell Shaw noted as he has covered the play by play–nooutward signs of notification from RIM.

(…) Life may be easier if RIM would communicate better. Shaw also adds some reasoning why RIM has largely been silent:

“Not only does the BlackBerry site offer no service advisory, but there is no acknowledgement of a problem that has been in effect for more than 12 hours now. That lack of notification is beyond slack. But to understand the reason for this, BlackBerry’s corporate culture has always been to defer to carrier partners for consumer interactions.”

RIM faces criticism over communications, Bruce Meyerson, Associated Press

After two days of silence about a lengthy outage in its BlackBerry e-mail service, the company that makes the mobile device issued a jargon-laden update indicating that a minor software upgrade had crashed the system.

Jim Balsillie, RIM’s co-chief executive, downplayed the criticism of the company’s communications as “a trifle unfair,” because the focus was restoring service, and the primary means of contacting users was unavailable.

Furthermore, he said, there was no information to disseminate until the cause was identified.

From the time the e-mail ceased flowing Tuesday evening, it took RIM more than 12 hours to issue a vague three-sentence statement acknowledging the disruption. No further updates were provided until late Thursday’s statement.

“So far, all we have gotten from RIM are explanations fit for engineers, not customers,” said Richard S. Levick, whose firm Levick Strategic Communications specializes in crisis communications.

“They have to stop thinking like engineers and start thinking like a utility,” he said. “When the telephone lines go down or the power goes out, the first thing these utilities do is try to fix the problem while simultaneously communicating with the media and customers.”

Could RIM have responded better to outage?, Infoworld

Throughout the outage, (…) the RIM and BlackBerry Web sites lacked any information regarding the outage. Multiple inquiries to press representatives made via telephone and e-mail were not answered through Wednesday afternoon, although RIM did issue a statement to European reporters earlier in the day, confirming the outage and saying service had been restored to most users and that it was looking into the cause of the problems.

One crisis management consultant said customers expect more details in crisis situations. “The general rule is, if it’s really bad, get [information] out fast,” said James Lukaszewski, CEO of The Lukaszewski Group, in White Plains, New York. “It’d be a far less large situation if they communicated more.”

While non-BlackBerry users might not quite get the fondness for the handheld devices that leads to them being dubbed “CrackBerries,” a Web poll taken Wednesday by telecom expense management firm ProfitLine found that 81 percent of respondents representing enterprise IT and telecom professionals reported operations were disrupted by the outage with 44.5 percent saying that the effect was “moderate or substantial.”

Is there something new in the selected analysis of this post? No, definitively no. Not for you, if you are interested in communication crisis. And not for Blackberry users or Research in Motion brand management: the news that I have selected in this post where published in 2007. They correspond to April 2007 outage management, and not to October 2011 crisis!

Communication Crisis may be in chronic outage in Research in Motion.

2 thoughts on “Communication Crisis Outage as a Chronic Disease at Research in Motion, Blackberry

  1. Very interesting! I work for an organization, Good Days from Chronic Disease Fund, that works with patients to help them pay for the medication they need …

    BLOG MODERATOR: Dear friends. I am obliged to edit your comment. Even if I appreciate a lot your goals and efforts, they are completely unrelated with the content of this post. With my best regards.

  2. Pingback: Loewe Is Dead. Long Live Loewe! « Crisis, Media, Reputation

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