What went wrong?

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The European MD of Blackberry’s makers Research in Motion might be called Stephen Bates but he might as well have been christened Norman for his horrific performances on the BBC today.

It was a big day for RIM. The key messages were prepared. This was a new start and Blackberry 10 was being launched in six cities simultaneously.

And to kick it off, a round of BBC interviews. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the first rule of media interviews is to answer the question. But on his 5 Live Breakfast interview with Nicky Campbell, Bates, who was on to promote the launch of Blackberry 10,  refused to answer the question “What did you learn from iPhone.”

As Nicky added with increasing exasperation: “It sounds like your reading from the press release.”

You’d have thought his media handlers would have taken him aside and given him some pointers before going on BBC Breakfast with Steph West.

Maybe they did. But if so,  Bates wasn’t listening to advice or the questions. Steph repeatedly asked, in reference to Blackberry’s declining share of the global smartphone market from 90% in 2008 to 6% now, ‘What went wrong.’

If you don’t want to watch the car crash, look away now.

Steph even had fun tweeting after the interview…

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As someone who media trains for a living, and used to be a BBC producer, you must at least attempt to answer the question, especially when the alternative is to waffle on and make the interviewer increasing agitated.

These questions should have been anticipated. It would have been good to admit that they had learned from the iPhone. Listening  and learning is good. Admitting where you went wrong, earns respects amongst consumers and the City.

Bates should have been taught to do ABC – Acknowledgle, Bridge and Communicate. So Bates could have:

Acknowledged the question ‘What went wrong’ with : “Well, we led the market but other innovators came on the scene…”

Bridged to what he wanted to say: “…but competition is good and that why we’ve learn from it…”

Communicate! Key message, key message, key message! : “and that’s why Blackberry 10 is going to power us through the next 10 years because it’s a fantastic new operating system.”

I hope Bates hasn’t had his fingers burnt over this. Communicating and engaging with the media is vital for his business.

Unfortunately, a multi-million pound relaunch has been overshadowed by an MD who was scared to admit that we all mistakes.

And THAT was what went wrong.

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