You’d think it would be hard to mess up a media interview when you’ve courted the broadcasters with news of a product launch. After all, they’re not hacks in a scrum outside your HQ after a leak about dodgy burgers or mass sackings, demanding to throw nasty questions at you.
Curiously, the European MD of Research In Motion, which makes Blackberry, didn’t sound guilty of failing to have media training; no, he came across as a man who’d either not had the right media training or had ignored all the good advice media trainers had given him.
Either way, we give “Mr Blackberry” some big fat raspberries for these fruity failures:
Raspberry #1: He started numerous answers with “So….”. Real people don’t speak like this. More importantly, Blackberry customers don’t speak like this…unless they’ve been on too many marketing courses run by people who talk about “low-hanging fruit” and “blue sky thinking”.
Raspberry #2: Mr Bates’s key messages about “Blackberry balance” and “transition” were meaningless. No wonder Nicky Campbell said, “Change, you mean?”. Who walks into a phone shop and says, “Could you sell me something that will help me transition?”
Raspberry #3: the Blackberry boss sounded as though he had swallowed the entire General Jargon Manual and now it was coming back up. These two interviews almost had the lot. Proposition? Tick. Going forward? Tick. Engaging with customers? Oh yes. User experience? Afraid so. Campbell could not resist commenting, “You sound like you’re reading from a press release”.
Raspberry #4: Bates failed to tell the story from the audience’s perspective. Instead, the interviews were littered with phrases like, “for us”, “power us”, “we’re pushing it” and “serve us”. In two of the greatest sales opportunities he’ll ever have – and that’s what national broadcast interviews can be – he ignored that guiding maxim: “What’s in it for the listener/viewer?” How would it save them time, money or effort? Even when asked to “Sell it to us” – and what a gift that was – he failed!
Raspberry #5: I don’t doubt Mr Bates had prepared. In fact I think he’d spent a long time with aides working out key messages and tactics. He’d probably been told to be upbeat and positive (he was) and not to mention Apple and avoid difficult questions about the iPhone (he did). But you cannot ignore a question, such as “What have you learned from Apple?” again and again…and again. If you do, you’ll irritate the hell out of the audience for ducking the question and you’ll really rattle the interviewer, who, make no mistake, is in control of the “train set”. The man from Blackberry should just have acknowledged it with something like, “Well, they’ve clearly been smart with their marketing and advertising…” but then bridged to say, “…but we think we’re ahead of them with the Blackberry 10, specifically the because of the way our customers can now…..”
Raspberry #6: He failed to give examples. This is what brings messages alive. It’s no good saying, “It’s unique and different” if you don’t explain how. He may argue that was because the actual launch was later in the day and he didn’t want to give anything away, but he could surely have said more than he did, instead of teasing millions of viewers, who were none the wiser about the phone’s key differences.
Oh, and one more thing, Mr Bates should remember that for these audiences, a platform is something you stand on as you wait for a train. Keep such talk for What Mobile magazine if you don’t want to hit the buffers.
So in just two prime time interviews, Mr Blackberry managed to slip on numerous banana skins, none of them laid by the journalists.
Thanks to those servings, he’s left media trainers like us with a peach of a case study.