The value of PR…just ask RIM

Many communicators have a hard time explaining the value of public relations – especially in issues management where much of the work is behind the scenes, never seeing the light of day. However, the recent troubles of RIM serve as a great example of what happens when PR is not involved in a crisis.

Last week, Blackberry users around the globe shook their devices in frustration hoping to wake them up from what seemed to be a deep slumber. Sadly, no amount of shaking or cursing would get their inbox to start working again. This was due to. Hmm I’m not really sure what it was due to.

Why? Because RIM wasn’t talking. That’s right – during a major user issue of a company fighting to stay alive, the executives chose not to communicate. Never a good idea. The first rule of issues management is – be open, honest and transparent. Rule #2 – Provide updates in a timely manner. Finally, Rule #3 – Admit when you don’t have answers but commit to communicating answers when you have them versus waiting until the problem is resolved to communicate.

In contrast to RIM, Apple has done an amazing job communicating to its users. Every day when I turn on my imac, my home webpage is Apple, letting me know about a new product or service. And when there was some criticism about dropped calls on the iphone, Steve Jobs personally explained the problem – not only on the iphone but also on competitors’ products.

Hopefully RIM will learn from this experience on the value of PR, before trust in the company further declines in the eyes of consumers.