RIM’s Stephen Bates – disaster in motion on BBC 5 live

If you’re a business launching a make or break product, a prime time national radio interview is a golden opportunity. Unfortunately, Research in Motion (RIM) European boss Stephen Bates completely blew it on BBC 5 live breakfast today.

He was on to explain BlackBerry 10, the long-delayed new operating system designed to compete with hugely successful Apple and Android smartphones. Yet he was unable to give a single reason to buy a BlackBerry – criminal given the importance of today’s launch.

We learned that BlackBerry was a unique proposition – whatever that means. We learned that RIM was taking the essence of the BlackBerry experience and moving it forward. Apparently BlackBerry 10 gives users a new and unique experience – though we still have no idea what that means.

Worst of all, he completely ignored the question ‘What did you learn from the iPhone?’ Repeatedly. Nicky Campbell mocked Bates: ‘It sounds like you’re reading from a press release’. Yet Bates could have turned that most predictable question to his advantage: ‘The iPhone has had a big impact, but BlackBerry 10 is better for consumers and businesses because it does X, Y and Z’.

Stephen Bates’ woeful performance – repeated on BBC TV’s Breakfast – underlines why business leaders must be able to tell their story simply and convincingly. I can’t imagine Bates speaking such gobbledegook at home. So why do so in a radio interview?

He must have expected questions about BlackBerry’s fall from grace and the rise of the iPhone and Android. He had a perfect chance to answer those questions honestly followed by a straightforward explanation of why the BlackBerry is still a must-have device that will give Apple and Samsung a run for their money.

His failure to take that opportunity is baffling.

PS: RIM has a history of disastrous PR. Former CEO Mike Lazaridis stormed out of an interview with BBC’s Rory-Cellan Jones two years ago. The company horribly mishandled its service failure in October 2011. It needs some decent PR direction before it’s too late.

4 thoughts on “RIM’s Stephen Bates – disaster in motion on BBC 5 live

  1. Maybe “he was unable to give a single reason to buy a BlackBerry” because Nicky Campbell kept interrupting him with his inane question. “RIM has a history of disastrous PR”? More like BBC has a history of disastrous interviewers. While idiots like Nicky Campbell might not understand anything besides “iPhone”, Blackberry/RIM’s job isn’t to talk up the iPhone – it’s to talk up its own product. If the BBC can’t deal with that reality then it shouldn’t be interviewing anyone from RIM.

    • Campbell was actually restrained. ‘What have you learned from the iPhone’ is hardly an inane question – Blackberry’s decline has been precipitated by the rise of Apple and Android rivals. Had Bates answered the question with an explanation of why Blackberry is better than its rivals Campbell would have had no reason to repeat the question. Hardly idiotic questioning.

  2. Pingback: BBC 5 Live at 20 | Ertblog

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