RIM CEO apologizes for service outage

NEW YORK: Research In Motion (RIM) boosted its customer communications efforts on Thursday, following widespread outages and disruptions to its BlackBerry service this week.

NEW YORK: Research In Motion (RIM) boosted its customer communications efforts on Thursday, following widespread outages and disruptions to its BlackBerry service this week.

Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis extended an apology to customers on Thursday morning via a video clip on RIM's corporate website, saying normal service had begun to return in Europe, the Middle East, India, and Africa.

"We know that you want to hear more from us, and we're working to update you more frequently through our websites and social media channels as we gather more information," he said.

The company held a conference call a few hours later to say full service was restored worldwide. However, Co-CEO Jim Balsillie said on the call that the company had no details about compensation for its customers.

Tenille Kennedy, chief spokesperson for RIM, told PRWeek via email that “right now we're focused on ensuring customers have information about the restoration of our service, and all our media-relations energy is being devoted to this effort."

Brodeur Partners handles the company's media relations, and RIM works with Edelman on social media and Razorfish on digital marketing. In August, PRWeek UK reported that RIM held initial meetings with a number of agencies, with the possibility of holding a full pitch for a new digital shop. 

BlackBerry also works with Harrison & Shirftman, a Ketchum boutique firm, on celebrity marketing, lifestyle PR, and special events.

Since disruptions began on Monday, RIM has issued numerous updates online via a designated "BlackBerry Service Update" page. It has also answered inquiries from customers using the @BlackBerryHelp Twitter handle.

The company also hosted a press conference on Wednesday, where Kennedy and CTO David Yach said the cause of the outages was a failure at RIM's European data center. They said at the time that teams were working “around the clock” but that a service timeline was unknown.

Michael Bayer, head of Cohn & Wolfe's North American corporate practice, defended RIM for not immediately addressing compensation plans, but said the company should respond with a charitable act.

"They did the right thing by largely ignoring those complaints until the system was restored," he said. "Now, however, they should use this episode as an opportunity. Rather than giving customers a credit on their bill, why not make a giant donation to a global charity in the name of all BlackBerry users around the world?"

RIM could follow that with public apologies from its employees, such as sales reps, engineers, and technicians to make amends, said Bayer.

"This is an opportunity for RIM to do something bold," he said. “A typical corporate apology will only make the situation worse."

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