In litigation PR, it’s critical to have a holding statement ready to go
if when lawsuits are filed against your company or client. ”We are reviewing the allegations … We will respond accordingly … Stay tuned for more …” You get the drift. The idea is to buy time until your next move in the court of public opinion.
But, what you should never do is make flatly absurd claims. And that’s what Research In Motion (RIM) has done, per its crisis du jour (how much can one company stand, really?), this time with its new operating system dubbed “BBX.” RIM was hoping the new platform would help it usher past recent troubles of global services outages, perhaps to change the media narrative to a positive one — particularly given the major media flop resulting from its PlayBook tablet.
Only problem? A software maker called BASIS International claims they have a valid trademark going back decades for the name BBX. RIM‘s response? “[W]e do not believe the marks are confusing, particularly since our respective companies are in different lines of business.”
You’re both companies that develop software… so it does stretch credulity to argue you’re engaged in a different line of business. And that illustrates the continued problem with RIM‘s, er, playbook when it comes to crisis PR. The company routinely responds in off-handed fashion to each of its problems, whether it’s the CEO storming out of an interview, or providing free kitschy game apps to apologize for services outages. Each reaction seems to lack any linear link to the problem at hand.
And, this latest example of litigation public relations going past the boundaries of sensibility does RIM no favors. Remember: in litigation PR, the first response must help bide time, and be in touch with reality. If you can’t accomplish both those goals, back to the drawing board for you.