Fighting Reputation Smears

July 08, 2014

Fighting Reputation Smears

An article in PRWeek alerted me to a new and maybe not so new tactic in reputation defense. BlackBerry, the mobile smartphone company, described on its blog its decision to strike back at misleading and misinformed rumors and facts about the company.  The site – Blackberry Fact Check (#BBFactCheck) —  was introduced on Twitter and according to their spokesperson was done to get the facts straight for once since sensationalized reports and competitors were making the rounds to incite “fear, uncertainty, and doubt” about the brand and its transformation. Here is how BlackBerry framed the inaugural fact check site on their blog: 

BlackBerry has been in the limelight for many reasons, with people talking about everything from the unmatched reputation of our security to the latest device rumors to our vision for the Internet of Things. We expect this; we know we’re one of the most watched brands out there and our transformation is on public display.

As we’ve been working through this transition, there have been many vocal voices from competitors trying to incite fear, uncertainty and doubt about BlackBerry. In doing so, sensationalized reports surrounding our viability and misperceptions about our product portfolio have crowded the airwaves.

 Given this environment, we must fight back. And BlackBerry’s best offense is to present the facts.

 Today we are launching the BlackBerry Fact Check Portal, a place for us to hold our competitors accountable for what they say, when what they say is wrong. We’ll provide evidence that BlackBerry continues to be a leader in mobile, and we’ll expose “smoke and mirrors” marketing tactics by competitors.

 This Portal will be your one-stop reference for all things #BBFactCheck. We’ll also bring you content that you can’t find anywhere else and highlight the news, insights and stats that you can’t miss. From mobility management to messaging, devices to security, we will make sure that you get the real story.

 The BlackBerry Fact Check Portal is a two-way platform – so if you see a work of fiction from one of our competitors, we want to hear about it. Tell us about it here and make sure you frequent the Portal for the latest in our fight for the facts.

This is an interesting example of a company fighting back at reputation assailants and trying to win the reputation war by taking control of the conversation or at least being part of it. I discussed these types of reputational tactics and strategies in my article on Reputation Warfare. Years earlier, companies would employ this type of rapid response mechanism to offset rumors or establish a designated area on their website for combating myths and rumors. We even saw President Barack Obama do the same. This is, however, one of the newer digital forms of striking back and protecting enterprise reputation. We will watch and see how it fares.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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