Building Brand Ambassadors

This article accompanies A Dynamic Duo

Wednesday, March 6, 2013
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Once the hottest commodity in the mobile device marketplace, BlackBerry Ltd. (formerly Research in Motion Ltd.), has watched its market share steadily erode over the past five years, as Apple's iPhone and devices powered by Google's Android system erased BlackBerry's commanding lead. But a joint HR-marketing initiative launched in 2009 may still shine a ray of hope for the troubled company, as it struggles to find creative new ways to convert nonbelievers into BlackBerry users.

When BlackBerry's talent-solutions team first reached out to its marketing team, its goal was to ensure that all brand messaging, both internal and external, was aligned. But it was an unexpected outcome of the partnership that has proven especially beneficial, according to Mary Eckenrod, vice president of global talent solutions.

While conducting a series of employee focus groups, it became evident that HR was not taking full advantage of opportunities to turn employees into brand ambassadors. Each time a new BlackBerry was introduced, workers were handed one and told to "have fun!" but nothing was being done to train them on the devices' features. If employees were asked about their BlackBerrys while on a plane, at a party or elsewhere, BlackBerry couldn't be confident they could accurately articulate all the features and capabilities its products had to offer.

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Working with her "marketing buddies," Eckenrod's talent solutions team created Talk BlackBerry, a series of short e-learning modules, available on Learn@RIM, the company's learning portal, beginning in July 2011. Marketing helped Eckenrod's team understand the core messages relevant to each offering and present them in a way consistent with BlackBerry's external messaging. The benefits of this partnership are most definitely two-fold: HR is able to more effectively train the workforce, while marketing gains an army of brand ambassadors ready to espouse the virtues of BlackBerry products and services to anyone who cares to listen.

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