October 14, 2013
By David B. Fogel, Ph.D.
On October 14, 2013, BlackBerry sent an open letter to its customers in an attempt to reassure them and let them know that they could "continue to count on" Blackberry. The full text of the letter is available here.
Using EffectCheck to examine the lexical impact of the chosen words and phrases shows (Figure 1), under the heading of Request Letters, that the overall impact is high in confidence, but also a bit high in anxiety and hostility. It's seems unlikely that those qualities were desired.
Word cloud analysis shows priming effects on anxiety from the word "doubt," (Figure 2) which was presumably exactly what the message was intended to alleviate. The message relied repeatedly on the use of double negatives, such as "These are no doubt challenging times" and "we don't underestimate," which could have instead been crafted as "We are in a dynamic marketplace" and "we fully recognize." These would have provided greater lexical confidence while reducing evoked anxiety. In addition, using the word "user" to describe a "customer" (or better yet, a "valued customer") is difficult to explain in a letter like this.
The close of the letter is very strong. "You trust your BlackBerry to deliver your most important messages, so trust us when we deliver one of our own: You can continue to count on us." It evokes high confidence and compassion.
On a personal note, I have been a BlackBerry proponent for many years but recently moved to the Samsung Galaxy. There are days I miss my BlackBerry. I do agree when they write that they "continue to offer the best mobile typing experience...." I hope that their future public communications can be constructed to evoke more empathy and less doubt, which had to have been the point of this communication all along.>
Figure 1. Overall EffectCheck® assessment of BlackBerry letter to its customers.
Figure 2. EffectCheck WordCloud showing priming effects on anxiety.