Will GoPro come crashing down?

GoPro blasted onto the scene in one of the earliest and most successful interaction social media marketing campaigns. It dared users to do amazing things and send in their videos or post them on YouTube. Users did, thousands upon thousands of them.

For a time, it appeared that GoPro would rule the prosumer video market forever. The brand made superstars of YouTube personalities and allowed anyone to establish a following for their video-based antics and adventures.

But the party could not last forever. These days the online video adventure market is flush with content coming from all directions. The brand presence is diluted with personalities instead of product placement. At GoPro, that translates to huge losses, layoffs, scaling back and a total PR strategy shift.

The first step in the attempt to staunch the bleeding came with a product line reduction. From umpteen models to just three choices. That worked a bit. After all, they were built on selling the experience, not the bells and whistles. Consumers responded, but the market just yawned. Stock continued to fall, nearly 90 percent from their top mark in Q3 2014.

The company is still hemorrhaging cash – $34 million in the last quarter alone. Sales are abysmal, sticking the company with nearly $60 million in unused and unsold merch. Officials said they are “concerned” and they should be. But is there hope, or is GoPro doomed.

Well, there’s the obvious: people still love having fun, and they love to tape themselves having fun. They love even more for strangers to share that fun online. So, no danger of losing an audience if they play their cards right. Sure, more people are using their smartphones, and a life-proof case for an iPhone is much cheaper than a new GoPro. But there are ways around that. Better quality, better options, the basic fact that replacing a GoPro is cheaper than replacing a smartphone if anything goes wrong.

But the biggest issue is one GoPro execs seem to understand. Customers don’t like the offload features offered by GoPro. Some complain it’s tough to get those videos off their cameras. Much tougher than it is to get them off DSLRs and smartphones. Consumers want to be able to easily edit and share their videos, as fast and simple as possible. That desire makes up for the gap in quality.

So, they understand the problem. But can they fix it? Can GoPro find another simply genius PR program to rocket them back into the black? This will be interesting to watch.

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of New York PR Firm 5W Public Relations. 5WPR is headquartered in NYC, with offices in Denver and Los Angeles.

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