Image courtesy of flickr user John Biehler

Samsung: A PR disaster or operational crisis?

I was listening to a news report this morning that was talking about the problems that Samsung are having with the Galaxy Note 7. Towards the end of the article the reporter uttered the immortal phrase ‘this is a PR disaster for Samsung’. It is a phrase used a lot to describe something that has gone wrong for a business or organisation. But is it accurate?

In the case of Samsung while the fact that the phone has a problem and then gets recalled and then the new version has a problem clearly is going to affect the reputation. It has already affected the share price during the day. But I don’t think this is the biggest failure or disaster for the company. The real issue is that it is a business disaster that has happened. This is a product failure and for me that has to be the biggest issue.

Reporters love to claim something is a PR disaster but with the latest one I believe they have inaccurately labelled it. If this was a PR disaster there would have been no problem with the phone but this would have failed to be communicated to the buying public.

As communicators there is a positive element to the highlighting of an issue being a PR disaster. Firstly, it is recognition that the reputation of an organisation or business is one of the most important things. They can survive or disappear depending on how the reputation is handled. Secondly, it means when there is a problem or something goes wrong communication and PR has to be at the forefront. Finally, it is a way that PR gets highlighted on the national and international media.

Samsung are just the latest company having operational problems. The way out of it will be to sort the technical issues and provide a reliable product. Decisive action is always an essential to recovery. If that is in place then the PR activity can swing into action and start to rebuild the reputation.

Image courtesy of flickr user John Biehler

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Crisis comms, FCIPR. FPRCA, PRCA trainer, Chartered Assessor. Former PRCA Council chair. Women in PR ambassador.

  1. From the third-hand analysis avaialable to those of us not directly connected to this crisis, I’d say it was not a PR crisis. Even the drop in share price, presumed delay in a replacement, loss if revenue and increased competitor pressure are more in the nature if expected consequences than “bad PR.” It will be interesting to see how the company explains the detail of the technical reasons for the fires, how the resolve these technical flaws, and rebuild confidence in the brand.

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