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Analyzing Samsung’s Recall Crisis: Experts Agree the Brand’s Response Made Crisis Much Worse

Pr, Marketing, Crisis communications, Crisis management, Public relations, PR crisis, University of Georgia, crisis response, recall crisis, Lambert Edwards & Associates, Samsung crisis, crisis blame, PROI WorldwideFailure to Get Involved Early, Poor Channel Choices Just Fueled a Raging Fire

Samsung’s phone sales experienced a lackluster holiday season, and new research points to a poor crisis response to the brand’s high-profile Galaxy Note7 malfunction issues. Seven in 10 global crisis communication experts with the University of Georgia/PROI Worldwide Crisis Communication Monitor say Samsung, the most popular global electronics brand, did not use appropriate communication channels when relaying information about the crisis surrounding the problematic smartphone. In fact, more than 80 percent of the polled experts placed responsibility for the crisis squarely on the brand itself.

To examine the efficacy of Samsung’s crisis response, the group recorded the responses of 63 crisis communication professionals in 22 countries, 62% of whom were CEO, president, VP or director of their organization. Three out of four (74 percent) respondents said Samsung failed to manage early information and thereby was unable to stay ahead of the crisis. Seventy percent of communicators said Samsung failed to provide relevant information and did not provide information that would help the public understand the crisis. One crisis communicator said a takeaway lesson should be, “Be brave from the beginning—deal with the truth, take bold actions, accept the reality publicly.”

Furthermore, 78 percent of the crisis leaders expect Samsung’s business to be strongly affected by the crisis. “Samsung needed to be more sympathetic to those impacted by these incidents, and proactive in its response and communications,” said Jeff Lambert, president of PR and investor relations firm Lambert, Edwards & Associates and a member of the PROI Worldwide Crisis Communications Monitor, in a news release.

The crisis was exacerbated because it was perceived that Samsung caused it and bears sole responsibility for the crisis and its outcome. “Samsung underestimated the danger involved, especially as it relates to its mobile devices on airplanes,” said a Georgia-based expert.

Nearly two thirds (61 percent) of global crisis experts disagreed with the statement, “Samsung took responsibility as appropriate.” The drip, drip, drip nature of the response allowed the crisis to grow, according to these experts.

“When every time you board a plane, a flight attendant announces that your brand has been banned from flights by a federal regulatory body, you know that your company is in crisis,” said Bryan H. Reber, Ph.D., a professor in crisis communication leadership at the University of Georgia and coordinator of the survey, in the release.

The Crisis Communication Monitor reveals 10 insights or lessons learned from these global experts:

  • “Corporate culture impacts the ability to identify pending crises in a timely fashion.” (Expert from Italy)
  • “Get all the bad news out at once… don’t have a slow trickle.” (Expert from Canada)
  • “Use in-country spokespeople to convey concern and empathy and add a human touch.” (Expert from the United Kingdom)
  • “When in doubt, recall/withdraw the product and test, test, test until you find the solution.” (Expert from Australia)
  • “Provide more information and deliver it quickly, even if it’s negative. Rip the bandage off and heal sooner.” (Expert from Missouri)
  • “Samsung needed to be more sympathetic to those impacted by these incidents, and proactive in its response and communications.” (Expert from Michigan)
  • “Express safety and customer satisfaction over regulatory protocols as the reason for action.” (Expert from New York)
  • Don’t underestimate the problem. “Samsung underestimated the danger involved, especially as it relates to mobile devices on airplanes.” (Expert in Georgia)
  • “Acting promptly and taking responsibility for an issue can help protect a reputation.” (Expert from the United Kingdom)
  • “Preparation is key to successful crisis communication.” (Expert from Germany)

Source: PR Newswire; edited by Richard Carufel

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