By: Paige Sander
A lot of major corporations are having tough weeks in the media and with their publics. Samsung, Blue Bell, Frontier Communications and Exxon are all in unique situations at the moment and observing the way each brand is handling their communication is really educational. It’s much easier to point out mistakes when you aren’t working internally within the company, but it is a great way to learn good and bad ideas when it comes to communicating under pressure.
Samsung is undoubtedly under the most heat right now, as they scramble to deal with the fallout of their brand new phone, the Note 7. The battery in these phones are getting overheated and actually exploding randomly in customer’s possession. Over 70 explosions have been reported so far and one Florida man is even suing due to the severity of his leg burns. With all of this chaos surrounding their company, you’d think Samsung would be on top of their public crisis communication, but it has almost been the complete opposite. Their concerns have been focused on replacement phones and uninterrupted revenue, rather than customer safety. Samsung hasn’t been engaging users on Twitter and as everyone has observed, social media has taken it upon themselves to speak for Samsung.
By freezing up and not answering media customer complaints, but instead rushing exchange programs with phones that were still experiencing issues, I personally think Samsung is going to lose a lot of customer trust due to their lack of communication.
Blue Bell on the other hand still seems to be experiencing bad PR invincibility as a second Listeria scare caused them to voluntarily recall all ice cream flavors containing raw cookie dough. Despite the first wave of Listeria actually resulting in the death of several individuals, customers were begging for their Blue Bell to come back on shelves and this time seemed no different. The one interesting thing that they seemed to strategically place, was the release of their new camouflage ice cream flavor. Releasing a ‘new’ flavor (when in reality it’s the combination of three previously existing flavors) to distract from the recall of two other flavors was a smart and effective move. They answered every single social media inquiry with a pre-written response, but again, customers didn’t seem to mind. The general tone of tweets was humorous and many users blatantly stated they would continue to eat Blue Bell. The tweets below were people’s actual responses to Blue Bell’s tweet announcing the recall.
All businesses will eventually experience some bad press or find themselves in a tough communication situation. These companies have taught me that keeping publics fully informed and maintaining completely open, genuine communication will result in the least damage.