Week 6 – Public Relations: Is Samsung underestimating the Internet?

By Cristina Melchior

After hundreds reported incidents of overheating smartphones worldwide, Samsung made the unprecedented decision to recall every single one of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphones sold. The company worked with government agencies and cellular carriers around the world to ask all users to shut down their phones and provide refunds to the smartphones that spontaneously burst into flames. Samsung is not sure why the new batteries caught fire, but the damage those phones can cause makes the Note 7 dangerous.

In this case, Samsung’s reaction was too late. Note 7 battery explosions were catch alive on camera and posted on YouTube. Social media alerted people to turn off their Note 7 or even give up buying one if that was the intention. For days the Explosions of Note 7 were one of the main subjects of the Internet. Consumers were not sure if it was only the Note 7 or if others Samsung’s cellular also had battery problems. The panic was spread among the consumers.

This case illustrates how the Internet can be an enemy of Public Relations industry. Once the crisis of Galaxy Note 7 hit the Internet, it couldn’t be contained. In the absence of information that should be supplied by the manufacturer, Samsung allowed rumors to evolve and consumers to connect sharing inaccurate information. It’s hard to know if Samsung didn’t have time to review the problem or if it was a simple underestimation of internet power.

On the one hand, it’s soon to know how drastically this crisis will impact the company’s reputation. On the other hand, Samsung’s case works as homework for industries learn to manage Public Relations in times of the internet.

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