Experts in Survey Criticize Samsung’s Handling of Galaxy Note7 Crisis

Thom Weidlich 12.22.16


A communications professor at the University of Georgia in Athens surveyed a group of crisis communicators from around the globe and found mostly negative reactions to Samsung’s handling of its Galaxy Note7 crisis. That was the one, you’ll recall, in which the South Korean company had to take the smartphone off the market because it kept exploding and catching on fire. The experts mention some best practices that are good to keep in mind.

Bryan Reber, professor of crisis communication leadership at the University of Georgia’s journalism school, got responses from crisis professionals in 22 countries. According to a write-up, seven in 10 said “Samsung did not use appropriate communication channels when relaying information about the crisis.” The (unnamed) experts also said Samsung failed to manage the information early on, to provide relevant information to its customers, and to express sympathy. A majority of the respondents also said Samsung didn’t take responsibility for the crisis.

We too have written about the Samsung situation and in fact included it in our annual survey as one of the worst crisis communications responses of the year.

The University of Georgia write-up includes a number of quotes from the experts that stand as good lessons in Crisis 101. Here are a few:

  • From Canada: “Get all the bad news out at once … don’t have a slow trickle.”
  • From the United Kingdom: “Use in-country spokespeople to convey concern and empathy and add a human touch.”
  • From New York: “Express safety and customer satisfaction over regulatory protocols as the reason for action.”

Finally, Reber himself had a comment that underscored just what a difficult crisis it was. “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,” he said.

Photo Credit: Samsung