Guest Column: Is Samsung Passing the Buck to Customers?

Main Note 10.1 N8013 h front 9 150x150 Guest Column: Is Samsung Passing the Buck to Customers?

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for Samsung.

What do you say when a jury takes $1 billion out of your pocket and hands it to your arch rival (while calling you a big, fat copycat)? If you’re Samsung, the answer is, tell your customers you may be raising their prices. Samsung declared last Friday’s Apple verdict a “loss for the American consumer” and said it will lead to “potentially higher prices.” Is that any way to preserve a reputation?

Compare that to the sharp, smart statement from Apple: “We make these products to delight our customers, not for our competitors to flagrantly copy.”

Samsung has built a well-deserved brand as one of the world’s great tech innovators. Yet of late, even when it wins in court, it loses. Just last month, a UK High Court found that Samsung couldn’t have infringed on Apple’s patents, because Samsung’s products “are not as cool.” Not good.

But frightening your customer base by warning of higher prices is unlikely to turn the tide. Samsung would be better served to hew more closely in its public statements to the legal positions it is presenting in court–in particular, that the inventions claimed in Apple’s patents have been around for years and were not actually developed by Apple.

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for Samsung. Scare tactics, especially of higher prices in economically challenging times, are unlikely to win hearts and minds. Better to use the forum to carefully explain one’s patent law positions.

The PR Takeaway: Sometimes the PR solution is right under your nose. Samsung’s business partner, Google, responded to the verdict by emphasizing how “the mobile industry is moving fast, and all players, including newcomers, are building upon ideas that have been around for decades.” This is essentially the patent law defense of “anticipation.” In this case, coordinating better with its legal team and staying on patent law message might have been the easier route and ultimately more reassuring than issuing stern warnings about higher prices and future lack of innovation.

Is Samsung right to be honest with customers about impending higher prices, or is this adding insult to their own injury? Give us your PR Verdict!

What Will We Remember Silvio Berlusconi For?

Berlusconi2 What Will We Remember Silvio Berlusconi For?

The PR Verdict: “F” for Berlusconi and his hope of imparting a political legacy.

Been to any good parties lately? Is anyone feeling more than a hint of envy and disappointment at not having been invited to Silvio Berlusconi’s rather extravagant soirees, currently being described in excruciating detail in an Italian court.

The former Premier of Italy is on trial for allegedly paying a 17-year-old Moroccan girl for sex (left), then using his influence in 2010 to cover it up.  He has denied the charges but details emerge daily about the parties he was either hosting or attending.  The key finding?  His entertaining style was more Girls Gone Wild than formal state dinners.

Yesterday’s revelation that the fetes involved female guests allegedly dressing as nuns and stripping for titillated guests will ensure this is what Berlusconi is remembered for.  His political legacy has now become permanently entwined with jokes about bunga-bunga, strippers nuns and Sister Act.

The PR Verdict: “F” for Berlusconi and his hope of imparting a political legacy.  These headlines will define his premiership.

PR Takeaway: Anecdotes kill reputations faster than any long-winded critical evaluation.  To permanently damage a person’s reputation all that is needed is a simple incident that can be forever used by detractors as shorthand for a wider moral failing.   Clinton had it with cigars, John Edwards had it with $500 haircuts, while corporate tycoons had it with ice sculptures looking like centurions and $6000 dollar shower curtains.  The anecdote is usually the opening paragraph to any story.  It’s an uphill and often unsuccessful battle to change the perception from then on.

To read more click here and here.

What’s your PR Verdict?

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