October 14th, 2016
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and TODAY show host Billy Bush are in the proverbial hot seat this week. The flagship smartphone has been “permanently discontinued” and the television anchor suspended. Throw in presidential election debate shenanigans, and there was no shortage of material for cable news networks and Saturday Night Live.
As if these PR snafus don’t provide enough fodder, Donald and Hillary continue their race to the bottom campaigns – poking at each other’s improprieties and indiscretions.
Talk about PR nightmares and tarnished reputations.
Despite the impending recall of at least 2.5 million devices, Samsung is in a pickle. The company mishandled the exploding phone situation by not collaborating with the Consumer Product Safety Commission early on. This only delayed the inevitable – a PR crisis – and tarnished the company’s brand, let alone it’s market valuation, which dropped by $17 billion in one day.
The near-term nightmare of the recall is nothing compared to the perpetual stigma of the “emblazoned” Note 7 being infamously noted as the “DeSoto” of smartphones.
During a crisis, the PR playbook calls for early acknowledgement of the situation. Trust has been broken and transparency is key. You need to address the issue and stay in front of it by communicating early and often. Acting fast can be the difference on how your brand will be perceived, remembered or forgotten altogether.
Billy Bush is in a different PR situation, hence the reason why he lawyered up and engaged a PR firm to salvage his reputation. While he has yet to be terminated by NBC as a result of his involvement in the infamous Access Hollywood conversation with Trump 11 years ago, Bush’s celebrity status has been significantly tarnished. The “locker room talk” put him in an awkward position. According to his legal counsel, rebuking Donald’s lewd comments would have gotten him fired. Being complicit in the conversation has made him toxic. Who will hire him now?
According to his advisors, going on the offensive is the best option to prove he was in a no-win situation, thus restoring his professional reputation and personal brand.
And then there is the Donald. For him, its business as usual. Whether he wins or loses in November, Trump is the king of all media. He will continue to dominate the headlines, good, bad or indifferent.