Guess Samsung is a lot more stressed out than we thought. Here’s what happened when we suggested that Samsung might be the manufacturer of a pair of headphones that exploded.
Pretty much every few months, a PR person melts down on us. And usually the reason is that the company they represent is pissed off that a story is going horribly wrong. We’ve had people phone-bomb, email-bomb, threaten, harass, and even cry on a voicemail because they didn’t like what we’ve written.
No, I’m not going to upload that voicemail for everyone to hear. But all of this stuff supports my feeling that PR people are often a giant waste of money and time. But that’s another post entirely.
This time, the super-stressed out company turns out to be Samsung. And after a pair of headphones unfortunately exploded on an international flight, Samsung naturally became pretty defensive.
I should clarify that as of right now, we’re not sure who manufactured those headphones. And, we may never know thanks to a pretty cagey Australian Transport Safety Bureau (the flight landed in Melbourne). But after merely stating that Samsung was suspected of manufacturing said exploding headphones, the company went ballistic on us.
Actually, here’s what DMN wrote (full article here):
“Who’s responsible for a pair of exploding headphones on a recent international flight? Samsung’s chronic smartphone explosions are making it a top suspect. (Warning: graphic images).”
Enter Samsung’s PR attack dog: Philip Berne. His title is ‘PR Manager, Technical Media | Samsung Electronics America,’ and he immediately proceeded to rip us a brand-new one for making Samsung a suspect in this case.
“I see [DMN writer Daniel Sanchez] says ‘But speculation is understandably surrounding Samsung, thanks to a rash of battery explosions tied to its Note 7.’ What speculation exactly?”
I suggested that as PR person, he might want to get in front of the heavy speculation surrounding Samsung. Especially since we’d seen endless comments across social media tying this back to them. Mistake number one.
“Why would we need to get out in front of anything? Devices explode. Most of them by far are not Samsung devices. Do you really think Samsung has a responsibility to comment on every single device in the world that explodes? That’s unfathomable. The Australian authorities have specifically declined to comment on the make or brand of the device. That is my confirmation that you have no evidence that this is us.”
Then I suggested that as PR person, he just give me Samsung’s official statement on the matter. Mistake number two.
“Samsung may have an idea. I personally do not. I need to ask a chain of people for this information, and many of them live on the other side of the world. I’m with Samsung Electronics America. That is the “sea” in my “sea.samsung.com” email address. You understand the difference between saying “Samsung has no idea” and asking an individual representative for an answer, right?”
Oh, one last ‘explosion’ before the thread ended, after being accused of fabricating, fake news, and killing my first born for money.
“I have forwarded this entire email chain to our Corporate Communications team and instructed my colleagues here that your site is not a serious or ethical site, and we would not benefit from working with you.”
So, no more emails from this guy?
Anyway, I’m not saying publications and writers are easy to deal with, by any stretch. But the whole point of a media representative (if you decide to have one) is to deal with those people. And if you don’t want to deal with them, fine. But that’s what you’re paying a PR person for. So if that’s not happening, you either need a new PR person, or don’t really need PR at all.