Samsung streamlines its global PR with Edelman

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA: Samsung has consolidated its global corporate and crisis communications under Edelman, making it the electronic company's first global AOR.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA: Samsung has consolidated its global corporate and crisis communications under Edelman, making it the electronic company's first global AOR. It has worked with the firm since 1992.

James Chung, senior PR manager at Samsung, said the company's headquarters issued an RFP late last year to streamline its global PR function. The objective was to foster more efficiency in performance, greater quality control, and consistency in execution.

“My major concern is having a single message [that is reaching] key journalists and media,” he explained.

Previously, Samsung split corporate communications under Edelman and Bite UK, which handled more pan-Europe communications. Multiple regional agencies had handled crisis communications, but now it will be centralized with Edelman.

Chung said the company would work with Edelman to adapt to the rapidly shifting media environment. The firm will also help centralize crisis communications and develop key messages to build brand goodwill.

Samsung's first project with Edelman is an effort to map the next steps in the evolution of its corporate identity.

“Samsung has two new CEOs and... is re-benchmarking its PR functions,” Chung noted. “We're trying to differentiate our corporate identity in the electronics space, so we really need to prioritize our corporate key messages to the right audiences... and establish a leadership position within the industry.”

Bret Walrath, EVP at Edelman, said Samsung enjoyed much growth from 1998 to 2006 as a digital-market leader. But now that digital-convergence products are more common, it needs to take a new track.

“The messaging that drove the brand growth began to diminish in its currency and impact,” he said. “They are gearing up for a new cycle of corporate evolution. They want to move from brand awareness– which they've achieved – to brand preference, then brand loyalty.”

Samsung's primary corporate communications mission is to identify the successor to “leader of the digital convergence revolution,” a position the company has previously been identified with, Walrath added.

“It's very important to note that the Samsung corporate communications team – not Edelman – is leading this multi-dimensional effort,” he noted. “Edelman is supporting one element of it by benchmarking the company's current corporate communications positioning against global best standards.”

Even so, Walrath said Edelman's relationship with Samsung will now become more consultative, in addition to helping execute PR plans.

“They've reached a point in their evolution as a multinational that they truly want global positioning in ways that were handled more on an ad hoc basis,” he explained. “They want to be a much-loved brand.”

Weber Shandwick and Burson-Marsteller also pitched for the account along with Edelman and Bite UK, according to industry sources.

Because of the way that Samsung is structured, its various regional headquarters will continue to work with other firms for geographic efforts, Chung noted. Clive Armitage, CEO of Bite Communications, said Bite UK continues to be retained by Samsung's European headquarters, despite losing out on the global account.

WS continues to work for Samsung regionally in Germany, the UK, and Australia, according to the firm. And Burson continues to support Samsung's Olympic sponsorship, the agency said. MWW Group, AOR for the company's North American regional headquarters, was not affected by the review, nor did it pitch.

Samsung's headquarters recently underwent a corporate restructuring, but Chung contends the reorganization did not have an impact on its agency selection.

Updated February 27, 2009, 2:37pm

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