Samsung should expect teasing, but reputation may not go down in flames long-term

Samsung's decision to stop sales of its apparently flammable Galaxy Note 7, and warning to consumers that they should switch the phone off, may prove little more than an embarrassing blip, PRs suggest.

An earlier version of the Samsung Galaxy Note (© Kārlis Dambrāns via Flickr)

"Samsung was praised for its "bold" decision to recall the phone last month, but now finds itself in hot water again over reports of the replacement phone catching fire.

The crisis response is being led by FleishmanHillard, which has handled corporate work for Samsung for several years. The company is working to update its message to users - the below tweet on the @SamsungUK Twitter feed from 19 September was deleted this morning.

With the story leading the news agenda in the UK and elsewhere, and Samsung being accused of dishonesty over the initial recall process, the company's reputation is clearly in jeopardy.

Ben Bajarin, director of consumer tech at market intelligence firm Creative Strategies in the US and a Time magazine columnist, told BBC Radio 5 Live this morning: "There's no question that this is going to cause question's in consumers' minds over the brand itself - I think time will tell, I think we'll need anywhere from four to six months to really tell how bad this is for the brand at large, but that's definitely a concern... the degree to which this affects their brand as a whole."

However, Mike Sottak, EMEA managing director at tech specialist The Hoffman Agency, said: "Consumers are fickle but forgiving if they believe the company is acting in their best interests. That said, there are so many options for mobile phones on the market, there is very little friction to stand in the way of switching brands."

PR professionals on Twitter sided with the earlier part of Hoffman's assertion, that consumers would not be likely to be put off Samsung by the news.

If nothing else, Samsung can be sure that it will endure a lot of teasing in the short term, with a number of memes doing the rounds on social media:

It may also entrench views of one PR professional who has been particularly enthusiastic about his new (non-Samsung) phone:

Note: Shortly after publication of this story, Samsung announced it was permenantly scrapping the Galaxy Note 7 on the ground of consumer safety. It was reported that investors wiped $19bn off the market value of Samsung Electronics today amid fears that the impact of spiralling safety issues with its smartphone could spread to its other products.

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