Samsung has done a good job pushing past the major Galaxy handset public relations disaster plaguing the company back in 2016. It took most of 2017, but it seems like consumers are once again on good terms with Apple’s biggest rival in the smartphone market. This doesn’t mean everything's rosy at Samsung.
Once again, the company struggles with negative headlines. This time the bad press is connected with the Olympics, so you know people are reading it.
According to multiple media outlets, Samsung is stuck in the center of a political fight between South Korea and Iran. This issue is putting a cloud over what should be a big win for Samsung, as its home country is hosting the Winter Olympic Games.
The Iranian Olympic Committee says its athletes were not initially allowed to participate in a giveaway of "special edition" Galaxy Note 8 phones. These phones were distributed to the athletes as part of a promotion for both Samsung — and the games.
Mahmoud Abdollahi, spokesman for the Iranian Olympic Committee, explains how, according to him, his country’s athletes were initially snubbed, "The athletes didn't receive phones when they arrived in [South] Korea. The reason given was because of sanctions . . ."
That complaint could have been the end of it, allowing the Koreans to decide whether or not to press the issue. But, turns out, it wasn’t. Iran demanded a public apology, warning Korean officials that this embarrassment could lead to "dire negative consequences."
Subsequently, the four Iranian athletes at the games were given phones. Once again, it could have ended there, but Iran was not about to let it go. Abdollahi explained, "The issue is that Iranian athletes were not treated equally, and this goes against the spirit of the games . . . "
When asked about the issue, the PyeongChang Organizing Committee did not comment, instead telling reporters to direct any inquiries to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In response, the IOC simply stated it would be providing phones to all participating athletes, calling the phones "essential" for communication at the games, "These phones contain essential logistical and competition information . . . "
What will happen to the phones after the games? Iranian athletes will be allowed to keep them, according to the IOC. North Korean athletes, however, will be expected to return the handsets before heading home. So, maybe, relations between the two long-time adversaries are not quite as cozy as recent news suggests.
Meanwhile, Samsung just wants to get its name out of all this political conflict. The company does big business in Iran, as well as other nations friendly to the Mideastern nation, and it certainly does not want to lose business over a social miscue of this nature.
Ronn Torossian is one of America’s foremost Public Relations executives as founder/CEO of 5WPR, a leading independent public relations Agency. The firm was honored as PR Firm of the Year by The American Business Awards, and has been named to the Inc. 500 List. Torossian is author of the best-selling "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations." For more of Ronn Torossian's reports, Go Here Now.
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