Category: Most impactful client recommendations arising from a measurement study

Client/Entering Company: Cision / Samsung

Campaign title: Note 7

Company Name: Samsung


In 2016 Samsung launched flagship smartphones the Galaxy S7 and the Note 7 in the UK. While, from consumer and media perspectives, the former’s success was overshadowed by problems with the Note 7 which led to the phone’s recall and cancellation, Cision had put in place an analysis programme which was flexible enough to allow both Samsung to develop its strategy to target key audiences efficiently and react rapidly to the developing crisis around the Note 7.


In 2016 Samsung wanted to develop local measurement programmes and move away from a single EU-wide measurement process enabling its teams to focus more on content quality in media. In the UK the comms team wanted to demonstrate the impact of a series of successful initiatives including: Olympics sponsorship, a raft of exciting commercial partnerships and the anticipated product launches. However, the fall-out from the Note 7 launch disrupted this plan.

Samsung UK needed a measurement programme that was flexible and could evaluate content relating to multiple products and activities involving several PR agencies. Since much of the activity focused around campaigns, it was important that the solution provided results on a granular level, while also showing how the needle was moving month-on-month.

Cision worked with Samsung UK to develop a measurement framework to align the specific measurement of the campaigns with longer term objectives (see Appendix 1). To focus on what was important the measurement was based around a priority media list targeting Samsung UK’s key audiences.

Metrics included:

  1. Reach and frequency to Samsung’s target audiences
  2. Analysis of sentiment of coverage
  3. Messaging
  4. Open-ended reputation tracking through the addition of ad hoc reputational themes

James Coyle, senior PR manager at Samsung Electronics, explained:“ At Samsung, we needed to focus on the quality of coverage achieved and move away from reporting on coverage volumes. The new brief allows us to report on big successes and results of our proactive campaigns, including the S7 Launch and the Olympics campaign – at a more detailed level than ever before. Our focus is now on message delivery and razor sharp media targeting in order to help us deliver our objectives.”



2016 was an important year for Samsung with launches planned for flagship smartphones the S7 in February followed by the Note 7 in August.

Samsung UK wanted to compare its campaign results with other key players in the industry, in order to establish a benchmark against which it could measure itself against. Cision used competitor data based on comparable product launches, which could then highlight the strengths and weaknesses of Samsung’s campaigns.

‘Millennials’ are an increasingly important demographic for Samsung. For the S7 launch, data from Cision’s UKPulse survey highlighted the proportion of Millennials reached. However the competitive research showed that Apple had experienced more success in reaching this audience.

The UKPulse data was used to identify a list of the publications Millennials read the most – compared with the national average – highlighting titles that would secure a high reach of the target audience. This was then used in the media planning for the upcoming Note 7 launch.

Another learning was to extend the length of campaign in order to stimulate organic coverage discussing the lifecycle of the smartphone following its initial launch. The competitor analysis showed that Apple in particular had success with this strategy.

Samsung announced the Note 7 on August 2, but very quickly issues with the product arose presenting a new challenge for measurement and the Samsung team.

Early reviews were “hugely impressed” by the device (Daily Star Online) with expectations that the product could surpass Apple’s iPhone. However, the first reports of overheating batteries soon appeared. Needing to stay ahead of what was potentially a huge reputational issue, Samsung turned to Cision. In response, the pace of analysis was stepped up, providing Samsung with daily updates on the tone of its coverage.

Cision used open-ended tracking in order to identify reputational issues as they emerged, allowing Samsung and its PR agencies to further mitigate negative coverage.

An end of year report, which investigated the overall issue, was produced and gave Samsung a comparison with other companies which had suffered comparable crises in recent years. The objective was to compare how Samsung performed compared to companies that were in a similar situation, and take away some key learnings from the crisis.



Cision used data from its 2016 UKPulse survey to show how Samsung targeted Millennials with the launch of its S7 smartphone. UKPulse is a representative survey of 10,000 people produced in collaboration with market research company Opinion Matters. The survey asks a variety of questions around demographics, lifestyle attitudinal statements and media consumption. The research enabled Cision to segment Millenials and highlight key titles that they read – this was used to develop a target media list for the upcoming Note 7 launch.

Using data gathered in previous tech industry product launches, Cision compared the results of the S7 campaign with other major players highlighting how the strong presence of spokespeople helped the company to deliver key messages. Some 77% of content featured a spokesperson, while 90% delivered a message.

Media coverage was coded by human analysts rather than relying on automation to capture important nuances in sentiment and message delivery. When reports of overheating batteries in the Note 7 first appeared, it was important to keep the quality of analysis high but it was also essential to provide more rapid feedback to the media team. The coding cycle was sped up so that coverage was analysed every 12 hours. Cision provided daily reports of the media coverage, highlighting different reputational issues and how these were affecting business KPIs such as share price. These were then addressed by Samsung’s communication team, which adapted its strategy as the crisis evolved.

The reaction to the first product recall was particularly important – there was initial strong interest from the media, but Samsung’s fast response in recalling the product meant that the story appeared to be in control – volumes had declined following the initial spike in coverage.

However, despite the initial recall, reports of ‘exploding’ phones continued to appear over the following weeks. Cision tracked new issues raised in the media – speculation surrounding the future of the company’s Mobile Chief, DJ Koh, and reports of further problems with the updated phones, gained traction. Ultimately this culminated in Samsung’s decision to halt the production of the Note 7.

At the end of the media cycle surrounding the failed launch, Cision provided Samsung with a comparison with companies who had managed similar crises in the recent past, including Ikea’s involvement in the horse meat scandal and Microsoft’s challenge around Windows 10 privacy issues (see Appendix 3).

Cision highlighted the length of the crisis, which lasted more than nine weeks, significantly longer than the Ikea and Microsoft equivalents. Cision’s analysis showed that both Ikea and Microsoft had made better use of spokespeople in their response. Spokespeople appeared in a higher proportion of coverage and were more effective at conveying messages. For Samsung the lack of spokespeople meant the company’s message that it would take control of the situation was not delivered. A key recommendation from the UK team was that in future the organisation should utilise regional spokespeople in order to tailor and localise the company’s messages.

While the media analysis had shown that there was considerable negative media coverage as a result of the crisis, it was important to understand whether this had an effect on the overall reputation of the organisation.

Cision ran two surveys of 1,000 respondents with market research company USurv in July 2016 and January 2017. Results highlighted that the events surrounding the Note 7 had overall little impact on the general reputation of the company in the country, which remained strong (see Appendix 4). However the surveys did show that the Millennial age group was the most critical towards Samsung after the Note 7 crisis.


Effectiveness of Assignment

Following Cision’s recommendations to focus on Millennial-relevant titles, Samsung targeted these publications specifically for the launch of the Note 7 smartphone. Two of these – The Guardian and BBC Online – did not generate any coverage for the S7 launch but both published several articles for Note 7. Millennial reach increased to 72% in July and August – a 20 percentage point gain from the S7 campaign result.

Cision demonstrated Samsung had successfully involved spokespeople during the S7 campaign, which helped message delivery and contributed to the positive tone of coverage. After pushing its collaboration with magician Dynamo for the S7 campaign, the firm hired various athletes and comedian Jack Whitehall for its Olympics campaign and continued to promote their participation in the media.

Cision’s analysis during the crisis surrounding the launch of the Note 7 was used at board level influencing company strategy. Results of the daily analysis were discussed every morning at 8am in board meetings and informed the company’s response.

James Coyle, senior PR manager at Samsung Electronics, said:“ On a daily basis we referred to Gorkana’s data in our strategy meetings during the Note7 situation. We closely monitored and tracked media sentiment to give us a picture of the landscape and how certain actions and situations were reported by media. This enabled us to base our strategy on hard evidence rather than gut feel – when managing an issue, this is more crucial than ever.”

New issues appearing within coverage were reviewed and this helped Samsung anticipate an influx of coverage appearing on a particular topic. Overall, the media analysis provided by Cision was used as a barometer for the day showing the emerging trends of media coverage and how this was affecting the company’s share price (see Appendix 3).

Samsung tried to improve the tone of coverage discussing the issue in several ways, using Cision’s recommendations. The company issued an official statement rapidly after the first reports of overheating batteries and a second statement the week after. Initially, the tone of coverage during the first week was slightly negative, as Samsung projected an image showing it would handle the crisis well and react quickly. However, ongoing product defaults continued to generate more coverage and a perceived lack of ownership led to the tone becoming strongly unfavourable.

Despite Cision’s recommendations to involve the company’s spokespeople in the management of the crisis, Samsung focused on the product recall and updates to mitigate the tone of articles. The global strategy of the company was decided in South Korea, where management, for cultural reasons, was reluctant to make public comments on the crisis. In addition, local spokespeople were not encouraged to discuss the issue.

In its end-of-year report, Cision highlighted that Samsung did not manage to involve its spokespeople as much as other companies faced with similar crises. These findings were fed back from the UK to the board in South Korea, and the company is looking at ways to evolve. DJ Koh recently took a more central role in the company’s communications, notably presenting the final findings on the Note 7 batteries in a press conference which gained global attention.

In summing up Samsung UK’s use of measurement James Coyle concluded:
“All of our work needs to deliver results and impact. The Cision system we have in place allows us to constantly evolve our approach to ensure we are tracking, monitoring and evaluating our work to ensure we are doing the right things at the right times. We will continue to use the system to improve the quality of our work.”


After highlighting the strong results Samsung UK achieved for the launch of the S7, the company focused on the announcement of the Note 7. Flexible and responsive measurement allowed for a targeted and strategic response to a global reputational issue.

During the Note 7 crisis, Cision tailored its analysis to help Samsung mitigate the negative coverage generated. Cision was able to identify the new topics appearing in coverage on a daily basis with senior management using the measurement to guide their response.

The end-of-year report provided additional insight and takeaways, comparing Samsung’s crisis with other organisations facing similar issues. This has helped the UK team work with South Korea in learning how to manage crisis situations in the future.

Finally, Cision was able to demonstrate that the crisis – despite its gravity and length – did not significantly affect the company’s overall reputation and financial performance.

Note 7 Supporting Materials PowerPoint