When it comes to some of the most competitive industries in today’s market, hardware ranks near the top of the list. Following the happenings in this market bears a close resemblance to watching a television drama unfold. Some of the most notable rivalries over the years include Blackberry vs. Apple, Dell vs. HP, and Samsung vs. Apple.
And PR & Marketing is part and parcel of building one’s brands and unique image. Three companies successfully doing this time and time again are Apple, Samsung, and Cisco. However, they do so in completely different ways.
Many people think of Samsung as one of the underdogs in the hardware market, especially in comparison to Apple. But, according to the Hardware Top 100 list, Samsung ranks as one of the largest and most successful hardware companies in the world, coming second only to Hewlett-Packard. A Korean company of humble beginnings, Samsung spends extensively on marketing and public relations to boost visibility and drive sales.
Spending big remains one of Samsung’s marketing strategies – According to Adage.com, “In 2012, it reported $558.8 million for global PR expenses. According to the Ad Age DataCenter, the company reported worldwide PR expenses of $476.1 million in 2011.”
Samsung hires multiple PR experts to handle its public relations affairs in different countries and across different product lines. They keep a lot of public relations activities in-house, and ‘outsource’ PR activities when external agencies might handle them better. They have worked with a number of PR firms, including Edelman PR, Fleishman-Hillard, Weber Shandwick & MWW PR Group.
Target the Professionals
A second notable difference in Samsung’s campaigns shows their desire to attract professionals. For instance, when tablets first hit the market, Apple portrayed the iPad as an amazingly fun way of playing games and passing time. This approach was also common among other contenders in the market, like HP and Blackberry.
Samsung instead presented a more businesslike front by releasing ads urging people to use tablets in business meetings and classrooms. Appealing to schools, corporate entities, and creative individuals to purchase on a larger scale to use for projects rather than individual buyers.
Samsung also utilizes social media to the fullest. Have something to say about Samsung products? You’ll probably receive a response from the team with suggestions or thanking you for posting about the brand. This is unlike Apple or Cisco, who focus more on creating unique content than interacting with followers.
Surprisingly, Apple falls a whopping 18 places after Samsung on the Hardware Top 100 list, based on revenue and growth. Even more surprising, according to Advertising Age, Samsung has three times as many hardware customers worldwide as Apple. This attests to Apple’s superb public relations skills, making it appear as the leader in its market.
Attract Buyers before Products Hit the Market
Even before products make it to market, Apple ensures they generate enough interest to maximize sales from the beginning. Prior to ever touching or seeing a new Apple product, the company carefully plans every public appearance leaving nothing to chance. While Samsung often tries to generate the same level of interest before going to market, no one does this better than Apple.
Tell Them What to Believe
Telling people what to believe is one thing Apple does best. This PR strategy gets the job done every time for the company. People trust Apple and trust the advice of the people behind it. They believe Apple when it says it’s the best, and believe by using its products, they also produce work of higher quality than PC and Android users – a frequently-held belief in music production, video editing, and graphic design.
Apple differentiates its brands from the others by portraying itself as ‘King’. The company’s public relations team puts considerable effort into making Apple the ‘cool kid on the block’, and this elite positioning trickles down to consumers, who see themselves in the same light. Most Apple buyers become staunch supporters and ambassadors of the brand.
Create an Interesting Person Behind the Project
Steve Jobs was one of the most successful businessmen of his time. People’s respect for his reputation helped build the Apple brand. Few companies elevate their CEO’s names to a superstar level, or successfully turn them into pop culture icons. Apple did. Even though Jobs has passed away, his legacy lives on through the company. People continue supporting the company out of respect for that legacy he built and the continued excellence of their products.
If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Join ‘em
In 2013, when Apple realized Samsung was gaining on them, they tried to rectify the situation by employing some of the same features Android used in the Apple OS. Then, in 2014, when the company released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, it made them larger to match the bigger phone screens Samsung users enjoyed.
It kept Apple users from switching to Samsung for the bigger screens, but it was a new low for Apple, since Jobs’ death. The company usually sets new trends, but in this instance, it took the lazy route by merely going with the flow.
Keep it In House
Like Samsung, Apple believes in retaining public relations operations in-house. But, unlike their rival, the company keeps virtually all its PR experts within the company managing Apple Public Relations within the organization allowing Apple to maintain secrecy for upcoming releases.
If Samsung beating out Apple comes as a surprise, then imagine Cisco ranking at number 9 on the Hardware Top 100 list. Most people know of the company but know little of its products and services beyond its routers. Because Cisco does not make a lot of individual consumer goods, the company spends less on advertising and elaborate publicity stunts like Apple or Samsung.
Keep it In House
Like Apple, Cisco believes in keeping PR operations in-house. However, it partners with some outside PR firms. The company maintains internal PR experts managing key geographical areas, as well as, different product lines. Cisco’s external PR partners include TACT Intelligence-conseil, Walker Sands Communications, and Oliver Schrott Kommunikation (OSK).
Samsung and Apple turn to platforms like Twitter and Facebook to bond with customers. While Cisco also runs accounts on social platforms, it utilizes brand journalism via “The Network”. The company launched in 2011 and put its own spin on things.
According to Bulldog Reporter:
“Cisco Systems… was among the first to shed the traditional corporate newsroom model… that only promoted news about its own brand…
“The Network became a news portal that not only focused on news about Cisco, but also reported on topics of interest to a wider audience.
“More important for communicators, Cisco’s newsroom became a standard for brand journalism for other corporations… and has earned the accolades of the comms industry.”
Reach Out Specifically to Your Target Market
Cisco focuses its resources on earning media placements in magazines and blogs featuring business people as their primary readers. As a B2B company, they ensure the company doesn’t waste money on ads viewed by the general public.
A FINAL PR COMPARISON
As giants in the hardware business, Samsung, Apple, and Cisco all command large shares of the market by using different techniques. Samsung builds its brand image by creating a large quantity of ads with the help of PR experts broadening the company’s reach to the masses.
Apple focuses less on quantity and more on quality when it comes to publicity stunts and ads helping retain its elite status successfully leading many consumers to believe the company is the best at what it does. Like most cool kids on the block, Apple knows how to set trends.
Cisco uses neither of these tactics. Instead, it recognizes as a B2B company, it must retain a more business-like image.
Samsung, Cisco & Apple are all great companies with great brands. Each are dream clients for the readers of Everything-PR.