Virtual public relation is gaining popularity among large multinational corporations as they seek to improve their communication strategies at reduced costs. Most of these multinational corporations are under pressure to improve on their public relations to manage their customers adequately.
However, hiring employees in the public relations department can be very costly, especially if it is within the United States or other Western countries. Virtual public relation has gained massive acceptance among many multinational corporations because of its efficiency and the comparatively low cost on these firms. Apple Inc and Samsung are fierce rivals in the electronic market.
The two firms have been struggling to gain control of the global market for electronics, creating stiff competition in this industry. These two firms need to keep a close relationship with its global clients and other stakeholders around the world. It can be very costly for these firms to hire public relations employees in all the countries in the world.
To address these global communication needs, these firms have realized that the best approach would be to outsource these services by developing virtual public relations. In this research study, the focus will be to determine how these two firms have been using this new service to improve their communication systems.
Critical Appraisal of the Websites
In the current globalized society, websites have become very important in defining the success of an organization. The brick-and-mortar stores are fast losing their appeal as firms struggle to expand their market share. These two firms are operating in the global market, and may not have the capacity to establish their stores in all these countries. For this reason, they partner with retail outlets in various parts of the world to sell their products.
This means that the only way through which these firms can interact with their customers directly is through their websites and other customer care services through the marketing department.
This means that websites play a pivotal role in these firms in drawing customers to their stores. Whenever a global customer needs information about these firms or their products, he or she will visit the websites of the companies. Therefore, it is important to ensure that these websites can communicate effectively with the visitors and offer the needed information with ease.
Critical appraisal of Apple Inc’s Website
According to Gregory (2003), a website is like an ambassador of the firm to the world, and the impression it gives will be assumed to be the real image of the firm it represents. As an ambassador, a website should give the accurate image of the firm, and convince the visitors that the firm is sensitive to their needs and can meet them.
The website of Apple Inc has some features that may be considered its major strength as it strives to reach out to the global society. In these websites, the icons to different pieces of information that may be needed appear clearly at the top part of the webpage. The first icon on the extreme left leads to general information about the firm, while the second icon provides information about the stores where customers can get the products.
The next five icons provide pieces of information about five unique products of this firm that are very popular in the market. The eighth icon offers support to the visitors, while the last icon enables a visitor to key in any question about the firm or a product. Such questions would get system generated answers. According to Phillips and Young (2009), a good website should have clear images of a firm’s products and other relevant images.
This is evident in this website as sharp images of various products are shown, and their usage demonstrated. This website is highly interactive. A visitor can easily get a video demonstrating how a particular product is used by simply clicking on the product within the website. The website also shows the efforts that this firm is making to protect the environment.
Some weaknesses were noticed on this website that may need to be addressed by the firm to enhance the superiority of this website. Most firms currently have Live Chart software that enables their customers to communicate directly with the customer care unit. This is missing on this website.
It is also evident that this website has ignored some of the most important products of this company. The Apple laptops and televisions are conspicuously missing on the website. This may be mistaken to mean that the company no longer produces such products. The link to this website is given in Appendix 1
Critical appraisal of Samsung’s Website
Samsung is one of the leading electronic firms in the global market. The firm has experienced massive success in the recent past in this industry that has enabled it to emerge as the top electronics manufacturer in the global market. To reach out to the customers and the public in the global market, it has developed an interactive website where visitors can have most of their questions about the firm or its products properly addressed.
The strength of this website lies in its nature, especially the use of graphics. It has all the major products of this company. Each of the products has a clear explanation of its features and how it is used. The laptops, phones, cameras, television sets, music systems, watches, fridges, and washing machines that are manufactured by this firm are all captured on this website.
The icons on this website make it easy to navigate through the website when searching for relevant information. Another feature that makes this website superior to that of some of the competitors is its customized approach based on the nationality of the visitor. For instance, a Chinese will only need to click on the icon for Samsung China and the language and images on the website changes to reflect what the customer desires.
The website has a translation to all the major languages, which means that the language barrier has been reduced as much as possible. The website also directs customers to the social media that customers can use when they need to contact customers directly. For example, one can leave a message for the company on its Facebook page, and a representative will make an effort to reply to such messages.
The website has some weaknesses that may limit its ability to give the information needed about the firm. This website, just like that of Apple Inc, does not have the Live Chat software that can enable it to engage its customers or the public directly.
It is also important to note that the animation on the website needs some adjustments because the movements of the images are too drastic to offer a pleasant view to the visitors. The website of this company is given in Appendix 2.
According to Gregory (2003), media is a very powerful tool in developing a brand of a firm. Both Apple Inc and Samsung have been very actively involved in engaging their customers through relevant media. Choosing the right media always determines the type of audience that will be reached by a given message.
In defining a target market, a firm must determine the segment’s ability to buy the product, the segment size, and willingness to purchase a particular product. For Apple and Samsung, their main target market is the youth. This group is very active on social media. This means that these two firms will find it relevant to use social media when reaching out to their customers.
According to Gookin (2012), Apple is one of the leading electronic firms that actively use social media to reach out to its customers. The firm has been actively using Facebook to reach out to the youth. Phillips and Young (2009) observe that Facebook has a following of about one billion people who make frequent visits.
Using it will mean that the firm will be able to reach out to this large population. Tweeter and LinkedIn have also provided a good platform for this firm to reach out to its customers in the global market. However, it is unfortunate that this firm has failed to indicate that it is committed to using social media to reach customers. This is very different from the approach taken by Samsung.
In its website, it is clear from the homepage that this firm uses Facebook, Tweeter, and YouTube to reach out to its customers. This information is important because it enables the customers to understand that there are alternative means of reaching out to this firm whenever they have a question or a clarification. The company has virtual representatives who can engage customers and the public actively in social media.
Samsung has developed a heavy presence on YouTube, especially when promoting some of its new products. It has been developing television commercials and posting them on YouTube. According to Gregory (2003), there has been stiff competition between Samsung and Apple in the usage of YouTube.
This platform offers these firms the best opportunity to demonstrate to their customers how some of their products are used. Although Apple also uses such videos on its website, it has been very active on YouTube, just like Samsung. Tweeter has also been a powerful tool for Samsung, especially in Western countries.
Consumer relation is one of the most important strategies that a firm needs to win the trust of a market. The marketing department is always under pressure to come up with unique promotional techniques that would make a company unique from other competitors. Apple and Samsung have been struggling to outmuscle each other in the global market.
To be successful in this battle, both have realized that they need to have a superior approach to consumer relations strategies. Apple has developed a virtual public relations system that is responsible for addressing the issue that customers may have about its products.
In the global market, Apple uses specialty shops to sell its products. Customers’ needs are addressed at such outlets as a way of bringing its services closer to the people. On the other hand, Samsung still prefers mass sale in the global market. However, it has been keen on addressing the needs of its consumers.
For this reason, it has trained representatives in various countries who have the capacity to address issues that customers may have about their products. Issues that may be beyond the ability of these representatives would be directed to the regional offices so that they can be addressed by senior officers.
Unlike Apple Inc, Samsung has not been very active in using virtual public relations when addressing the needs of the customers. Most of these issues are always addressed by these representatives. The representatives would also respond to some of the questions or issues raised in social media.
According to Phillips and Young (2009), a business entity cannot operate in the market with total disregard to the community. There are some needs of the community that a firm must always remain sensitive to get its goodwill. Apple has been actively engaged in activities that are meant to improve its image among the public.
According to Gookin (2012), Apple Inc has developed programs meant to protect the environment and improve living conditions in specific communities. This information is available on the website of this company. In social media, Apple has been actively championing for the promotion of a greener world as a way of protecting the future generation.
Samsung has also engaged the community activities on its website by giving out relevant information about its activities and commitment to improving the welfare of some communities through its corporate social responsibility.
For instance, Gookin (2012) observes that Smart cameras of this firm have helped in enhancing security in the society, just as the firm has always emphasized on in its advertisements. Both firms have employed a strategy that is focused on winning the support of the community because it forms their market.
Online PR Presence and Activities
Samsung and Apple have been actively engaged in stiff competition in the global market as they struggle to gain a competitive edge. These two firms have maintained a high online PR presence and activities as online marketing becomes relevant in the current society. Apple Inc has been very active in using Facebook marketing as a way of reaching out to the customers, while Samsung has been more inclined to using YouTube.
According to Gookin (2012), Apple has also been actively using Yahoo to reach out to the audience. However, the strategy has been criticized by some marketing experts stating that instead of passing the necessary message, it always has an unpleasant impact on the users because it is junk.
According to the opinion of the researcher, it is more appropriate to use social media, especially YouTube to demonstrate how some of the complex products of these two firms are used. This may explain why Samsung has experienced massive growth over the past decade. Customers will find it more reliable to go to YouTube to get a demonstration of the usage of some of these products after making the purchase.
Gookin, D. (2012). Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 for dummies. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.
Gregory, A. (2003). Public relations in practice. London: Kogan Page.
Phillips, D., & Young, P. (2009). Online public relations: A practical guide to developing an online strategy in the world of social media. London: Kogan Page.