It’s been an interesting month for Samsung, what with the Apple patent affair and all.  You’d think that they’d be trying their best to keep the blogosphere onside, given the potential for bloggers to significantly influence perception of you and all.  So their treatment of bloggers recently falls into the peculiar at least category.

I’m sure many of you know the drill by now.  A company approaches you, says they have some whizzy new gadget about to hit the market, would you like to review it?  You get the new gizmo to play with, the company gets some favourable coverage.  Pretty standard issue stuff.  Except Samsung have done things a little differently.

They approached some Indian bloggers to participate in the Samsung Mobiler program.  The bloggers said sure, providing they can remain impartial and review the products impartially.  In other words they weren’t prepared to be unofficial ambassadors for the company, which seems fair enough.  And it seems Samsung thought so too because they flew them out to the IFA conference in Berlin, which is a trade show for the mobile sector.  Now that’s a pretty hard gig to turn down, so of course the bloggers jumped at it.  Free trip to Berlin, hotel covered and so on.  Great stuff.

Now it all started to get a bit peculiar when Samsung contacted them asking for their clothing measurements, as though they were being fitted out for a uniform.  The bloggers had made it quite clear they’d be attending as impartial reporters rather than brand ambassadors.

When they arrived at the hotel however they were given a booth and a Samsung uniform to wear, AND asked to sign a NDA.  Can you smell the fish yet?  Samsung told them they were to man the stand all day (in uniform) and show products to the press.

So the bloggers reiterated that they were only on the trip as impartial reporters, they had agreed not to be ambassadors for Samsung.  It’s at this point where things take a turn for the worse.  For you see they’re hauled in front of Samsung PR bods, at which point they reaffirm their position.  Samsung in return tell them that if they don’t wear the uniform and man the stand that they will have to arrange their own flight home and pay for their own hotel from the precise moment this conversation ends.  A few moments later they got another call saying they would send them home now providing they don’t talk about this event at all.

Now suffice to say us bloggers aren’t loaded, so having to foot a plane ticket back home from Berlin is no small ask, yet safe carriage home was essentially being used as ransom by Samsung.  So they acted as a Samsung schill, wearing the t-shirt and all, all in the hope of getting home again.

Now blogger outreach is a truely wonderful thing and something more companies should be engaged in.  But there’s a right way of doing it and a wrong way, and it seems Samsung have gone about it in wholly the wrong way.  Now I’m a Samsung user, and am very happy with my Galaxy device, but shame on you for treating people this way.