The Redner Group, a public relations firm, took to Twitter this week to warn the press about issuing negative reviews of its video game client’s latest product, Duke Nukem Forever. In doing this, the Redner Group created a crisis communications situation.
Public relations pros work with the press to generate favor for their clients. However, the Redner Group viewed the press who is usually an ally for public relations pros as the enemy. The Redner Group threatened the press on Twitter to withhold providing free copies and access to future releases by their video game client if the press outlets reviewed Duke Nukem Forever poorly.
Most outlets had been reviewing the video game with low scores. By bashing the press for doing its job, the Redner Group cut off one of its only avenues to providing value for its video game client. The press acts as a brand ambassador for the video game client and the Redner Group distrusted the press’s views of their video game client’s products.
With threats and opinions of the press, the Redner Group endangered its chances of having the press cover any of their clients in a positive light. The president of the Redner Group apologized to everyone but the damage he already inflicted.
When working with the press, we tell the client’s best story and trust the press to tell that story factually and ethically. If there is an outlet that does not produce what we expect, we try to work with that outlet and reporter to reach an agreement on what needs correction. We do not slander them for doing their job as if they have no idea how to do it.
Also, it is hard to win a public fight with the press but trying to bully them is absolutely deadly and, in many cases, unethical. If you do want to disagree with the media do it on background and in personal meeting unless you are Sarah Palin who appeals to her niche base by bashing the media and making a business out of that strategy.
Another lesson here is to stay off Twitter unless you are promoting your client rather than ranting about their media coverage. What if the client finds out? It is crucial for public relations firms to have a social media style guide to make sure what is appropriate for what client and what social media platform. What is private? What is public? There is that adage, “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” These are wise words to listen to in the case of the Redner Group.