I knew it had to only be a matter of time before I would see a PR agency put its foot in its mouth and today that has happened with the PR agency The Redner Group who was in charge of the PR for the game Duke Nukem Forever.
Before I get too far into this article I should mention that the term PR is short for Public Relations for those wondering.
Today as I was surfing around the news web sites I noticed a story over at IGN about a PR firm that temporarily lost its mind and was telling reviewers of the just released game Duke Nukem Forever that if they keep up with the negative reviews / comments that they would not be getting any future games from this PR agency to review.
Now this type of shit goes on all the time, I know for a fact that some of the PR agencies I have dealt with in the past have put me on black lists before and I'm sure it will happen in the future as well. The big difference with this news story at IGN was the owner of The Redner Group (Jim Redner) apparently was the one who was on twitter making these threats publicly. Most of the time when a PR agency black lists someone you don't hear about it at all, in fact even the reviewer doesn't hear about it you just know that your e-mails now don't get answered which means no more products for you.
The reason the owner of The Redner Group was pissed was because the reviews coming in for the game Duke Nukem Forever were slamming the game and giving it very poor review scores. IGN gave the game a score of 5.5 and Gamespot gave the game a 3.5. With such huge game review sites giving the game such a low score the Publisher of Duke Nukem Forever (2K Games) watched their stock price take a tumble upon release of the game and the negative review scores.
If the owner of The Redner Group wasn't impressed with the game review scores, he surely wasn't too impressed when 2K Games fired his PR agency from representing the company any more. 2K Games didn't have much of a choice here, once the threat was made publicly on twitter about reviewers not getting future games based on how they reviewed Duke Nukem Forever something had to be done.
As it stands now the owner of the The Redner Group (Jim Redner) has issued a public apology for his actions on twitter but I doubt that will do him much good since I think he may have just killed his business off for good.
As unbelievable as the story above is, I had a similar issue with a PR agency that I won't name here. A while ago I was trying to get a digital audio recorder in for review and I was sending the PR contact e-mail several times a week and I never got a response from this guy. Like a Pitbull I kept at it and finally after 38 e-mails and several months later he responded to me and my request about getting the digital recorder, his response was, "No. Stop sending me emails." so when I seen this at first I was going to just ignore it but the more I thought about his response the more pissed off I got and that's where his problems began.
To make a long story short I ended up sending this PR guys response that he sent me to the owner of the PR agency he worked for, not really expecting a response back I continued on with my work. An hour after I sent the owner the e-mail he got back to me and the PR guy that sent me the e-mail was removed from his position and almost lost his job.
I wasn't looking for the PR guy to get fired but on the same hand I was shocked that here you have a guy whose job it is to deal with the press which is me, and he is telling me not to email him when his job is to answer e-mails like mine all day long and do so in a professional manner.
One thing that's blown me away about running this web site has been the way some of these PR agencies behave when you're trying to get a product for review. Often times I think that if the company could see the way these PR agencies respond on their behalf I think a lot of these PR agencies would be out of work.
Not all the PR agencies out there are bad, I have dealt with quite a few that were a pleasure to work with so I want to make that clear.
If I was a company and I had a PR agency working for me, I would like to get some sort of "secrete shopper" service going so you can test and see how good or bad of a job a PR agency is doing on your behalf. I know if I had some CEO's of some big companies here to watch me as I try and contact some of these companies through their PR agencies their heads would explode at the hassle you have to go through some of the time to get a product that you want to review on a web site like mine.
At the end of the day I don't think The Redner Group PR incident will change much. The black listing of reviewers for one reason or another will continue on behind closed doors as it always has.