Lessons to be Learned from the Ocean Marketing Scandal

A large PR scandal erupted a little over a week ago in the video gaming industry, enraging gamers across the country and pretty much sinking a company. As with most PR crises, there are lessons to be learned here.

Ocean Marketing had been hired by video game control maker N-Control to help promote and market its new product, the Avenger controller. The product had done well in its pre-order period but had experienced delays in manufacturing and shipping that led it to miss its expected release date. A pre-order customer contacted Ocean Marketing’s Paul Christoforo to ask what the status of controller was and things went downhill quickly.

Christoforo’s subsequent responses were not only unprofessional; they were everything that a public relations professional shouldn’t do. The customer leaked the emails to Penny Arcade and the story grew legs fast, going viral within days. Ocean Marketing was dropped by N-Control and the entire video gaming community turned against Christoforo.

A few lessons can be taken from the entire Ocean Marketing incident:

Don’t get cocky. Christoforo didn’t just get cocky; he got really, really cocky. He was not only incredibly rude to an innocent customer, but he was also brash to a guy who runs a huge videogame festival. This is completely unprofessional and a horrendous way for a public relations practitioner to act.

Learn to spell. Spelling mistakes were abundant in the emails sent by Christoforo. Simple things, like using the wrong “your.” A public relations professional should always proofread his or her work before sending it out. Typos reflect on you and your product.

The customer comes first. Always. If a disgruntled customer contacts you, always respond cordially and offer to help him in anyway possible. Christoforo’s vague, unhelpful first responses were bad enough. What came after was completely unacceptable.

Know your audience. The video game community is pretty tight nit and very internet savvy. All the disgruntled customer had to do was send one email to ruin Christoforo’s company and career. Furthermore, Christoforo’s client sustained damage as angry video game fans spammed the Avenger controller’s Amazon page with 1 star reviews.

Have you been keeping up with this scandal? What do you think?

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