Generally, the week between Christmas and New Years are filled with cheer and good spirit. However, with all the hubbub of the holidays, you may have missed one of the biggest PR disasters seen in the history of the video game industry.
The main culprit of this fiasco is Ocean Marketing, a marketing company responsible for public relations for N-Control. The President of Ocean Marketing, Paul Christoforo, engaged in a customer relations battle that resulted in major consequences. A customer had emailed Ocean Marketing, politely inquiring the status of his two pre-ordered products, and if he would be able to receive them by Christmas. In the emails back and forth, Paul Christoforo provides inadequate responses, attributing to delays and telling the customer to put on his “big boy hat” and stop complaining. The customer forwards his correspondence to Mike Krahulik, one of the creators of a popular game-centered web comic called Penny Arcade.
Paul continues dropping several names in the industry and brags of his own importance, using bully tendencies to try to get his way. Eventually, Mike Krahulik posts the entire email correspondence between Paul and the customer on his website. Penny Arcade, with its 3.5 million readers, fuels the rage against Paul Christoforo, spreading the dialogue to major sites and blogs. After a few days, Ocean Marketing is dropped by the client, N-Control is forced to hire damage control and Paul Christoforo is unlikely to ever work in a PR role again.
What to Learn from Paul Christoforo
Now that the fervor against Paul Christoforo has died down in the past few days, what can we learn from the fiasco? The following are important lessons that customer service and public relation departments can take from the event:
1. The Importance of Quality Customer Service
No bigger lesson can be taken from this event than the importance of customer service. It is highly critical that representatives understand that the happiness of customers play a major role in the success of the company. If your products are undergoing shortages or delays, simply admitting fault can go a long way in appeasing customers.
2. It’s All About the Attitude
The main reason why Paul Christoforo failed spectacularly results from his poor attitude. Throughout the entirety of the exchange, Paul fails to exhibit professionalism and humility, instead expressing his opinions through crude rants and arguments. Even his dialogue fails to utilize basic grammar, spelling, or sentence structure, further cementing his role as a bully. Clear, articulate language should be obvious; however, companies should remember that their attitude can play a deciding factor in good or bad customer relations.
3. Don’t Underestimate the Power of the Internet
The fervor against Paul Christoforo spread quickly as a result of the Internet. Major news sites and blogs quickly picked up on the fiasco, and angry comments against Ocean Marketing blazed back and forth. Given the immediacy of the Internet, any bad publicity has the potential to quickly turn viral. The anger against Ocean Marketing is another point of proof that the Internet can make or break the perception of your company. Therefore, companies would do well to steer clear of the wrath of the Internet masses.
4. Bad Publicity Does Exist
Paul Christoforo brags that he creates publicity for N-Control, regardless of whether the publicity is good or bad. However, this fiasco is an example that bad publicity does exist. The fallout from bad publicity can be dire and have terrible consequences for the company. If your company experiences bad publicity, carefully manage social media channels, customer satisfaction, and take the following step to control the flow of publicity.
5. Damage Control
In the height of the anger against Ocean Marketing, Paul Christoforo was quickly dropped and replaced with a new public relations manager. This new representative quickly started damage control, attempting to restore the name of the company and the product. If your company has the misfortune of experiencing public relations mismanagement, it is important to realize that damage control can restore faith in the company again.
Paul Christoforo and Ocean Marketing may be forgotten in the next few weeks, but the lessons should not. By maintaining customer satisfaction and public relations, companies can ensure that their reputation does not go up in flames, as it has for Ocean Marketing.
Rachel Hyun Kim is a writer on topics ranging from workers compensation insurance to document scanning. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including document management to small businesses and entrepreneurs for the leading business directory, Business.com.