PR agency Redner Group lost its largest client today, following one of those familiar tweet blunders that begs the question: How does this keep happening?
In this case, the blunder was a public declaration denouncing negative reviews of client 2K's "Duke Nukem Forever" game.
The now-deleted tweet was captured by Wired, among other industry outlets, in a screenshot of @TheRednerGroup that read: "too many went too far with their reviews. We r reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn't based on today's venom."
James Redner, who had worked with the company since 2009 on various projects and who had most recently handled media relations for the launch of "Duke Nukem Forever," has apologized for his actions numerous times on Twitter. He told Ad Age , "I used a public forum to voice my complaints and I know better. I poured my soul into the project and when I read the review I felt like a father trying to protect his son. In hindsight, I should have approached the writer directly."
His tweet generated additional tweets, the first of which he said were mostly positive and Mr. Redner said he immediately e-mailed 2K, which told him: "This needs to be squashed immediately." He then said he proactively contacted media to discuss the incident and apologize. In some cases, that alerted them to the error. Wired then spread the story.
Quickly following the media storm today, 2K issued a statement: "2K Games does not endorse or condone the comments made by @TheRednerGroup and confirm they no longer represent our products. We maintain a mutually respectful relationship with the press and will continue to do so. We don't condone@TheRednerGroup's actions at all."
It has become a classic case of social over-sharing that leads to the loss of business -- New Media Strategies' F-bomb tweet that led to its loss of the Chrysler account -- or at least a damage-control headache, such as Kenneth Cole's unfortunate war-related tweet.
These gaffes may blunt the shock factor of a new tweet about the unspoken yet common practice of blacklisting journalists -- it happens, folks -- but they still have serious implications. When asked whether his one-man, Santa Monica, Calif.-based agency can survive without its largest piece of business, Mr. Redner said, "We plan to sit down and re-evaluate where we are what our goals are and where we think we can thrive. In one form or another, [the firm] will survive."
Despite the "emotional" loss, he said, "If I was in 2K's shoes I would have done the same thing. That is not how 2K handles their reviews process."
In September, at gaming show PAX, developer Gearbox Software announced that this year it would release "Duke Nukem Forever" for PS3 and Xbox 360 after 13 years in development. The long delay and announcement generated pent-up anticipation, as well as frustration, and put a lot of pressure on Gearbox and publisher 2K to promote the title and instill confidence in consumers, according to an Ad Age report at the time.
Randy Pitchford, CEO of Gearbox and a developer on the original "Duke" game, had told Ad Age that Gearbox, working with 2K, intends to get demos into players' hands before launching a traditional "large-scale media campaign."
Unfortunately, for the time being, the "media campaign" has become more of a story about a botched media-relations campaign, as well as a reminder to cut off all access to Twitter when inflamed.