I loathe people who feign outrage at the notion that PR firms can ‘influence’ something and not have it be nefarious. Their immediate thought is that influence means payola. The case I’m referring to is in the games industry (which from what I understand does have some potential ethics issues) but not necessarily in this case.
Last night I read a post about Kohnke Communications filing suit against a former client for lack of payment. Today I read a post on GamePro, that apparently pulls from information contained in that filing.
The body of the post says”Kohnke’s public relations campaign was successful in creating pre-release ‘buzz’ around Gods & Heroes, and in convincing reviewers to write positive reviews about the game,” reads the seven-count court filing obtained by Shack News.”
The implication is that this means reviewers were paid. This takes off in the comments with nearly every comment assuming that “convincing reporters to write positive reviews” means they were paid. Also, the commenters almost immediately make a leap to the coverage of Halo3 saying that it was too positive and had to be paid for.
Once again, I have news for people. We don’t have to pay people to influence them. We provide them information. We provide them sources. We don’t have to pay them. Sometimes ti works, sometimes it doesn’t. If you want to see something for sure in a magazine, you buy an ad. If you want to try and convince people to write something in a magazine you use PR. The trade off is that you don’t have as much control of the message using PR as you do with an ad, but you do have the potential of a much more impactful third party endorsement of your product.
If the PR firm paid for reviews it stinks. If the PR firm is rewarded for securing positive reviews they should be lauded.