PR agency loses biggest account with a single tweet

PR agency Redner Group got sacked by its biggest client, video game publisher 2k, after it tweeted that it would punish bad reviews of  the game ‘Duke Nukem Forever’ by withholding future releases from reviewers.

For a PR agency it was insanely stupid thing to do and although an apology was quickly offered it was too late. The tweet was out and the agency lost its account.

The tweet from the @TheRednerGroup account 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.”

Everyone knows that tweets are a little too easy to write and easier to send, but really why would you ever send that tweet? The tweet was sent by agency founder James Redner who later issued an apology on Twitter insisting he had acted on his own and did not represent his client 2k: “Again, I want everyone to know that I was acting on my own. 2K had nothing to do with this. I am so very sorry for what I said”.

Redner 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.”

As the tweet spread around the Twittersphere games publisher 2K reacted and fired Redner. In a statement it, said: “2K Games does not endorse or condone the comments made by @TheRednerGroup and confirm they no longer represent our products.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.”

Careless tweets really do cost. Take a breath. We’ve seen it a few times recently with Chrysler and #motorcity and the American Red Cross. We saw it also with #IAmSpartacus and again much more recently with Jeff Jarvis and the whole #BBCSMS conference, which led me to write Does Twitter make you stupid? Twitter spats and the problem with social media.

While there is often a chance to turn disaster into victory there really was no way back from this one once the tweet was out there. For Redner this will seriously damage the agency’s reputation. Would you want this small agency handling your business if there is a tendency to say very dumb stuff in a public space? It might be a risk. Redner though seems to think his one-man, Santa Monica, California-based agency can survive and said in one shape or another the firm will survive.

Some products are going to get bad reviews and Duke Nukem Forever is hardly the first console game to rack up a series of bad review. The tweet seems even more unwise when as Wired says while it is “hard to find a good review for the game…the game will sell well regardless — Duke Nukem Forever is the definition of a release that’s critic-proof — but no one feels good when their game is beaten up so badly by the reviews”.

The game it appears will ride out the reviews unlike the PR agency involved, which looks like it will have far more trouble riding out the bad PR it generated.