In light of the recent announcement that the PSN outage has reverted back to ďIndefinite StatusĒ, one canít help but feel sorry for Sony. Unlike the Red Ring of Death for Microsoft, this was not Sonyís fault. They are the victim of a malicious cyber attack meant to harm them. Just as big as that though, is the fact that they failed to properly respond to the situation. It has in turn, metamorphosed this debacle into something that can potentially cause long term damage to Sony as a company. Thatís the point of this blog posting, to look into how Sony should have and should go forth, handle this situation on a PR level.
In recent memory you can look at BPís handling of the oil crisis in the Gulf as a situation that was fundamentally the opposite, but equally lackluster in how they handled the PR around the situation itself. Right off the bat BP shifts blame to Transocean Ltd., the contractor that the oil rig belonged to. They insisted that it was not their fault, but they offered full support. In Sonyís case they weíre actually not to blame. They had been attacked, but they kept it quite. Possibly, in a desire to maintain the image of superiority in the battle against piracy? Would there ego be too damaged if they admitted to the world that there servers had been hacked and peoples personal information had been lost? Those both may be true, but actually speaking out as much as possible on the attack would have been a far smarter approach. In the end Sony didnít want the network to come down. They donít want millions of gamers around the world to not be able to play Two Worlds 2 online. In this situation you turn the masses that your aggressors were fighting on behalf of, against the aggressors themselves. All that has come of this has been an inability for me to play Marvel vs Capcom 3 online. Sony should have been playing the sympathy card all along.
Thatís an example of how a PR nightmare is handled wrong, but letís looks at a similar situation with another company that was handled right. In 1982, seven people died in the Chicago area after taking some Tylenol. The deaths werenít caused by anything Johnson & Johnson had put into their product, but was the work of an unknown person putting cyanide in the bottles. They quickly jumped into action to curtail any downfall from this event. They set up a 24-hour hotline to keep consumers updated. A website just for the issue Sony per chance? They then immediately and continually stressed that consumer safety was their companyís top priority. They then offered coupons to customers after reinforcing their stance with measures such as tamper proof bottles. In this situation Sony should not have only immediately made this information known and public, but they should have set up a forum for people to voice themselves that they could have some sort of control over. You let the public know and get them on your side. Donít try to keep it under wraps in the hopes you can sweep in under the carpet, but instead you get the attention of the federal government. They eventually opened up and made it a public matter, but at that point you already had two weeks for it start boiling up and spilling over.
This comparison is extreme in what it presented for both companies. Nobody is dying from the PSN outage, but it is a great example nonetheless. Sony makes games, but they obviously canít play them. Promises of downloads and compensation for the outage is fine, but I would have really appreciated being openly informed of what was going on from the beginning. The company that does that is the one who keeps the consumers trust fora lifetime. Just look at what happened with Microsoft and the RROD.
Blog originally posted http://experience-points.blogspot.com/2011/05/psn-outage-pr-facepalm.html