Weekend Reading: How Sony can turn around their awful public image

Since DMV is hittin’ the books hard this week, I’ve been asked to fill in his Weekend Reading shoes and give y’all a nice little feature to ponder as you meet with friends and do whatever it is you people do in your free time on the weekends.

Now, before you hit the jump or assume anything about this post based on the headline, let me explain something first and make certain things very clear: I am not a fanboy of any console/company. I am a gamer. I am a gamer who wants the latest and best video games on the latest and best systems, that’s it. I don’t care if a console is made by Mickey Mouse, if it’s hot, I want it.

Now that being said, I invite you to hit this damn jump and check out how the Robert Summa PR Agency for Dummies would turn around the SS Sony PlayStation 3 Titanic — because let’s face it, it’s sinking in the public-opinion seas with no sign of stopping. 

Come Sony, step into my office and sit down. We have to discuss your current situation and how we at RSPRAD can help you turn things around out there in the gaming world. Let’s get things straight:

Everyone hates you

Whether you know it or not, about 70-80% of the Internet hates you right now. I understand this might mean absolutely nothing to you, but this isn’t 1997. The Internet community is huge now and it’s only going to get bigger. Newspapers and magazines are dying out because people can and want their information fast — thus the Internet has become one of the biggest influences in public opinion.

Sit back and let this idea soak in your big brain for a second … OK … let it digest … I know it’s hard … relax … good, all done. So you see, you need the Internet, right? We understand each other on that one, right?

It’s pretty simple: Millions flock to the Internet for information, thus what you say and what is said about you on the Internet is important. I can’t stress this enough as we move forward. You must fully understand this fact in order for everything else we discuss today to click in your head.

How to begin to turn it around

Let’s look at Microsoft first and see what they do. They have a very strong presence in the community and above all else, they’re honest and quick with their response to negative opinion or concerns.

Represented by the likes of Major Nelson and GamerScore Blog, among others, Microsoft is connected everyday to their consumer. Because of this, they seem friendly. When a problem comes up, they respond. There’s no cold, heartless corporate head spinning PR lies two days later to some random news source. No, it comes straight from the source and out to the gamers directly. 

There’s no middle man. If people have an issue, then they go straight to Microsoft via Major Nelson and voice their complaints. It may take a few hours, but the good ol’ Major usually responds with an honest response to everyone concerned. 

This is where you start to lay some sort of new foundation. Three Speech is a nice start, but it’s not really the right direction. What you need is community people within Sony that can convey your message. And not a PR spin message, gamers see through that. Instead, you need a “hey, this is going on and we’re working on it” message. More on this next.

Stop with the PR doublespeak

Gamers today aren’t stupid Sony. When you say you can’t do rumble because it’s not next-gen, we know you’re lying. There’s really no point to even say something as stupid as this when all you have to do is say the truth: We were in litigation with Immersion, so we couldn’t put rumble in the SIXAXIS. Say the truth, good or bad. Gamers will respect you if you tell them the truth.

If you continue to treat your loyal few like idiots, then they will eventually wise up and grow disgusted with the way you treat them. Now, if you’re going to say, “Well why does it matter what we say, our console speaks for itself?” OK, good point, and the PS3 certainly can, but the problem is, you’re losing exclusives and gamers are a sensative bunch. If they see you acting like dicks, then there may be a good portion of some that will sway toward Microsoft simply because they feel Bill Gates can treat them better.

Customer loyalty must never be forgotten, no matter what. You were king with the PlayStation 2, but this launch landscape is completely different now. Your competition is out and ready to take off your head, you must be proactive. 

Back on point: How you treat your fans is sort of like a battered spouse. There’s only so many times you can slap someone around before they finally pack up their bags and leave. Got me on that one?

Hire good PR people that know what they are talking about

Now, we at RSPRAD certainly can help you here if you like, but if you do decide to go elsewhere, let us give you some tips: Get PR people who understand your product and understand the current landscape of gaming. Your relations with the press are crucial. I know you hate them, but how you treat the gaming press can go a long way toward turning things around.

We’re not talking bribes or anything like that, we’re talking about openness. Have a dialogue with the press — whether it be places like Destructoid, Kotaku, whoever. You’ve got to understand the the Internet gaming press — blogs included — are a powerful medium. How you treat them can reflect highly in what kind of coverage you get.

This whole Kotaku fiasco was a perfect example. Here it was, you finally had some positive PS3 news come out and you sh*t all over it by lashing out at Kotaku and acting like a child because a rumor was reported. Rumor or not, this was the first really positive news Sony fans had heard in a long time. So, instead of just ignoring it and letting it be, you threw a tantrum and demanded your stuff back.

Gamers saw this and now maybe those who were on the fence with your past actions, quickly switched over to the anti-Sony crowd. There are many out there just waiting for you to slip up like this and you’re doing nothing but adding fuel to the fire with actions like this. 

Much like your fan base, if you continue to piss on the press, then they’re just gonna piss on you right back.

Overview on how to do it right

The biggest things to take from this meeting, Sony, is that you need to start being honest and open. If something is not ready, then say so. Gamers will understand and respect you more for being honest.

Don’t make up claims about what the console can do, speak the truth. If the console is going to have only one HDMI port, for example, then say so. Don’t shoot for the moon, just focus on what you got. You have a beautiful machine, Sony, that has the potential to play amazing games, keep your attention on that. Don’t be bothered by this other nonsense that pops up.

And lastly, treat your fans and the press like they were your family. We all want the same thing: A wonderful escape with some of the best games and systems our current technology can produce. This isn’t a war, this is a love fest, and everyone just wants to get laid.

Take these points to heart Sony. Take these seriously. It’s not too late, you still have time to save this thing. So, from one gamer to another, get your sh*t together. You have a $600 console, now is not the time to press your luck.

About The Author
Robert Summa
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