Konami’s Gag Order on Game Reviewers: How Companies Should Respond to Critical Bloggers

09Jun08

Recently, news broke that Konami Productions placed limitations on what reviewers may discuss in their write-ups on Metal Gear Solid 4. The revelation has caused an uproar in the gaming community, a well-deserved uproar. For those of you who missed the drama, you’ll find a recap below:

In my previous post, I discussed how this practice robs gamers of useful reviews to guide purchasing decisions.

What Konami Should Have Done (How Companies Should Respond to Critical Bloggers)

1) Become Aware of Your Company’s Reputation Among Bloggers

Image Credit: kotaku.com

Its important that you become aware of your company’s reputation in the blogosphere. This can serve as an indicator of customer opinion as well as inform you of both positive and negative feedback to drive innovation within your company. You can accomplish this by:

  • Making Google Work For You: Set up a Google Alert for your company name and the names of your public facing partners (customer service reps, marketing and pr companies that you’ve retained). When any of the names are mentioned Google will send you an e-mail directing you to it.
  • Staying Up-to-Date: Subscribing to and staying up-to-date on influential gaming blogs and community forums will alert you to conversations involving your company and your competitors. Taking part in the conversation will increase your level of engagement.

2) Consider the Criticism

Image Credit: Ign.com

Consider the criticism and take it seriously. A negative perception of your company could spread and take hold in the mind of consumers . This may result in a lack of trust for your brand and lost business.

3) Respond with Speed and Authenticity

Image Credit: bdgamers.net

A swift and authentic response will show that your company cares about the concerns of its customers. A strained and delayed response will feed into negative perceptions and doubts about your brand. You need to address the criticism directly and show how your company will prevent the issue in the future. There are many ways to do this. I’ve outlined two effective methods below.

  • Submit yourself to an interview with the blogger. Providing bloggers with exclusive interviews can result in a win-win situation for the blogger and your company. Bloggers shore up their credibility and attract more readers to their blog as they ‘break the news’ of the exclusive interview. Companies answering the concerns of bloggers show that they are listening and willing to talk to their critics . Caution: Do not interview unless you are willing to accept responsibility (if your company erred) and offer a genuine response to the questions. This is especially important with gamers. Your message will not spread if you choose to be evasive or less than honest in the interview.

Pros: Bloggers love exclusive interviews. Gamers will appreciate you walking in front of the firing squad.

Cons: If you fail to take responsibility for actions made in error, you will be mercilessly flamed by the community resulting in another headache for you to deal with.

  • Join the conversation by posting in the comments section. Be sure to state your company affiliation and answer questions that have appeared in the comments. For example, if the community has concerns about a new policy your company has enacted explain the rationale behind the policy. Listen to their input. Are you achieving the desired goal of the policy?

Pros: You’ll learn valuable information from the gamers themselves which can guide and improve the way you communicate with the community in the future.

Cons: You’ll need a thick skin to do this effectively. This method demands rapid fire and genuine responses to questions and concerns. Comments riddled with evasive ‘corporate speak’ will be regarded as ‘BS’ and will not help you win back the people who have soured on your company’s brand. You will be flamed but it will likley be more intense than the flame war that would follow a botched interview.

In my next post, I’ll explain how Michael Gallagher of the Entertainment Software Association bombed his recent interview with Kotaku.com and how you can avoid the wrath of angry gamers.

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4 Responses to “Konami’s Gag Order on Game Reviewers: How Companies Should Respond to Critical Bloggers”

  1. 1 joel

    Great post with some concrete advice that applies to corporate blogger relations across the board.

  2. 2 bukolae

    Thanks Joel! Hopefully, more companies will develop an approach towards handling blogger criticism.

  3. 3 Patrick Nguyen

    Yes, indeed. Blogs have become so giant because of their nature of combining news with opinion. It is very important business-wise that companies remain in a positive light. One blog post could destroy a company, eg. Eidos and the Jeff Gerstmann situation.

  4. 4 bukolae

    You raise a very good point Patrick. If companies don’t join the conversation they allow consumers to doubt their sincerity. They also pass up an opportunity to consider and act on free consumer feedback! Some companies spend thousands on studies and consumer research. Blogs provide real and unfiltered customer feedback. That’s priceless.


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