PRSA says threatening to blacklist media ‘certainly not what comprises ethical PR’

A representative from the Public Relations Society of America chides a PR firm that tweeted a warning to critics of its clients.

Blacklisting the media—the Public Relations Society of America says it’s a no-no.

On Wednesday, an official from the trade group weighed in on news that the Redner Group, a PR firm hired to promote the popular video game “Duke Nukem,” threatened to blacklist writers who gave the game lousy reviews.

PRSA’s Keith Trivitt said this sort of practice defies a “core tenet of public relations.”

The controversy began when the firm’s owner, James Redner, sent this tweet:

“#AlwaysBetOnDuke 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”

He later deleted it, but not before websites picked it up.

Trivitt, the associate director of PR at the Public Relations Society of America, offered this comment to a Wired story about the incident:

“Kudos to you for standing up for media freedoms and making the point that threatening to blacklist journalists ‘sends a chilling message to those who review games professionally.’ I can tell you that it is most certainly not what comprises ethical public relations practices, and is not something we condone for our members or the broader profession.

“While it is unfortunate that The Redner Group took to such a public forum to public rebuke media outlets that had negatively reviewed Duke Nukem, it is encouraging to see that Jim Redner realizes his remarks went too far and were detrimental to the positive relationship that businesses and the media most foster.

“From an ethical public relations perspective, we advocate for businesses to both respect the media and to be open to providing accurate information in a forthright manner to all media outlets that request such information. Threatening to punish publications that do not write favorable reviews for a product or service goes against a core tenet of ethical public relations regarding the protection and advancement of the free flow of accurate and truthful information that is essential to serving the public interest and contributing to informed decision making in a democratic society.”

As Trivitt noted, Redner backtracked on his tweet, telling ars technica he never intended to bully anyone and that he overreacted. Redner also tweeted an apology.

Advertising Age reports this morning that 2K, the company behind the video game, dropped the Redner Group. In a statement, 2K 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.”

Redner has worked with 2K since 2009 on various projects, Ad Age said.


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