Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Paul Christoforo Story: PR Failure to Internet Meme In Less Than 24 Hours

Today much of the enthusiast video game community have been abuzz talking about the saga of Paul Christoforo and the Avenger video game controller add-on for the Xbox 360 and PS3 Controllers. When Dave, a concerned customer that had bought the Avenger product early this month, sent a concerned email to Paul Christoforo, the now-former PR representative for the Avenger product, he received several unfortunate and unprofessional responses from Paul.

Instead of cancelling his order outright, Dave decided to take matters into his own hands and included several online press outlets and Mike Krahulik from Penny Arcade in his email correspondences with Paul. From there, it is safe to say things spread across the Internet pretty quickly. If you want to catch up on the ridiculous drama check out Kotaku's excellent coverage or see the dirty laundry in all its glory on Penny Arcade.

Paul Christoforo's unfortunate decisions have left him without a job and have directly damaged the reputation of the Avenger product, as enraged netizens have embarked on a path of Internet justice by review-bombing the Avenger product page on Amazon and other outlets. The drama also has unearthed some rather damaging information about Paul and N-Control, the company behind the Avenger product. Kotaku dug up some unsavory information on Paul's potential use of estrogen and some more information on N-Control's   inability to deliver their products to customers on a timely basis.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this PR nightmare is tracking the news as it spread across the Internet like wildfire in less than a day. Paul Christoforo is on the Internet fast-track to becoming a image-board meme, as the news has become a popular discussion point on various large community websites. The drama has spun beyond the control of N-Control and Paul Christoforo, with Paul being forced to close his old @OceanMarketing Twitter account, and N-Control unable to release an official statement in response due to the speed of which events publicly unfolded.

While there are several fairly obvious public relations lessons to learn here, one of the sad things that all of this drama has unfortunately reinforced is the dangers of ordering third-party products. N-Control's history of poor product management has not given anybody faith in quality nor the services associated with third party peripherals, and I am sure that many vendors and manufacturers are not laughing along with much of the Internet community at Paul Christoforo's rise of Internet infamy.

Sources: Penny Arcade, Kotaku (1) (2)

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