Listen to an interview with a gamer . . .
I asked for it . . .Yesterday I did a live question and answer session for public relations students. On the call I asked for questions that I could answer on my blog. Here's one of them that came in today:
Psychologist's Book Slammed on Amazon After Fox News Debacle: Might this bad publicity ultimately be GOOD for her book sales?
Here's where the question came from . . .
On Fox TV this week, author Cooper Lawrence commented on virtual nudity in video games in a story about Mass Effect, which set off a massive PR explosion.
According to Game Daily's post mentioned above, on Thursday negative reviews for Lawrence's book, The Cult of Perfection, numbered 565, 502 [1-star] and 48 [2-stars]. Now that Amazon.com is reviewing and censoring negative ratings for The Cult of Perfection, the book's amazon.com forum is buzzing with 45 discussions about the book and this practice.
I could stop here and answer, "No, this kind of bad publicity is NOT good for book sales." But, the surrounding media attention is good for name recognition.
And, because one question always leads to another, I'll add in: How far can you go with gamers -from a PR perspective?
First, let's take a look at Cooper Lawrence.
With a radio show, The Love Doctor! - a dating and advice column - in CosmoGirl, mega media clips and several books, Lawrence appears to have mastered marketing.
From Cooper Lawrence's site:
COOPER LAWRENCE is a relationship and psychology expert with a master's degree in developmental psychology. She is currently finishing her doctorate in applied developmental psychology. She is the host of her own nationally syndicated radio show aptly named The Cooper Lawrence Show.
Key phrases from Lawrence's book "Been There, Done That, Kept the Jewelry: Find True Love--Turn Your Tarnished Dating Past into a Brilliant Romantic Future" on Amazon.com suggest she's a relationship or dating expert.
Back to question one: Might this bad publicity ultimately be GOOD for her book sales?
The biggest problem here is a mismatch. Lawrence's new book is about overachieving; her column is about dating. Will commenting on virtual nudity in any video game sell more books about women's self-esteem or dating? What does calling a video gaming expert "darling" on the air say about respect in a relationship? Do her readers date guys who play video games? What, exactly, is her niche?
I have to wonder why Ms. Lawrence was asked to step in to take this stand. With her level of media exposure and influence, it's surprising that her publicist would agree to this assignment.
To be credible [and sell books], subject matter experts must match their interviews to their exact topic. And, they have to be sure there's something to talk about before they take the interview. In this case, there was no real controversy to debate, only misinformation to contest afterwards.
Never mind the book sales, the publicity here is HUGE. So, who's winning? Today's New York Times reports Ms. Lawrence's apology, but whose story is it? For one of the better takes on the reaction and a video from X-Play's Adam Sessler, check out Joystiq's coverage.
On to question two: How far can you go with gamers - from a PR perspective?
Take a look at how Mass Effect, the name of the game, also describes what happens when you take a misstep into the video game culture.
Gauging the Gamer Reaction to Cooper Lawrence
1995 Diggs as of this moment
A brief interview brought down book sales and opened up a new levels of criticism. Lawrence already apologized, but is that enough?
What do gamers think? I decided to find out. Going straight to the source, I interviewed a gamer about sex in video games, Mass Effect and whether or not gamers cared about what a psychologist has to say: listen to an audio interview with a gamer.
Gamers sound a lot like bloggers: frequently misunderstood, often perceived as misfits, passionate about our games/subjects, willing to communicate and create virtually, always ready to get to the next level, don't mind spending hours or days in front of a screen and we enjoy meeting up with each other - both virtually and offline.
Studying the video game culture is smart marketing. Watch the launch campaigns, study the game sites, see how communities relate and check out the titles for ideas on how to attract an audience of raving fans. Playing the games will give you a feel for how to build up a challenge, develop characters and lay out storylines. From a PR perspective, know that gamers are ready to respond, react, defend and defeat en masse. So, be careful when you comment, especially when you haven't played the game and you're on national TV.
Helping out gamers can bring you good attention, though. I know from personal experience. In November 2007, I wrote about how we got the Nintendo Wii in eight minutes. But, wait a minute, this IS a PR blog - right? Well, yeah, but . . . after telling the story to everyone I knew, I just had to retell it here. So I did. At last count over 800 people have read it and hopefully our tips paid off for a few other families.
Know what you're talking about before your criticize - anything. Controversy polarizes audiences and can get you mega attention: both good and bad. Before you go there, consider how you'll feel when the swarm against you stings all at once. When you make a mistake, apologize immediately. Be true to yourself and your audience. And if you want to sell more books? Make sure your publicity - good or bad - attracts attention from a supportive audience.
Care to leave a constructive comment?