Guest blog written by Maggie Hassler

In a news release issued Dec. 5, 2007, established PR agency boldly states “60% of US consumers polled agree that the government should regulate the sale of violent or mature video games.”  The extensive news release only reports negative findings for the video game industry. 

Results from the survey the PR agency decided to omit include two thirds of 18 to 34-year olds play video games and fewer than 20 percent of Americans think playing games is a negative way to spend time with friends and family. 

While the “complete survey results are available for download,” the agency intentions are in question.  It is clear the agency spun the story to portray a negative consumer opinion of the gaming industry, shortly after the Electronic Software Association (ESA) chose a different PR firm to represent them. 

According to the Washington Post, the association’s spokesperson Dan Hewitt said, “The release of only part of the findings paints an inaccurate picture of the entertainment software industry.”  You said it Dan!  This is a perfect example of destructive spin. 

Not only is it destructive to the video and computer game makers, but it is also destructive to the PR profession.  Isolated incidences such as this add to our reputations as manipulators of the truth.  In this situation, the PR agency was not even representing a client.  Sadly, it seems the agency acted out of retribution, making us all look bad. 

To avoid situations like this in the future, a PR agency needs to divulge information in the most transparent way possible, especially when reporting information on an industry the agency is not currently representing.

With some PR agencies participating in self destructive behavior, others have to work twice as hard to expel the “spin doctor” reputation given to all PR agencies everywhere.  It starts with us.