Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sony Still Losing Hit Points

Sony is still reeling from the hack attack on the PlayStation Network that exposed 77 million customers to possible theft of their personal information. Sony's not sure if any credit card info was taken, but then there's this story: Supposedly 2.2 million credit card numbers are up for sale on some underground message boards, with sellers claiming to have taken them from Sony. Of course, it's not clear if this is just someone trying to capitalize on the publicity or the actual thieves, but it's not good news for Sony either way.

Now we have an Australian man who had $2000 in charges run up on his credit card, and he thinks Sony is the source for the credit card info. Again, bad news for Sony either way... the PR hits just keep accumulating. Sony's PR efforts have been rather lame at best, with a few blog posts and vague reassurances. Many users are pissed that Sony took so long to figure out there might be a credit card problem, and to reveal facts to users about the breach.

I think it's clear Sony is carefully trying to avoid saying anything that might help a lawsuit against it... and lawyers are already filing class action suits against Sony. But Sony has other problems... like preserving its positive brand name, and trying to get a handle on this issue before E3. The nightmare scenario is that Sony spends its E3 press time talking about the breach rather than new products. Some observers have not been kind regarding Sony's efforts so far, like this one. I think Sony is going to have to step up its efforts in a major way in order to avoid worse effects down the line.

Take some PR lessons from Sony's experience. If you have a major problem, try to get out in front of the story. Communicate a lot. Avoid the passive voice, own up to the problem, explain how you are dealing with it, and tell the customers what you're going to do for them to make it right. Bad things do happen to good companies; but good companies show they can handle it adroitly. So far, Sony looks more like a deer in the headlights than a calm, confident videogame hero about to solve a problem.

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