The cleanup for one of the year’s biggest public-relations disasters continued last night at the place where the controversy first blew up big—social news site Reddit.
You may remember Moisés Chiullan. He’s the brave or foolhardy PR professional who’s been hired to sweep up the mess left by contractor Paul Christoforo at N-Control, a maker of video-game controllers.
The company had hired Christoforo to handle customer service and marketing on the cheap—a cost-cutting decision that proved to be a huge mistake.
Enter Chiullan, whom N-Control hired just three days ago to repair Christoforo’s damage. After laying out his plans to the Daily Dot’s Janet Kornblum Wednesday night, Chiullan took the damage control one step further: He decided to brave Reddit’s gauntlet himself by posting to the site’s live interview section, r/IAmA.
We’ve gone through the (often quite long) responses and posted some of the best exchanges below.
Q: What's your plan for this situation? (nerdrock101)
A: To be as transparent as possible about everything, including who really runs Avenger Controller (not Paul Christoforo, as some mistakenly still believe), correct misinformation that's out there, and give people a chance to judge for themselves and not throw the whole company over a cliff because Paul made them look bad.
My biggest plan is to make sure that Paul is done hurting N-Control (who make the Avenger).
Q: How did you get into the PR disaster clean-up business? From what I've read you've been doing this for a while, but how did you become the go to guy for PR clean ups? (Knacklefrug)
A: I haven't focused just on this kind of thing for a long time. It's a skill that I've used in all sorts of jobs since college. There are lots of project-management situations that involve crises and recovering from them. It's a skill that everyone should work on having in their toolkit. I enjoy challenges (same reason I like hard video games), and I thrive in a problem-solving environment. I wouldn't say that I have previously had a high-profile presence as a go-to cleanup guy or anything.
The worst thing anyone can do is limit the internal communication of their organization. Lack of communication and a propensity toward avoiding conflict and confrontation are poisonous to growing an identity.
Q: Can you tell us more about the phone call you had with [Christoforo]? (paranoidkiwie)
A: I've spoken to Paul many, many times over the last few days.
One of the main things that I've learned about him is that he is most concerned about the well-being of his wife and small child, along with his ability to make a living. I can respect and appreciate those things objectively. What I've also learned is that he is partial to protecting those interests without any consideration given to common courtesy or professional engagement.
[Note: This is abridged; the full response is worth reading.]
Q: Any reason for the strangely imbalanced reviews on Amazon, prior to the PennyArcade incident? (badjournalism)
A: Here's a big admission that I've told N-Control they had to make once I found out: Some of the positive reviews, like the early ones you mention, were definitely planted. Who did what extent of planting has been difficult to ascertain. The owner has admitted to me that he did one himself. He had a feeling that others were done to fluff the reputation of the product by people who wanted it to succeed. Possibly friends, family, and so on. Possibly those with a business interest in it succeeding. He nor I will speculate that Paul was behind those, but we can't categorically deny that.
What I'll put here and now is that I've informed N-Control in no uncertain terms that if they participate in any further planting of reviews, that I'll walk immediately and not look back. That's the kind of thing that tons of small startups do every day to improve their reputation, but that doesn't make it right.
Q: Fun fact: If you Google "moise ncontrol", Google will ask you if you meant "noise control", which is oddly fitting. (ende76)
A: I'm so, so, SO exhausted right now. You should know that laughing at this almost cost me my lungs coughing.
And with that, Chiullan took a nap.