Duke Nukem's PR Debacle: How to Tweet Yourself Out of a Job (Without Getting Naked)

Last Updated Jun 16, 2011 10:01 AM EDT

Be careful what you tweet. That cautionary tale applies not just to congressmen with funny names and football players (also with funny names), but also to everyday members of the business world.

James Redner, founder of the PR firm The Redner Group, learned this the hard way on Tuesday. Redner was the rep for 2K Games, publisher of the long-awaited videogame Duke Nukem Forever.

Over the weekend, early reviews started to pour in from sources like CNET, Wired, and even yours truly -- and most of them were not kind. Indeed, the Duke took a bigger beating from the press than he ever did from alien invaders.

Redner, no doubt frustrated by the drubbing, took to Twitter on Monday with the following rants:

Too many went too far with their reviews...we are reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn't based on today's venom.

Bad scores are fine. Venom filled reviews...that's completely different.

Whoops. That's not the worst PR gaffe I've ever seen, but it's a pretty big one. You don't threaten to punish reviewers because of bad reviews.

Redner, for his part, immediately followed up with a very sincere, contrite e-mail, apologizing profusely for acting "under pure emotion." But it wasn't enough: 2K Games fired The Redner Group, and I suspect it'll be tough for the firm to land new clients, at least short-term.

Like I said earlier: be careful what you tweet. And e-mail. And say in a voice-mail message. We live in the age of instant information dissemination, and while everyone needs to vent once in a while, it's crucial to consider the potential fallout.

My question for you: do you think 2K Games was right to fire Redner, or should the company have accepted his apology and moved on? I'm in the latter camp, as I don't think the tweets were that egregious. On the other hand, I'm not the owner of a major game publisher.

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.