How not to deal with a bad review

PR companies naturally crave good reviews for their clients’ products and are bound to be disappointed when that doesn’t happen.

Different companies seem to have different ways of dealing with bad reviews. Some just take it on the chin, some go cold with the journalist for a while and others simply assume the journalist doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Today I got into an e-mail conversation with the director of PR company who expressed her “surprise” at the bad review* I gave to a client’s product recently. Apparently I was the only one to do so and she felt in future it would be best if someone was sent out with the review units to ensure I was “getting the best” from the devices. She concluded the e-mail by saying “Maybe you weren’t aware of the key features [of the device]?”.

The basic suggestion here was that I didn’t ‘get it’ and that there was no problem with the product, just with me. The fact that allegedly no-one else gave the device a bad review cemented this idea for her, as clearly I was the odd one out for giving an “unnecessary bad review”.

I took issue with her suggestion that my bad review was a result of ignorance and the back-tracking reply was that sending someone out was now the client’s general policy for all journalists, not just me.

It is very rare that a good product truly needs a one-to-one tutorial to make it understandable to the user; in most cases it just means it’s unintuitive junk. It also affords the reviewer something that the average consumer would not have and so risks removing any fair representation of a device a review would have.

For those two reasons alone I won’t be accepting any review units that come with an assistant to “help” me use the device. I also won’t put up with any attempt by PR companies to patronise me into giving good reviews.

* The truth is it wasn’t even a bad review – it was a sub-par review.

“TV3″ Sports on the horizon?

An interesting line in The Irish Times’ grim report of Setanta Sport’s financial troubles suggests that Doughty Hanson, owner of TV3 and 3e in Ireland, could make a bid for the sports broadcaster in the coming days.

Setanta has found itself facing administration after years of rapid expansion and Doughty Hanson is seen as a potential bidder should the company – or parts of it – come on the market. Doughty Hanson already owns 20% of Setanta and has pumped significant money into the station in return.

Should Doughty take control of Setanta it would also gain an 80% holding of Setanta Sports Ireland, which The Irish Times claims is making a modest profit. If so-called synergies were found between Setanta and Doughty’s TV3 this profit margin could grow higher (although it’s unlikely that re-naming the station under the TV3 brand would be part of that).

To make things even more interesting the consortium run by TV3, Setanta and Eircom now hold the Irish DTT licence, opening the door-way for even greater co-operation should Doughty buy up the struggling sports broadcaster.

That fact in itself could create competition concerns but the ones most likely to be truly worried are in RTÉ, who would see the hand of their main rival grow all the stronger in a short space of time.