Today in No, You’re Not a Company Spokesperson news: last week some gamer blogs let their readers know that the new Microsoft Xbox, scheduled for a reveal in May, will require users to maintain “an active internet connection” at all times. Now get ready for a shocker: some people who own Xboxes do not have access to an “always on” connection — and the geeks voiced their disapproval online.
Now for the PR Fail: This outrage irritated creative director Adam Orth, who took to his personal Twitter feed to let the world know it. This message started a conversation in which Orth told the concerned parties that they were just out of luck:Orth made a couple of mistakes here: first, he commented on a story that his employer had yet to announce publicly. More importantly, he effectively told members of his own fanbase to stop complaining.
Microsoft didn’t care for that one bit, and we’ll let Brad Pitt tell you why:
The day after the exchange, Xbox higher-up Larry Hyrb posted an apology that called Orth’s comments “inappropriate” and re-emphasized the fact that he did not speak for the company on Twitter or anywhere else. Some commentors seemed to think this incident was good PR for Xbox. It was not.
While Orth was obviously a big player on the Microsoft team with a hand in designing its new products, he was not in any way a company spokesman. By publicly commenting on an internal matter, he committed a cardinal sin — and paid for it with his job.
Last night the blog world revealed that Orth had resigned from the company a week after sending what Anthony Weiner might call “one fateful tweet.”
The saddest part of this story is that it was really just a tempest in a teapot, but it can teach us a valuable lesson: company employees must follow strict social media disclosure rules. These regulations may be annoying, but they can prevent completely unnecessary burnouts like this one.