Some Thoughts on the Ocean Marketing Story

As I read through all of this Ocean Marketing stuff, a few thoughts came to mind that I wanted to share.

The situation reminds me of my own story about Sports Legends Challenge. The more I read about Paul Christoforo and, especially, his follow up messages and everything that he has said after the blow up, it sounds similar. He gives off the impression that he’s not sorry – he’s just sorry he got caught. SLC was the same way.

It’s the classic marketer or PR mistake. This person is unimportant, let’s ignore him or put him down. This person is important, let’s treat him very well. Eventually, that will burn you.

The problem is that you never know who a person knows. That’s why you should strive to do right by all. That nobody with 12 followers may just be best buddies with someone you really want. Or may be a member of their community. As was the case here.

I don’t care if you treat me awesomely, if you treat one of my friends like garbage.

I think Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade was right to call him out and to use his voice to put this guy, and those like him, on notice. I applaud him for it.

Mr. Christoforo’s email responses, circulating online, are hilariously bad. Having received my fair share of threatening messages over the years, I definitely have a sense for these online big shots. Call out every last one of them, as far as I’m concerned. He doesn’t receive any sympathy on that.

And he’s not doing anything to really earn anyone’s sympathy, either. The interview he gave to MSNBC’s In-Game is just piling more on top. Part of me wishes it would stop, that someone who cares about him would pull him aside. Maybe there is no hope for that.

Though, I have one caveat to all of this. There are people proclaiming this as some sort of victory for the internet, speaking as representative of the internet and all of those things. I’m always leery about that stuff.

If you are claiming this as a victory for the internet, you must also be willing to admit and accept the responsibility for the failures of the internet. Anyone who personally threatened Mr. Christoforo or his family was out of line. Anyone who hounded his wife, was out of line. Anyone contacting him through non-business means of contact – out of line.

While it is possible that his comment about his wife and kid being threatened could be untrue, it is unlikely that all of what I just said has not occurred. I’d be shocked if that was the case. Some people go too far. Live by the mob, die by the mob. Be careful.

The unfortunate thing in this situation is that some people online on the “good” side are just as bad as Mr. Christoforo or worse. This guy writing an absolutely horrifically bad and disrespectful chain of email messages, and making it worse by what he has said since, should not compel you to physically threaten anyone, to stalk anyone or to anything like that.

If you want to tell him his business practices are terrible and you will never support anything he does – OK, fine. If you want to spread the word so people know about this story – good.

Just know where the line is – or you may start to make Mr. Christoforo look good.

Patrick O'Keefe

Managing online communities since 2000, I publish a collective of websites known as the iFroggy Network. I wrote the book Managing Online Forums and, as a public speaker, have presented for organizations like CNN, institutions like Australian National University and conferences like SXSW. More about me.

2 Comments

Ryan Imel

about 3 years ago

Good thoughts, but I'll disagree with you on one point. "The problem is that you never know who a person knows. That’s why you should strive to do right by all." I would argue one should strive to do right by all because it's the right way to be, not for fear of consequence. Whether a person knows someone "important" or not, they deserve to be treated with respect. (Also, if there were a "notify me of replies" checkbox below this form, I would check it. :))

Reply

Patrick

about 3 years ago

Hey Ryan, Thanks for that. I agree with it, certainly. So, nothing to disagree with there. But, people will always try to pursue "influencers." That existed long before the internet. What you don't want to get lost in, and what my point was in writing the linked article (http://www.managingcommunities.com/2011/09/09/community-building-influencers/) was that the idea of influencers can bite you because even if someone is not an "influencer," in your eyes, they can be connected to one. I appreciate the feedback on the reply notification. Will be adding that at some point. Thanks, Patrick

Reply

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