Originally Posted by aegies
PR wants lots of things. Very rarely do they get them.
I know that those events don't positively move my opinion, because I've been on them. When I started, the idea was neat, but the reality was pretty clear pretty quickly.
Using captivate as an example, it is in large part specifically to get their employees in one place and happy. A lot of these trips happen at specific times of year so that PR departments can use up their budget surplus in order to keep getting the same amount from the publisher the next year.
Most PR people are actually pretty professional, and generally know to keep an appropriate professional relationship. If they get too chummy, it's a no-win for them. It's more likely that enthusiast audiences will think poorly of the game if they think a member of the press has been bought by PR.
Have you been to one of these events? I'm genuinely curious. I've never attended one where there was pressure to do anything more than attend the appointment times that were made for me. This pressure that you and others have attached to them is not in keeping with the experience I and other members of the press I regularly see at them have.
I don't see these trips as gifts, particularly because I end up paying for them now that I work for Polygon. The games I review or write about aren't "my friends' game." They're games from a company with who I am not friendly, because they're not people. The developers are, but I'm not reviewing them either. You can keep talking about how these things influence people to reflect more kindly on titles, but I am hard pressed to think of a single example in the last several years of a reputable outlet that gave super positive coverage out of an event like this for a game that wasn't generally received positively anyway.
Your accusations aren't based on fact, they're based on suspicion. And if I have to choose between catering to your suspicion and sacrificing coverage or serving our audience and, say, getting a preview of Resident Evil 6, or reviewing Halo 4 in a timely manner, that's not a hard decision to make. It's not out of spite to you, and I'll do it as ethically as possible by disclosing those trips. I want to be transparent about it.
I'm sorry if you guys don't buy that, and I really am sorry if that means you can't trust me. But it's the truth.
No insult, no finger-pointing intended in the following.
Pharmaceutical company companies extensively research physicians' hobbies and personal interests, send attractive spokespeople to "inform" said physicians about their products over three-star michelin meals and golf games. Without exception, these physicians insist that they are immune to unethical influence.
Corporations like Coca Cola spend $10 billion a year or more on advertising campaigns with messages that college undergrads -- here I'm speaking from experience as a former instructor -- unfailingly insist they're uniquely insusceptible to.
Either these corporations are somehow recklessly burning revenue by the billions and somehow raking in unprecedented profit despite the sheer stupidity of their business practices or people are prone to maintain flattering though entirely unrealistic images of themselves. Unfortunately for us, replicated psychology experiments point to pervasive self-deception. Fortunately for us, while it's practically impossible for us to accurately monitor our own self-interest, we're marvelous at pointing it out in others. And this is the why the appearance of impropriety matters so much.
Tomes of research on the topic are out there and anyone remotely interested in cognition will encounter the experiments again and again. For those unfamiliar with it I recommend starting here: http://www.amazon.com/Honest-Truth-D...ally+Ourselves