Some of you may remember that last year I created a petition asking Wizards of the Coast to make the art in D&D Next more diverse than that of previous editions. The petition closed in February, it got 650 signatures, and since then I have been trying to get Wizards to give a response to the petition.
I made contact with Wizards’ PR guy John Leroy in April. The fact that the only public contact point with Wizards is a PR company didn’t exactly fill me with hope, and unfortunately my fears turned out to be justified. After asking me to send him the petition, John entered radio silence. I’ve chased him every few weeks since I sent him the petition, and he has failed to reply (and yes, I did check my spam box). I darkly suspect that the petition never made it past the PR department.
I think that when hundreds of your customers tell you they want something you should at least give them a respectful response. Ignoring them outright – well, let’s say I’m not impressed. I don’t necessarily expect them to change their art policy (though obviously I want them to) but to ignore the petition outright shows a lack of respect.
I would encourage those who signed the petition (or anyone who thinks they ought to reply) to contact John Leroy at 360 degrees PR. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. (Note that this is a corporate address, not a personal address; I would never share a personal email address in this way.) Alternatively you could tweet them at @360pr, perhaps including Wizards customer service @Wizards_CS. Let them know your views.
2 thoughts to “D&D petition update”
I don’t work for 360, but I do work for a big PR agency (more than 5 years now) and have done work in the tabletop games industry. So although I don’t know for SURE what happened, what PROBABLY happened is that John passed along the petition to his client at Wizards, along with a high-level summary and a recommendation on what to do about it. The client then made the decision on how to respond.
Now, this part is pure speculation but it’s something I’ve seen in the past. The internal response may not have been as black and white as “Yes, we’re going to do what they want” or “No, we’re not going to do what they want.” It may have been, “Okay, we’ll certainly keep this in mind as we’re thinking about the art. But we aren’t willing to commit ourselves to a particular approach, or we don’t want to reveal what our plans are just yet, so don’t reply.” John may or may not have agreed with this response.
Having a PR person as your public-facing contact is actually really, really good. It means that your contact is someone whose full-time job consists of paying attention to what you want and doing their best to accommodate it given the realities of the business.
The designers, developers, art directors, illustrators and layout artists have other full-time jobs to do. Also, those people have little or no experience in working with the public — if you send them a petition, they will probably either forward it to PR to deal with, or it will be ignored because it’s something that’s not supposed to be coming to them.
Thanks for commenting Wade. I hope you’re right about what happened, but it begs the question, why have my subsequent emails to John been ignored? I would expect that in a positive, outward facing department of any kind (whether a PR agency or in-house) you would want to ensure that every customer received a reply to their queries, especially if they did go to the client and got a decision out of them. The minimum I’d expect is “thanks for your petition – here are a few derisory lines on what Wizards is already doing to make our art better and which mean we don’t need to pay any attention to what you say”. Or even just “thanks for the petition, Wizards have considered your comments carefully”. TBH that’s exactly what I was expecting! A total lack of response… well, as a professional what do you make of it?