The Magic community has been fraught with scandals over the last year, many of which landed (or started) right on Wizards’ doorstep. Wizards takes a very old school and home grown approach to marketing, but unfortunately it’s also extremely out of date. Marketing is an extremely complex field—decisions normally must be made quickly and the goal posts are constantly moving. In order to stay up to date with best practices it takes a lot of work.

During the day you’ll find me working as a Marketing and Community Relations Coordinator. I went to school for public relations and I actually find the field quite fascinating. I currently work for a large non-profit, so I deal with many of the same issues that Wizards’ marketing team does. From designing social media posts, to fielding questions from the community, to dealing with small crises; no matter what field you’re in the basic tenets of marketing along with best practices remain the same. This experience though has left a bitter taste in my mouth regarding Wizards’ marketing style—it feels very out of date in a way that leaves them appearing disconnected from their audiences.

Most recently, the Dominaria FAQ was leaked nearly two months before release, much to the dismay of many players. Several hours later, right at the close of day, Wizards released a statement about the leak, confirming that the leak was unfortunately real due to a mistake on their end. Leaks aren’t new to Wizards—they seem to happen almost every set these days—and every leak seems to be bigger than the last.

A huge part of Marketing and Public Relations is Crisis Management. It was a large part of my training both in school and in multiple jobs I’ve worked since. There are a few best practices that are hammered into your head when learning about crisis management: always be honest, respond quickly, and be available for communication. Wizards was definitely honest with us, so they hit that (very important) nail right on the head, but the second two tenets they unfortunately failed. It is not best practices to wait until end of day to respond. Procedures to handle leaks like this should be included in their crisis management plan. It is also especially bad to release statements end of day if there won’t be anyone available to field questions right after the statement is released, as then there is no one to manage the community response.

Case in point, a couple weeks ago Wizards updated their policy on fan-made content. This also dropped right before the end of the day, and fans and content creators alike had many questions. Unfortunately, Wizards released the policy and then logged off for the day, leaving fans in a frenzy—something that should have been expected. Information spreads like wildfire in the Magic community (see above leak) and with that panic spreads equally quickly. A company as large as Wizards should definitely have community relations coordinators on hand when these announcements come out to answer any possible questions. The original statement should be as clear as possible to assist in guiding messaging; unfortunately, Wizards still has not cleared up people’s questions regarding this policy which is especially damaging in this case since it affects so many content creators that give back to the community.

These are far from the only scandals that have rocked the Magic community in the last year, and they are far from the only ones that Wizards has been criticized in their handling of. I don’t work there, so I can’t say what’s causing this to happen over and over again. It could be red tape; it could be upper management; it could be the marketing team; or any number of other things. I do hope that as time goes on they continue to improve their responses to these crises if only for the health of the community that I love so much and for the health of the company that makes the game that means so much to me.

Kate hails from Worcester MA and also does a bit of Card Altering. Check her Stuff out on Facebook! She mainly plays legacy and modern though will occasionally find herself playing EDH.

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