There are still plenty of people who don’t know how huge the video game industry is. On average, around ten gaming titles make as much or more as Hollywood’s #1 hit every year. In 2020, industry revenue reached nearly $180 billion. Just to compare (and to be fair by using the last pre-COVID year), the NFL and the NBA combined made around $24 billion in 2019.
Who knew that there was so much money in saving princesses, shooting red barrels and boss fights?
Video game PR pros, that’s who.
Behind the familiar names, franchises, characters and corporations of the game industry, teams of public relations specialists are tasked with the same challenges as their colleagues in other, let’s say, less fun business sectors.
Everyone in gaming PR has the same goals as their counterparts in other fields, too. Many of the same rules apply, of course, but some unique aspects of the gaming world create extra opportunities to engage with journalists and others and leverage those connections into publicity.
Let’s take a look at some tips for doing effective video game PR.
A massive segment of the media is devoted to gaming and they need content. Give it to them.
The size of the gaming media is as proportionally huge as the gaming industry itself. This goes well beyond top gaming journalists to an incredibly deep and extensive community of casual fans, superfans, fanboys, amateur enthusiasts, and professional journalists. And all of them are subject to the same rule that governs other media—Content is King.
In the relentless news cycle of the current media age, the lifespan of most pieces of content is quite short. All those media platforms dedicated to covering the world of video games are locked in a never-ending quest for new content. This opens the door to anyone who realizes that there are tons of news angles to any game release.
Just look at the huge variety of topics you can drip feed into the rushing current of content:
- A new gameplay clip
- New images of characters, vehicles, worlds or other game elements
- Lore that sets the backstory of the game
- News about voice actors
- Profiles of the composer of original game music
- Contests for community members
- Character and enemy profiles
- Detailed accounts of weapons, settings, fighting systems, etc. used in the game
- News from people involved in the production of the game (see below)
- Third-party reviews of the game
- News about early releases and Beta versions
We could go on but that should be enough to make it clear that your biggest challenge isn’t finding something to attract journalists and other influencers, it’s trying to prioritize the many pieces of content you have to share with an eager audience.
Gaming PR needs the right tools for the job
Yes, this applies to PR work in all fields but it’s always worth a mention. There’s no excuse for not upping your own game when it comes to streamlining your PR activities and video game PR is no different.
An online newsroom is especially helpful. It’s a dedicated online space, with your name in the URL, that can be branded to match your visual identity. You can use the online newsroom to post live, updated versions of all the materials you want to share with the press. Instead of sending things like press releases as attachments in your emails and asking people to download them—what is this, 2006?—you can simply include a link to transport any contacts straight to your online newsroom.
Access to a curated, professional journalist database will also help you set a new PR high score. When expanding your reach beyond your existing network of contacts, it’s easy to spend way too much time searching for the right journalists in the right publications or with the right focuses. You may not find them at all or might end up knocking on the wrong doors.
With an updated, organized database you can search by whatever criteria makes it easiest for you to create a solid video game press list. The savings in time and efficiency alone are worth it. Throw in the probability that it will seriously increase the quality of the contacts you make and the increased likelihood of media coverage that comes with it, then using a media database is a no-brainer.
You’ve got a huge team of perfect candidates for an interview—use them
If you’re part of the PR team for a company that makes, say, automotive parts, it might be a tough sell to offer interviews with people on the factor floor. Who wants to talk to the guy who runs a machine all day?
But everything is different when you work on a creative product that tens of millions of people invite into their homes. When you work for a video game company, almost everyone who works behind the scenes makes for an interesting interview subject. Use this to your advantage.
There are people on the creative, artistic and technical teams who can be the perfect hook to gain media interest. Think of the difference between “We’d like to discuss our new title” and “We’d like to discuss our new title and we can make the Lead Character Artist, Head Story Artist or Technical Lead available to you”.
These interviews, often on camera, are great for promoting both the game and the studio or publisher behind it. If possible, have a dedicated area for on-camera interviews in your facility and provide basic media training for anyone in a position to speak with journalists.
Remember, meeting key members of the production team behind a video game can be an irresistible temptation when pitching the media. Use access to them as an enticement to your media contacts.
Also, when building your media list, be sure to note which contacts most value these kinds of interviews. Contact them first when it’s time to start a new campaign and see what you can get in exchange for an exclusive chat.
Have lots of graphic assets organized and ready to go
Video games are a visual medium and media coverage always includes some kind of graphic. As part of your relationship with gaming industry media contacts, it’s up to you to create as many graphic assets for each title as you can to complement information you share with journalists.
This means graphic stills and video. This means both long and short-form video. This means graphic stills of multiple resolutions and sizes. This means the game’s logo and just about anything and everything else that might accompany a feature article about your video game.
It often happens that editors will make last-minute decisions about which stories and features make the cut in the daily selection of their content. It’s not unusual for an email to show up in an inbox, offering coverage if you can get everything, including all the visuals, to them now. Make life easy for journalists and editors by sharing an extensive library of ready assets to choose from.
Graphic assets are just as important as texts that you share about a game in your portfolio. The success of your gaming PR efforts depends on them.
Engage with your community
The online communities that form around studios, games, characters and game universes is a cultural phenomenon. If you’ve ever seen a game community up close, you know that they’re really engaged. There is no topic that’s even remotely related to a game title that won’t be endlessly discussed, debated and examined from every angle.
In other words, these are people who are very interested in anything you have to say about a game and are ready to repeat it everywhere they can. If you can develop a friendly relationship with representatives of that community—especially those with their own platforms on social media and Youtube—they can amplify and echo your message.
It’s worth taking some time just to explore these communities as a visitor to see what they’re talking about and how you can integrate with them. And don’t be surprised when you discover that fans of your games have their own impressively large audiences.
Gamer communities are a public relations goldmine. Any game PR company should build as many bridges as possible with its followers. What could be better than a huge online fan base that is constantly on the lookout for any kind of news about what you’re paid to promote?
Video games present the same PR opportunities as any other industry, except more
Different segments of the industry have different needs when it comes to video game PR. There are development studios that make games but don’t publish them and there are other studios that do. There are publishers that get titles out to the gaming public but don’t make games themselves while other publishers do. It’s complicated.
Whether trying to attract the attention of industry insiders to get a publishing deal or directing their PR efforts towards getting coverage for their games in both specialist and general media platforms, the ultimate goal is the same. Success in connecting with others and promoting your titles in the video game industry means following the same basic rules that apply in any business.
But the creative nature of games and their association with fun and entertainment open extra doors of opportunity for gaming PR activities. Use them and see how much easier it is to enter beast mode, take down the final boss and unlock the best achievement of all—PR success!