I’ll spare you the details of my bio in this post – you can read all about me on my company site HERE or by clicking on my name on the right side of this page… suffice to say, I’m not only brilliant, I’m also incredibly good looking.
I’d like to start off by jumping a bit deeper into an “overview” topic that sprang out of my Twitter update yesterday:
“Being successful in video game PR is about being REALLY into PR, not video games; loving games is what turns the job into a career.”
Because of the writing that I do both on my personal blog (prflak.wordpress.com) and on the official Maverick PR site (mavpr.com) [beware of that shameless plug], I get a pretty solid stream of email from aspiring video game PR professionals from around the world who are interested in learning more about how the industry works and what you need to do to be successful. It’s a real pleasure to share my advice and thoughts with them and I was really thinking of them when I made that Twitter update as a reminder as they move forward.
Given the list of contributors on this site, I’m pretty sure we have experienced very similar reactions from strangers when we inevitably tell them what we do for work. Let me demonstrate with a short scene:
ME: Me? Oh, I do PR for video games.
ME: Ya, you know… Public Relations. Essentially… I… promote video games.
THEM: Oh, awesome! So you get to play all the games before they come out and, like, make the game?
ME: No, no. I work to get press to write things about the games. Hopefully nice things. I call and email people. I visit offices and events and show off games before they come out. Then, press write about the game.
THEM: Oh… that’s cool… Huh… it must be awesome to get paid to play games all day long!
This happens on an almost weekly basis. People have about as much understanding of “PR for Video Games” as Michael Vick has an understanding of “Human Decency.” Oh snap! I went there!
Part of me wants to think that it’s willing misunderstanding; that people hear “games” and just want to think “fun.” And our work, for the most part, is fun, but if someone told me they did PR for the Celtics, I wouldn’t say “Wow! It must be awesome to shoot around with Paul and KG before every game!!”
Most of the people who email me for advice are legitimate PR/marketing students who just want to work with products that interest them. And that’s an important goal for any career – work with something that interests you. But I do occasionally get emails from people just looking to “get into video games” because they love Halo or they’re a really active forum leader or they have a Guild and they’re thinking “Wait a minute, I can talk about games… maybe I can just get into PR and play games all day and eventually become a designer!”
To these people, my Twitter update was a wake up call — video games is a business like any other.
You need to work hard, produce results and excel at your craft.
You need to execute against a plan and fulfill measurable objectives.
You need to work within a budget and utilize creativity in ways that provide a tangible return on your investment of time and resources.
You need to strategically plan information reveals, exclusives, previews, reviews, features and more with multiple press segments and niche vertical publications over the course of 8-18 months and then fulfill that plan while updating it nearly weekly along the way.
Oh, and by the way… the game needs to perform strongly on Trax and Metrics AND reach sell-through targets set by sales and executives.
That’s about as far from sitting in a room playing video games all day as you can get. One of the first things out my mouth to kids who ask about how to get into the industry is: Go to college. Get good grades. Be the best student in your class. Take an internship in consumer products. Then think about getting into the VG industry by entering your chosen field.
But don’t get me wrong — as I’ve said before, in this industry, playing video games – both the one you’re working on and competitive titles – is critical to becoming a true success. Here’s what I said in a previous blog post on MavPR.com:
I know, there are PR people out there who say “I’m a PR person first, not a developer. Show me a product and I can promote it; I don’t need to be able to actually play it.” To that, I politely say BULLSHIT.
If you aren’t playing the game as well as competitive titles, you are not going to be a great video game PR person. I wouldn’t hire you… in fact, I would fire you. You’re doing just enough to complete the job rather than trying to excel.
My general rule of thumb is… if I’m on a PR trip and my producer becomes ill, am I confident that I can demo the game myself and be effective? Can I execute the key moves, finish the entire level without dying (without cheats), and talk at length about game details and competitive advantages? If the answer is yes, you’re on top of things, if you aren’t sure – you aren’t playing enough.
The bottom line is this: if you don’t play your own game then you’re more full of shit than PR people are generally accused of. And yes – I’m looking at YOU… oh, you know it, don’t you?
So remember – be a MARKETER or PUBLIC RELATIONS PROFESSIONAL first. Be prepared to constantly learn from others, tweak the way you plan and execute, and refine your abilities.
The fact that you are working on video games should not be the end goal, it should be the supportive inspiration that helps to drive you to become the best PR or Marketing person you can be.
If anyone has any thoughts or stories of applicants, share ’em here. I know there are funny ones out there.