“What do you expect from media?” It’s one of the most common questions we receive. After all, there are perks to being considered media, like free games, cool swag, and skipping event lines. So, in an age where everyone can have a voice, who do we consider to be media, and what do we expect of them?
To be clear, “Media” is a loose term we use at Evolve PR to encompass a wide variety of people. Other companies might use terms such as “Press” or “Influencers” or “Mindshare Ninja Gurus” or some other terrible combination of buzzwords to describe someone who creates and/or disseminates information to an audience.
That said, just because you have a comma or two in your follower-count, or Google Analytics says you’re the new hotness, doesn’t mean that you get a free pass to the perks of media status — not with us, at least.
Not-So-Secretive Secrets Exposed
Every PR agency or publisher is a bit different in how they determine who should receive those perks. Some look purely at viewership numbers, site analytics, the amount and quality of content produced, or arcane integers divined from the tombs of sacrifice.
Numbers and dark arts aside, professionalism is the one thing that truly separates a member of the media from somebody who slapped a blog together last night. No, you don’t need to wear a suit. But, you do need to be respectful, responsible, and driven to create something of value to people at the highest level of quality you can achieve.
As a writer, this might mean properly sourcing your work and reaching out to developers for comment, instead of rushing to the keyboard to ride the popularity wave of a flimsy rumor. As a YouTuber, this could mean turning down codes that won’t fit into your schedule, instead of grabbing everything with the faint promise that perhaps maybe someday you’ll possibly try it out. It means not breaking embargoes, not skipping appointments, not selling codes, not….sorry, got on a bit of a rant there.
Obviously, professionalism can be a difficult thing to quantify in concrete terms, especially without face-to-face interaction, but it’s not all that hard to suss out. Believe it or not, but bragging about the influence of your blog (which has two typos in the first headline, by the way) and demanding special treatment in a curse-laden email does not exude professionalism. Crazy, right?
The Pact of Evil
Okay, let’s say that you are the embodiment of professionalism. You try to do right by your outlet, your audience, the games, and even the developers. Your inbox is bursting with offers for review codes and event invitations. There has to be a catch to all this, right? Well, of course there’s a catch. We’re a PR agency. We’re evil incarnate or something like that, I guess.
At its most basic, our expectation is actually rather simple; if we provide the access, you provide the coverage. Just as your duty is to inform and/or entertain your audience, our duty is to help developers get exposure for their games. As a business, we strive to be cost-effective for our clients, which means we’re more likely to spend time working with those media who uphold their end of that bargain in a responsible and professional manner.
Going a little deeper, part of this expectation is that any codes requested are for work purposes (not extras for your buddies or to resell), that you talk to us if you encounter a problem with a game, and that you know enough to provide your audience with some basic information. Seriously, no stream should ever start with the words, “I’m not sure what this game is…”
We’re reasonable people though. It’s not like we’re etching your name into some mythical list of blackness because you didn’t get around to a game or had a minor embargo slip-up. Stuff happens. But, there is a big difference between someone who treats their position and our relationship with respect and courtesy, and someone who thinks their position is a free pass to do as they please.
Turning the Tables
Of course, respect is a two-way street and there are expectations that we try to meet as well. This means communicating in an open and timely manner, aiding you when possible in your pursuit of coverage, and honoring your opinions even when we don’t agree. Just as we know you’re not perfect, please know that we make mistakes from time to time as well.
We’ve been in this business a long time. We’ve had the privilege of working with hobbyist critics turned editors at major publications, startup YouTubers turned international celebrities, and no-name developers turned industry trendsetters.
If there is one thing all these people have in common, it’s that they realize this isn’t an industry of individuals. We may have have different titles and methods, but at the end of the day, we all want the same thing; to help people play some kickass games.