Public relations professionals are often seen as annoying but necessary to a game's success. However, they shouldn't be overlooked -- their task, delivering the developer's message to the public, is a crucial one.
In a new Gamasutra feature
, Gala Networks Europe's Julian Wera aims to explain PR's place in the game industry and suggest ways to improve the way it interfaces with other departments within a developer or publisher.
Wera explains four key components in PR's role: The idea, the message, the channel and the delivery. After outlining how the evolution of media has impacted public relations, he examines how new options and opportunities complicate marketing decisions:
"The truth is that the choice of media for your communication should mainly depend on your business and audience. If you are selling an online game for a niche market, you should definitely communicate mainly online with very targeted websites. Not only will this strategy create visibility with a well-targeted audience, but having more and more features on various websites will help your site climb up the ladder on search engines, thus driving more and more traffic to your website, and pushing your sales.
On the contrary, if you're selling a broad-public Wii family game, don't expect too much feedback from gaming websites -- aim at TV shows, radios, general papers, etc. All types of media have an important value in their market share, and the evaluation of this value is the key to a successful communication."
The games market is now wholly global, too, which brings in a variety of new and additional considerations. Communication standards can vary, often subtly, from one region to the next -- it doesn't work the same way in France and Germany, and is further more different in South Korea or Japan, so approaches must be tailored.
Wera offers some advice on how to do so:
"Translation isn't localization. Getting something really localized requires changes to more than just text. As an example, the MMORPG Rappelz has recently been the first ever MMORPG launched in a fully localised Arabic version, which required changes in the text of course -- but also in the clothing of the characters, in some areas of the game, etc.
Images can shock people more than text, and to achieve a real localization, all the elements of a game and its communication have to be studied in the light of each culture.
Get local talent. Whether your choose to hire people with perfect understanding of different territories, or just outsource to local agencies, you can't really reach various local markets without dedicated people to handle your communication."
You can now read the full feature
on the subtleties and specifics of public relations in today's video game industry at Gamasutra (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).