It's obvious from their very existence that publicists help shape the coverage of games in the media, but is the scope of their influence absolute? In this latest feature
, Gamasutra talks to several current and former PR reps and editors to discover how PR and the game press interact.
As noted in the following excerpt, one popular way in which PR can try to influence coverage is through offering a publication an exclusive first shot at covering a given product:
“The motivation for companies to court and shape media coverage of their games and products is obvious. “If I can get Prominent Games Magazine X to publish a six-page spread of my title for free,” says Laura Heeb Mustard, a long time game publicist who has worked with Namco, Enix, THQ, Midway, and Majesco, “why would my marketers bother tacking on an advertisement to the end of that? The message is already in there. And if it's preview material, it's all but guaranteed to be a positive one. That's just good business sense."
The difference between an ad and a published story, of course, is that a writer can say anything he or she wants about a game. But in allowing a publication access to a game and the people who created it, publishers exert a subtle influence. The greatest tool in their arsenal is the exclusive, often taking the form of a sought-after cover story for magazines.
In this age of instantaneous online news distribution, print publications rely on exclusivity deals with game publishers to give them a leg up on the electronic competition. The publisher gets choice real estate (several pages of story and an eye catching cover image peeking out from newsstands across the country), while the magazine gets a promise: Their publication will be the only place to read about that particular game, at least for the time being. No money changes hands, of course, and the publication gets to present that info (and any opinions they might have about it) in whatever way they choose.”
You can now read the complete feature
, which includes a detailed look at the role PR plays in how the video game industry is covered, including insight from many individuals on both side of the equation (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).