MEDIA SPECIAL: PR vs journalists

Some would have you believe journalists and publishers are constantly at war. MCV gives PRs a chance to have their say on working with the media

Dominic Carey
UK Xbox PR, Microsoft
I personally feel like the relationship between journalists and PRs is in a good place. In my experience, honesty counts for a lot; being upfront about your deadlines and limitations means you can agree on a joint approach which works for both parties. It can be a very reactive industry so good communication is the ultimate asset – which is essentially what we’re all paid to do.

The real change over the past few years is in our own personal relationships and how we cultivate them. It pays to get to know the people you work with regularly, and to understand where their interests lie.

What amazed me when I started in games PR was just how sociable everyone is, and what better way to network? Celebrating each other’s work is also key – so events like the MCV Awards, GMA Awards and Golden Joysticks are fantastic opportunities to get together, give each other a pat on the back and have aJagerbomb or two.

Stefan McGarry
Senior International PR Manager, Sega
PRs want to show their product off in the best possible light and gain maximum exposure for them. Journalists want to give fair appraisals of upcoming releases while keeping an eye on sustaining or increasing readership.

These are two very different agendas, but ultimately, we’ve all got jobs to do. The only way to move forward is to forge decent relationships with each other based on efficiency, transparency and mutual respect. Get that right and everything else will follow.

Simon Byron
Director of Games, Premier PR
The relationship is pretty healthy at the moment – not too close, not too hostile. It’s certainly much more professional.

Thankfully, the days when dubious PRs could attempt to buy influence are long gone – the relationship seems much more transparent now. You no longer hear whispers of a marketing manager signing off a large screen TV in exchange for coverage, or of an editor and his partner being sent on holiday by a publisher in return for a nine out of ten.

The advent of social media means it’s impossible for publishers to pull tricks like they used to. The industry has grown up, so to speak. Those who rely on old-school tactics won’t last long. That said, I’d like to see everyone stop bickering over Twitter.

David Wilson
Head of PR, SCE UK
I would say we have a good relationship with the press, with realistic expectations of what we can achieve together, what they can expect from us, what is a reasonable request and so on.

We’ve had friction in the past when new players come into our sector with a different way of working and a lack of familiarity of how the industry works. Over time these kinks get ironed out and with some mutual education, expectations from both sides are met.

Historically we’vealways had to set priorities because with the best will in the world we cannot service every single media outlet – from broadcast, newspapers, international websites to small fansites and blogs – so frequently choices have to be made. Fortunately, this rarely causes us too many problems now.

Stefano Petrullo
Senior PR Manager, Ubisoft
I think the industry itself has found its own balance from an amateur-style” way of work back in the 90’s and before to a more structured and professional relationship nowadays. When I was a journalist back in the 90’s, no internet existed, we were the absolute only way to get coverage and have people talk about your game. The internet arrived and website appeared changing the balance… and I believe we are already in a new era where Public Relations and Journalist are evolving their way of work.

Within the journalist universe, you can now easily see how the online way of talk about games is different from the print one, and this is absolutely a good sign.Social media and blogs changed the internet landscape few years ago and more changes are happening now.

In the past, PR meetings were held at the pub. PRs were gamers, journalists were gamers and they were just part of a niche industry driven by passion and aspiration of become bigger. The big skill then was knowing games. Now it’s a combination of game knowledge, communication skills and on top of that knowing what media wants/needs are.

I really admire journalists today. Reviewing a triple-A game today is far more difficult than few years ago due to the complexity of those games. Budgets are higher and the experience game delivers are deeper. PR professionals are becoming more and more communication experts and less game geek like the one I was when I start in this industry and also journalist are becoming more creative in the way they writing. The game medium has and will continuing evolving and so the professionals in the industry.

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