In the late '90s and '00s, Geraint Evans worked at Future on brands such as GamesMaster. Now he is head of marketing of publisher PQube. Here he shares how he made the transition from journalism to PR and marketing
I started working in the game industry in 1999 at Future Publishing and was a journalist for 10 years before moving into PR and marketing. I am currently head of marketing at PQube.
It's a well worn path, the move from journalist to PR. If you write about games, you're going to be exposed to the other side of the fence on a daily basis, so you learn to know what kind of press releases engage you and which don't. What's an effective way to get noticed, what makes a good announcement, what kinds of game features you're interested in, or how not to do a press event.
The UK games writing scene is also fairly incestuous in that everyone knows everyone else, so any time spent as a journalist means a pretty solid contact book way before you've made the move to PR. Being a writer also means you (hopefully) have exceptional communication skills. Writing interesting, witty and informative copy quickly and efficiently is very useful and extremely important for PR and marketing material – it's also a skill that more commercially-minded staff might not necessarily have.
This is even more important now that community management has become so vital to the publishing process – having someone that can provide quality, engaging content for customers is a really important part of building and maintaining a brand and is absolutely crucial to every game that we work on. Community management positions are also a great stepping stone from journalism to publishing in much the same way PR positions were ten years ago.
As for advice to making the shift? If you're already writing about games, leverage the contacts you already have. Working in the games press give you more opportunity than any other role to meet practically anyone and everyone in the industry – from small developers looking for PR and marketing help, companies after passionate community staff or established publishers with an opening for marketing execs.
Flexibility is also crucial. PR and marketing teams have to generate so much in the way of content and assets now. Video, blog pieces, live streams, ads and promo material. Everyone in that kind of creative environment needs to know their way around Photoshop and Premiere, and then have the social media smarts to go alongside them. If you can demonstrate your ability to present a game, do an engaging live stream or podcast, create the assets needed to go alongside them and have a solid plan to get your content noticed, then that's a great start.
Lastly, don't let the passion die! Sometimes it's really easy to let cynicism creep in and it's not a good look. All the best PR and community guys have an unwavering, infectious passion for what they do. Whether it's fighting games, racers or strategy games - if your love for games is real, it will always shine through.