Regardless of an ever-changing media landscape, PR coverage of games, developers and publishers has always been an important part of what makes the industry go round.
So, what's the secret to getting seen and heard? Is it as simple as hiring a great PR to get the job done?
I was a PR in the industry for almost 20 years so I'm a huge champion of the wealth of creative storytellers the industry has, working tirelessly to help increase sales of software and hardware through the awareness they create about their products and their respective employers.
But regardless of any PR's talent for good media relations, PR has ultimately always been driven by one thing and that's a great story. Without something interesting to talk about, no amount of spin is going to consistently fill column inches in a meaningful way that sells products or creates real sustainable interest in a company.
I've always believed that every business has a story to tell, regardless of its size or budget, but what's become increasingly apparent over the years is that many businesses struggle to identify what their stories are and how they should be told. As a result, I now help businesses to 'get PR-ready' by defining and articulating the stories behind their brands, putting them in a good position to get out there and talk confidently and convincingly.
Telling a story that turns heads has to go beyond products and that's where branding comes in. Like many games, a brand should have a strong narrative that draws your audience in and keeps them engaged with you.
Sure, promoting your products is vitally important but what happens when you've talked about all the features of your game or your technology in all the spaces you can? What do you do next? Or what happens when you're between products, but you still want to keep up your profile with players, potential partners or investors?
The most successful businesses in any industry have invested in building a brand with a story that resonates with consumers and positions them as experts or forward-thinking opinion leaders in their field. And that's what enables them to always keep talking. If you're thinking about how you can improve your company's visibility, here are five tips to help you build a brand that will make you stand out.
1. Start with your story
Building a solid brand is about more than investing in a good logo (although design does have an important role to play in your branding). All brands should start with a brand story that encompasses their mission, vision and values; their target audiences; their tone of voice and brand personality and their own unique messaging.
When you know who you are, what you're here to do and how you're going to do it, not only will your brand design be better placed to help you to deliver that story visually, you're ready to lead a conversation that's bigger than any single launch and one that never runs dry.
If you're tired of winging it and thinking about what to say to your audiences on the fly, then investing time and energy in developing your brand story means you'll never be lost for words again.
2. Know your purpose
"Being consistent in how you present your business to the world is how you create trust with your audience"
Maintaining a strong profile for your business all year round makes it easier to promote your games when they come out, as well as keeping you connected with the media, your players and any other important partners for your business.
One way to do this is by having a clear purpose, which enables you to bring your audience on a journey with you, helping them to understand what you're working towards and what differentiates you from other publishers or developers. These days we often hear about the importance of creating emotional connections with people, because in the noisy world we live in, you need to give them a reason to stop and look at what you're doing, something more compelling than just telling them what you do.
Carving out your unique proposition allows you to make those emotional connections with the people you want to reach, making it much easier for them to make the decision to work with you or buy from you.
3. Interrogate your values
If your company values are based on making great games, providing a great player experience or outstanding customer service, it might be time to go back to the drawing board.
Yes, these things are important but they're important for every publisher and developer and as a result they're kind of a given. In other words, if you're not doing these things as standard then you're going to be facing bigger issues than branding.
The most inspirational brands have developed their own unique set of values; values that relate directly to their business and are embraced by their people and embedded in their culture.
I call these the 'non negotiables' of any business. Your values should be the guiding principle for how you do what you do. They can help guide your decision making, as well as being part of a meaningful and credible story about your organisation.
4. Be authentic
When it comes to defining the brand story for your business, it's not about creating a desirable story; it's about creating a story that is true to who you are, what you do and how you do it. Stories are credible and believable when they capture everything from people's inspirations to their experiences to their future visions. These are the things that make companies unique, individual and distinct from each other.
Besides, continually keeping up a contrived image is nigh on impossible.
5. Be consistent
Last year I spoke about brand storytelling at an event. At the end of my session, someone in the audience said, "You've told us a lot about what good looks like when it comes to building a brand, but what does bad look like?"
My answer, in a word, was inconsistency.
Being consistent in how you present your business to the world is how you create trust with your audience. Consistency of communication demonstrates your knowledge and professionalism and tells people that you know what you're doing and they're right to want to engage with you.
Inconsistent tone, messaging or behaviour are sure-fire ways to turn your customers, players or partners off. With so many other companies out there doing what you do and so much other content to consume, swiping and moving on has never been easier.
Lidia Rumley is a brand consultant and the founder of The Brand Storyteller. After spending almost two decades working in PR for leading video game publishers Ubisoft, EA and Eidos she now works with creative businesses to help them define and articulate their brand stories.