Public relations in the gaming industry

Sega producer Ethan Einhorn showing the platform of some of his most recent work, the iPhone. Conway photo

How do gaming related magazines and websites gain access to exclusive information and access to the hottest titles? It’s all a matter of PR.

Ethan Einhorn is a producer of Digital Media for Sega of America, but before that he was a member of the company’s PR team.

Few people can discuss the relationship between the gaming press and game publishers within the industry as well as Einhorn, as he has worked on both sides of the spectrum. Prior to his work at Sega, he was a freelance editor for Electronic Gaming Monthly and an associate editor for GameNow.

It was a comfortable transition shifting to PR after being an editor, said Einhorn.

“When it comes to getting the review copies of games, the exclusive interviews, the cheats, etc, it was matter of dealing with the publisher’s PR teams.”

The managing editor of Gampro magazine, Mike Weigand, has also had his fair share of dealing with public relations.

The use of information provided by the PR teams of different publishers are used in a variety of ways, he said.

“For product descriptions on and for background on any articles or features that we may be doing on a game we primarily obtain press releases from the companies, be it via a press email blast or the company’s press or FTP site.”

Einhorn says he enjoys promoting a company that has brands loved by people all over the world.

“We have a company heritage that people have always responded very well to, so that is definitely helpful to make sure that your getting press for the titles you are working on.”

The first game he worked on as a member of the PR team was the company’s first Sonic game released for a non-Sega console, Sonic Heroes.

“It’s a different level of work that you do when you’re working on a game from a marketing standpoint. It’s generally pre-release/post-release support and not actually working on the game itself.”

His regular duties were tied to managing the visibility of Sega’s Japanese games.

“Anything coming from Sega of Japan, I was deeply involved in promoting. That included working with enthusiast magazines and websites like EGM and IGN. Getting them assets for the game and giving them press releases .

“Securing exclusive interviews, exclusive hands-on experiences and just trying to think outside of the box of how to approach and engage consumers.”

To give an example of how PR is used in the gaming industry, Einhorn recalled the promotion behind the game, Shining Force Neo.

“Enthusiast magazines like Playstation Magazine for example, were given an exclusive prequel comic to the game written by comic book authour Paul Chadwick. Things like that add value to the consumer and get them excited about the game.”

Has the time spent in public relations influenced his current position on the production staff?

“It gives one a much better understanding of the importance of marketing and helps me to work closely with the marketing team.”

It helps especially when it comes to working on a title for a system like the iPhone, he said.

“Understanding how to make games as visible in iPhone space as possible, when there is a lot of clutter is crucial. Up to 30 games a day get released on the iPhone, so it is really helpful to have a producer who is paying careful attention to how other games are marketed. I can make sure that my games are marketed well.”

Related post:

Sega producer teaches students the ins and outs of the industry

Gaming journalists explain the process of reporting on their favorite past time

The Challenges of creating a quality title: Sega’s Ethan Einhorn discusses his movement from PR to the production team


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