PR, Whatever That Means

My Twitter bio reads, “I’m a PR guy, whatever that means.”

It might sound cynical at first (and it probably is, a bit), but I like to think it has another meaning – it’s simply a statement of fact. PR is, has always been, and always will be an evolving practice.

The changing landscape of journalism, the uptake of social media, and the worst aspects of capitalism coming to a head at the same time are all factors that affect the way we communicate about products and brands.

For TriplePoint, there’s another layer of complexity: we live in the games industry, a sector that’s defined by constant change. And the latest upheaval has been a fierce one.

In part due to the factors I mentioned above, and in part due to a number of new technologies, the barriers to entry for new gaming products have been smashed to the ground.

As EA’s Paul Barnett (who once bragged to a journalist during an interview about his uncanny ability to keep PR handlers on their toes – truthfully, might I add) says, we’ve entered a new golden age of gaming – one where two folks in a garage can come up with something brilliant, and make a boatload of dollars doing it.

That’s a glorious thing. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

See, the problem is this: there are a million people, with a million great ideas, in a million garages.

While the risks might be lower for these microscopic teams, the competition is brutal. And they’re all on Twitter. You still need to build a brand.

For brands in their infancy, communications decisions go far deeper than timing and rhetoric. We’re talking about product pricing. Features. Funding. Web development. Community building. Advertising. And yeah, all that social media stuff.

Larger organizations wouldn’t even hint at core strategic decisions to a third party, but small teams are flexible. They’re often more comfortable accepting the advice of an agency on the big choices.

But only if we know what we’re talking about.

As PR folks, it’s more important than ever to break free from the stereotype of ‘smile & dial media list generators.’ In short, we can’t just be PR people anymore. We have to do more. For an organization like TriplePoint, that’s easy – because we already have a keen understanding of every aspect of the games industry. The big agencies, though, are bound to be spread too thin, without that laser-sharp understanding of a specific market.

I’m not just a PR guy, whatever that means.