PR’s value is in the audience, not the coverage

Paul Moore – Account Executive at Spreckley

Earlier this week, a column in The Guardian by Naomi Alderman criticised the mainstream media for not taking developments in video games seriously enough. Alderman was frustrated at the lack of coverage in national newspapers, TV and radio, noting that any gaming segments in cultural programmes are insufficient in explaining the significance that video games have on modern society.

While it’s easy to agree with her, it wouldn’t be right to say that national media outlets are wilfully ignoring the video games industry. It seems much more likely that games publishers and developers aren’t targeting the mainstream media with their news and communications.

It’s nothing to do with cultural significance; it all comes down to how PR solves problems for businesses. For the video games industry, the solution comes down to driving sales and boosting profiles within an interested audience. Industry websites, new media sources and social media influences have long been an effective way for developers to reach their target market, with video game players respecting these sources more than the mainstream media for gaming information and advice.

This strategy is familiar with our own work with B2B technology clients. Again, our clients are looking to grow their businesses through sales, partnerships and new talent, with their target market being other businesses looking for enterprise-grade products or services. It therefore makes much more sense for us to target outlets like Computer Weekly, CRN and CIO than it is The Daily Mail or The Sun. These industry titles are much more valuable for effectively communicating our clients’ news since they directly reach and resonate with our target audience. After all, an IT department looking for a strong network provider is less likely to look to the BBC or The Times for potential vendors than the IT industry press.

Alderman’s Guardian article was certainly thought provoking, but I would argue that her frustration with the mainstream media’s lack of video games coverage was misplaced. The issue is not that newspapers and culture shows are blind to video games developers, but that the PR teams behind such companies are not communicating their news to them. It’s a much more valuable use of their time to send news to industry magazines or similar, who have much more of an influence over their core customer base.

As ever, the value in great PR is not found in individual pieces of coverage, but through how such pieces engage and influence a businesses target market. This is true in B2B technology, healthcare, consumer products and, yes, video games.