Op-Ed: So You Want to be a Gaming Journalist Part 2

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Written by Dustin Murphy

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A few weeks ago I began by introducing the first part of three about how to become a gaming journalist, but perhaps a journalist or even a writer in general. Doing this required a few steps to simply get you started. A few of these steps were able to be found in my guide that was initially released on April 22nd, 2015. In the first few steps I introduced you to a breakdown of “How To Get Started”, “Finding Your Target Audience”, “How to Format an Editorial”, and “How to Format a Review”. In those four sections I felt that they in a way were a bit easier to break down, but at the same time gave a core idea of how to get started even more-so as many things will come a bit more natural with practice. Today in Part 2 I have decided to take it a step further, which will be breaking down a few more sections such as “Formatting an Email to PR Teams”, “Getting in Touch with PR Teams”, “Going to Press Events”, and my closing statement. So what does this mean? Exactly what it sounds like except that Part 3 no longer exists. Why? In a way, Part 3 can be looked at as a part that was going to be confusing, out of place, and even a bit of a runoff compared to what it would be easier done in a two part series versus a three part. So what now? Lets get started.


 /-/ Getting in Touch with PR Teams and Formatting Emails /-/


When becoming a journalist, it’s important to remember that Public Relations Teams are a very important part of becoming a writer. They are your access to countless bits of information, but also a point of contact that will help you confirm information by providing it, but also providing details as they are made available. So why are these ladies and gentlemen so important? When getting in touch with them, it’s important for you to remember that they are also people, they do this as a job, but also because they are extremely passionate about the industry they are apart of just as you are. When getting in touch with them there are a few things to remember; know your products you are wanting to cover, be professional, be courteous, and most importantly, be direct about your intentions without writing a novel. So what does this mean? Let me provide you with an example email that the team here at Blast Away the Game Review uses in general so that we keep our emails short, simple, and straight to the point, but also not feeling demanding or rude in the process.

“Hello,

In light of your recent announcements, we have obtained the most recent press kit for your upcoming title, “The Most Amazing Game Ever”. With the press kit that was mailed out we noticed a few key pieces of information may have been left out or this bit of information hasn’t been announced as of yet. We are wanting to find out a bit of information regarding release dates, where readers can obtain “The Most Amazing Game Ever,” but also what possible editions will be made available if this information has been decided upon at this time. If there is any information that can be shared it would be essential in order to assure our readers we have the most up to date information regarding this. We look forward to hearing back from you in response to our inquiry.

Best,

John Doe
Junior Editor for This News Company
website: http://www.ThisNewsCompany.com (please note this website is an example URL)
Twitter: @JohnDoe | Phone: 000-000-0000 | Fax: 000-000-0000”

Note, that in this email that I was direct, courteous, but also stating exactly what key pieces of information I would be seeking were I “John Doe” who sent out this email. With this, the PR teams also can simply look through for keywords when scanning the email, which gives them valid time to make a response, contact you, and inform you as well as your teams what information is available. Due note that some PR teams actually use messenger programs and or apps such as AIM in order to make contact easier, more direct, and even more efficient. Do note, that contacting them without a heads up regarding aim can throw the person you are reaching out to in for a bit of a loop.

When reaching out to a game company the first time, it’s a bit confusing on how you should go about this and in truth – it can be hard. This is where we’ve decided to sit down and give an example of how we would go about this, but please note, we won’t be providing contact information to any of the teams we work with or names, but instead a format of an email. To obtain press contact with the respected companies, we do advise visiting their websites and going through their “Contact Us” information.

“Hello,

My name is John Doe, I have sent you this email on the behalf of “This News Company” in order to obtain a press release listing contact. Our team consists of ‘x’ amount of writers whom seek to cover your products. Doing this we hope to bring a broader range of consumersfor you, but also a larger range of people who will possibly ask about your product, and those whom have used it the capability of discussing it among a community through our social media outlets, but also our website. Currently we are a team based out of Middle of Nowhere, Such a State, and we seek to obtain information for our current region. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact myself here, or are team at the following email: gaming@thisnewscompany.com. We can also be contacted at the information below.

Best,

John Doe
Junior Editor for This News Company
website: http://www.ThisNewsCompany.com (please note this website is an example URL)
Twitter: @JohnDoe | Phone: 000-000-0000 | Fax: 000-000-0000”

By allowing a brief summary of what you do, but also your goals, companies are able to see that you can be on point, provide key information, and willing to provide as much information as possible in a direct manner without taking up a lot of their time. Why is this important? Compared to what it may seem, when working with PR teams in any industry, they are extremely busy. With as many companies as they work with, PR teams are constantly on the go and sending out hundreds, if not thousands of emails a day to provide as much information as possible. So the shorter and sweeter the email, the better for both parties, which can almost guarantee that you will be hearing from them in return. Just note that responses can take a few days or more depending on how busy they are.


/-/ Going to Press Events /-/


Once you get where it’s possible to afford the trips, the fees that come around (food, hotel, etc), Press Events such as PAX, E3, QuakeCon, GamesCom, Tokyo Game Show, and more become viable options. Even some of the smaller expo’s such as Super! Bitcon, Retropalooza, Izumicon, and more, become available for you to go. So what should you do to prepare for such events? When the invites go out, it’s hard not to get excited, which is something that will happen the first few times. Thanks to the gaming enthusiast in all of us who want to write about games, it’s hard not to boil over in enthusiasm, and begin responding to the emails right away, but don’t do just that. Take your time to get the excitement out of your system, look at the average cost of a hotel room, gas and or plane tickets, but also how much you’ll want to budget out for food. Why is this important? It gets expensive and quick. It’s always easier to plan around the availability of these conventions, but also your options for making it the most beneficial to yourself. Have friends or family in the area? It’s never a bad time to hit them up and see what’s going on with them. Why? Perhaps they’d like to catch up when you aren’t busy walking expo floors and working on editing articles. A good thing to make sure you have plenty of? Business cards. These are extremely important when it comes to events.

Once you’ve figured out your expenses, built an itinerary, contacted the teams the developers that are there, set up interviews, it’s time to find a few things to remember:

-Get your questions typed up or written out
-Use a digital recorder to be able to go back with
-Write down answers or type them up if possible
-Make sure to have studied the title you are going to be interviewing about
-Provide adequate time for your interviewed person to respond as
-Remember when editing interviews to ensure that the basic premise stays in place

When not working on interviews it is still a good idea to walk around, discuss products, make contacts, and even get to talking with those companies whom are there. Even interviewing attendee’s is always a good thing, it gives insights as to why others should attend the event, but also just a general impression to the companies so that they know what fans want more of or perhaps what fans do want to see there. This will help build a solid bit of information for your first visit, but also give you ideas of what to expand on, what to add in regarding future write ups of the event, but also to help you get an overall experience at such an event. Just remember to take time with it, have fun, and just be yourself when chatting with others. Sometimes it helps to feel a bit more homely than ever.


/-/ Closing Statement /-/


When it comes down to working on becoming a journalist, practice is what ultimately makes perfect, but as does building yourself relationships with those you work with and those you are working to bring in (the readers). As you get a solid foundation regarding these practices, it will become easier, a bit more natural, and will allow for you to build your own portfolio incase you seek to write for companies such as Kotaku, Polygon, Game Informer, GiantBomb, Venturebeat, or even ourselves here at Blast Away the Game Review.


About the Writer:

DustinBATGRPhoto1Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, MMO’s, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable and can’t be softened by even the biggest names in the gaming industry. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. To follow him up go on Twitter over at @GamingAnomaly, find him on his Google+. Wanna game with him? You can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.

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