We’ve dealt with the lovely Roxana Etemad, UK PR Manager at Square Enix Europe, quite a few times as the years have rolled by. So, as far as we’re concerned, there were no better brains to pick when we wanted to find out what the daily life of a gaming publicist was all about. Ever wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes at one of the world’s largest publishing houses? Or just want some advice on how to get into the medium yourself? Follow Roxy’s advice below, and everything will fall into place, padawan…
Those who don’t work in the industry, especially younger audiences, will never have heard of or seen the work put in by those in games PR. Could you give us an overview of your job specs, from the smallest thing to the largest task, as we can’t imagine every day being the same!
In my opinion Games PR is one of the most diverse roles within the industry! No two days are the same and you have to be really adaptable to cope with all the different things that come up. We speak to members of the press daily, talking through our release schedule and securing lots of coverage which can range from an exclusive first look at a game to interviews and reviews. Event organising also plays a major part in the role which I personally love doing!
We plan many events for our games to give press and communities the chance to experience our games in the most creative and immersive ways. We also take press abroad on tour to visit studios and attend industry shows which is a massive perk! Of course it’s not all fun and games all the time – we have the usual paperwork that comes with most jobs; updating budgets, filling in spreadsheets, creating PowerPoints, writing PR plans….
You’re UK PR Manager for Square Enix which sounds pretty hectic. It must have taken a long time to get there, though? Is PR something you always had a lifelong ambition to get into? What was the journey like to your current position?
I started by getting a lot of work experience at various media companies during my school holidays and PR was the area that interested me the most. I then went to University where I got to do a degree in Communications which covered PR, Marketing and Advertising which was a lot of fun!
After Uni I worked at a PR agency which was dealing with products that I didn’t really have a passion for so I decided to write to the games company Eidos direct to see if they had any opening as I have always loved gaming. The expression ‘right place at the right time’ fits right here! I had an interview and got the role as PR Assistant – 8 years later and here I am managing the UK PR dept for Square Enix Europe.
What’s the messiest situation you’ve come across during your time in PR, and how did you deal with it?
There haven’t been many thank goodness so I think I have gotten away with it so far!
And the most satisfying result you’ve had in your career to date?
It’s always satisfying to see your games getting the recognition they deserve and to see how excited people are when you show them a new game for the first time or when a game launches and you listen to consumer reaction! For me it’s hearing people removed from the industry discussing your game at a friends party, people who have no idea that you may have played a part in their excitement.
Not every game is going to set the world alight, and there must be times when you know a game is going to need that extra little bit of pushing to generate sales. Business is business after all, but what challenges does that pose from a PR point of view when you know a game is likely to be received poorly by critics and the public?
Everyone has individual tastes and you have to remember that what might not be your cup of tea can be someone else’s favourite game and so I feel every game needs the same amount of effort and attention in a PR’s work. End of the day, a team of developers have worked incredibly hard to deliver their vision of a game and so you need to respect that and do your best.
You must get correspondence from a huge variety of sources for review and preview code, alongside many other requests. How do you decide which ones deserve access and exclusives? Also, what’s the most bizarre request you’ve ever had?
It is always lovely to have lots of people interested in covering your games and I would like to think we give most people the chance to get their hands on exclusives and opportunities to preview and review our games. I can’t think of a bizarre request to be honest! Is that really boring of me?? I am sure there was probably something relating to one of our Lara Croft models as some point!
Are you a gamer yourself? Is a knowledge of gaming vital to working in games PR, or is it more a case of being clever enough to learn about a product and have the ability to promote it to its maximum potential?
I have always been massively into games, that’s the reason I got into the industry all those years ago because I wanted to be part of an industry which I have a passion for. One of the best perks is being able to play our games before they release – it’s very cool!