Influencer Marketing and Getting News Coverage in VentureBeat with GamesBeat’s Dean Takahashi
Dean Takahashi, lead writer for GamesBeat at VentureBeat, covers games, hardware, R&D, and other tech. I’ve known him for over a decade, have represented PR clients that he’s written about, and have contributed guest posts under my byline over the years, although that had nothing to do with him.
Dean came to Silicon Valley in 1994, the year that Netscape went public. He says two of the most exciting game tech developments he’s seen over his career were the birth of modern 3D graphics, with titles such as Tomb Raider, and the rise of graphics cards from Nvidia, which Dean remembers being announced as a “Windows accelerator” and now they have more than 10,000 employees.
Influencers and Editorial Decision Making
On the journalism side, of the things that have changed from when Dean was a reporter filing stories at the San Jose Mercury News is headcount. He was part of a 300+ person journalism team at the SJ Merc. He still remembers when editor Jerry Ceppos asked everyone to stop chasing every little story and focus more on context and perspective.
“If you’re covering sales of paint during the middle of the Italian Renaissance, you’re missing the cultural change and you miss the big picture,” says Dean, inspired by Jerry’s new mandate. The SJ Merc was located at the eye of the tech storm and this new focus lifted the caliber of the newspaper’s editortial coverage. They soon became one of the top daily technology business and financial news media outlets.
I met Dean working on a tech news embargo story for a client where he was among a handful of trustworthy, authoritative sources, such as John Markoff at the New York Times and Nick Wingfield at the Wall Street Journal (now an editor at The Information), to give you a sense of the level of authority the Dean had at the SJ Merc.
Of course, the Internet has dramatically changed the journalism landscape. There are fewer reporters to pitch, but tons of influencers are out there with their own sites. They play to be a different set of rules, but they command significant audiences.
Influencer Marketing for Video Games
Nowadays, everybody is your competition. “It’s hard to get out of that daily news cycle, and say ‘Hey, what am I doing different, what’s my unique content?” says Dean. But at VentureBeat, that’s what they strive to do, with an acute focus on AI and gaming industry stories.
“I like to get a little deeper into it than general interest reporters,” which he does through a mix product demos, playing the games and talking to their creators. “You get to know not only the product, but also the people,” says Dean who has been writing about industry leaders for decades and knows many of them quite well.
While many reporters bemoan having to compete against influencers who make their own rules with respect to editorial coverage. But Dean actually admires these online influencers who he considers part of the “leisure economy,” which he defines as being paid for playing games. “If I decide to focus my time and attention on a game, the people who made it extract some value out of that, and they should reward me,” says Dean.
Here are some excerpts from the podcast.
Influencer Marketing in Gaming Industry
“Some video influencers don’t have relationships with companies, and they go on rants about games or technologies and the companies that make them, and they don’t even ask the company to clarify anything, or ask for information. They don’t do the kind of objective information other people would have to do. And yet the companies see that they have a massive audience, so they will think about working with them. I can go to a game preview with a company like Electronic Arts, with influencers and journalists who respect embargos. But other people not in contact with EA may get leaks from them, because the company knows info eventually gets leaked anyway. So when it’s finally announced, there’s a huge audience already waiting for it,” says Dean Takahashi.
Integrating online influencers into the product release program has become standard operating procedure.
How to Get Published in VentureBeat
“It’s interesting to get a pitch when you see something in the economy through that company,” citing the case of Zappos founder Tony Hsieh, who turned Las Vegas into a startup hub. He also sees VentureBeat as an ally for underrepresented people, like a female game developer he met at a conference whose mother was also a game developer. “What are the odds of that?”, he says. “It makes you the unicorn of unicorns,” says Dean Takahashi.
Remember the old adage I learned when I worked at a public relations agency. If a dog bites a man, that’s not news. But if a man bites a dog, that’s news.
Marketing the Metaverse
“We have an event coming on January 27 that’s all about the Metaverse. You know, the notion of virtual worlds that are all interconnected. An online place where people basically live. It came from the Neal Stevenson novel from the 1990s called Snow Crash. And it was science fiction, a nerdy idea, and it was a hobby for a lot of people in Silicon Valley. And I remember a quote from Will Wright, the SimCity creator. It went like, “a copy of Snow Crash was the business plan for every startup in Silicon Valley. And a lot of that was true.
But now it’s no longer a hobby, and it’s no longer science-fiction, and it’s real. And we have enough people to speak about it at a four-day conference. Because these people have made it their day-job to make the Metaverse happen. It’s part of their business plan, their strategic plan.
They’re venture capitalists who realize they can accelerate it now because of the pandemic. And that if we can go meet people in the Metaverse, it’s better than the Zoomverse we’re living in,” says Dean, who’s booking speakers for the event so hit him up you’ve got someone good. Subscribe to The Earned Media Podcast for about the people, processes and tools used to secure media coverage, hosted by boutique public relations agency leader Eric Schwartzman.
Featured image by Andy Holmes on Unsplash