A PR Firm Turns a Gaming Event into a Worldwide Sensation

Widely referred to as the "Woodstock of gaming," QuakeCon is the largest local-area-network video game fan appreciation event in North America. Working with PR firm Rogers & Cowan, QuakeCon wanted to take the event global in 2007 in terms of awareness and impact, and to increase the event attendance by 10% from 2006.

A Seismic Opportunity
With QuakeCon 2007 scheduled for Dallas and sponsored by the locally based id Software, the team employed the following strategies to meet their goals:
•    Position QuakeCon 2007 as a global phenomenon by publicizing the fact that gamers represent 51 countries in attendance;
•    Leverage id Software's brand equity; and,
•    Adopt a less-is-more approach to generate chat and pique curiosity.

To determine the messaging and positioning that would set QuakeCon apart from similar events, Rogers & Cowan examined press coverage at the rival events to determine effective media hooks and uncover any new or untapped editors. The firm also reviewed previous-year media attendee lists to determine additional targets. These practices enabled the firm to capitalize on their media pitches by identifying the most effective stories for this kind of event. Past events proved that the key to an effective gamer story is emphasizing the human element. Whether it’s profiling a specific gamer or incorporating the press in an activity like game-play boot camp, the technology itself can’t be the sole focus.

A Considerable Feat
Achieving their goals was no walk in the park for Rogers & Cowan; there were a number of obstacles that needed to be overcome. For starters, Dallas can prove a tricky locale to convince the media to visit. The weather in Dallas can get very dry and very hot very quickly, especially in the end of July and beginning of August; meaning the media would have to put up with 100 degree-plus temperatures throughout the course of the event.

In addition to the trying climate, QuakeCon 2007 had to contend with nearby competition. A similar LAN event took place in Dallas within 30 days of QuakeCon, meaning that many media outlets would be hesitant to cover two gaming events in such close physical and temporal proximity. There was also the matter of internal competition; QuakeCon is an annual event after all. Rogers & Cowan had to tackle the issue of differentiating the 2007 event from prior years.

Turning Virtual Into Real
As the target audience for QuakeCon is inherently technologically savvy, Rogers & Cowan knew it would have to look well beyond traditional media. While it was essential to secure newspaper and television coverage to maintain respectability in the public eye, it was evident early on that the campaign would require a very strong focus on the Internet.

To leverage identified press, Rogers & Cowan sent out a verbal tease prior to the event. The account team let it "slip" that id Software planned on making several important announcements at the event, without divulging anything further. Naturally, this sparked excitement and discussion among editors. Also, id Software evangelists were fed a regular dose of QuakeCon news through chat rooms and message boards.

The message board turned out to be a vital component of the campaign. The site was used as a breeding ground for breaking news about QuakeCon and id Software; both entities bestowed users with exclusive content by releasing news directly to the online community instead of first issuing it to traditional media. Rogers & Cowan touted quakecon.org as the most up-to-date hub for all matters QuakeCon and, as a result, the boards experienced a flurry of activity leading up to the event. Gamers from across the world logged on to debate scheduled content, plan tournaments, and speculate on the id Software announcement.

Mobilizing the Media, Mastering the Game
The firm managed all media activity at the event itself, targeting more than 45 press contacts and developing a variety of pitches highlighting the 96 hour, round-the-clock event schedule. Also, to generate additional broadcast coverage, the agency hired a local TV crew to produce a B-roll package.
Thanks to the combined efforts, QuakeCon 2007 attracted 130 press contacts from more than 60 different outlets, which include USA Today, Reuters and Dallas Morning News. And the best news? Event attendance grew by more than 10% from 5,400 in 2006 to 6,000 in 2007.
This is excerpted from PR News Top 100 Case Studies in PR, Volume 3. To order this guidebook or find out more information about it, go to www.prnewsonline.com/store.