The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is the single most important annual venue to generate publicity for the interactive entertainment industry—to introduce new products, gauge public reaction and build awareness of brands and products. For the show’s owner, the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA), E3 is the place to promote the industry to key influencers—from the announcement of its annual consumer survey statistics to business growth of interactive entertainment. Following intense media scrutiny in 1999 addressing violent video games, the IDSA sought to further build consumer awareness of the show in 2000, while positively portraying the industry and the exhibitors’ products. Focusing on the theme “Beyond Imagination,” Douglas, Cohn & Wolfe (DCW) initiated an aggressive media relations campaign to increase top tier media registration for the show; generate more broad-based consumer and business coverage of new never-before-seen interactive products; and promote the importance of this burgeoning segment of the entertainment industry. The result: more than 60,000 industry professionals attended the sixth annual event, including approximately 2,500 media from around the world.
THE CHALLENGE – THE SOLUTION
To build show news, DCW developed and fielded an extensive exhibitor survey. The survey was one of the most valuable tools for generating pre-show stories, allowing the media relations team to leverage important information about the number of titles to be released at the show, their genres, breaking technology and more with top tier reporters.
To address the previous year’s perceptions about video games and violence in kids, DCW worked with the IDSA to pull relevant statistics from the association’s annual consumer survey that highlighted the typical video game consumer—adults—and the most purchased games—rated “E” for everyone.
An additional survey commissioned by the IDSA revealed that 60 percent of Americans play video/computer games. Such industry-friendly statistics were used by DCW to develop and expand press materials distributed prior and during the show.
To entice top media to attend and cover the show, DCW also researched and developed additional pitch angles for this industry. For example, we researched figures to compare interactive entertainment to other entertainment segments, drawing the attention of leading entertainment outlets.
Target Audiences: General consumer, business, entertainment and interactive entertainment media outlets; Financial and industry analysts; Show exhibitors
Budget: $215,000 (for entire show PR campaign)
- Make it easier for top tier media to attend, while making it almost impossible for unqualified individuals to sneak in
- Maintain in-depth show coverage within trade media, while increasing show awareness and coverage among both consumer and business media and the analyst community
- Position the IDSA as the primary source for industry information for journalists and analysts
- Increase PR value for exhibitors
- Develop a simplified media registration process and a VIP media registration procedure
- Build media interest in the industry with strategic announcements leading up to the show
- Leverage IDSA information and involvement as support for show story development
- Provide exhibitors with additional communications tools
DCW spearheaded an effort to bring E3 2000 media registration online for the first time in the show’s history. This automated system enabled a more streamlined and simple pre-registration process for media. As part of the registration system, DCW created a media questionnaire to determine what industry or product information was relevant to the reporters and how they wished to be contacted. This allowed exhibitors to more effectively target reporters with show/product information.
VIP Media Registration
DCW developed an instant registration process for VIP media to secure top tier consumer press registrations prior to the show. The media relations team faxed Instant Registration forms to select VIP media and aggressively pitched them to register. Registrations were followed up by distribution of pertinent show information to encourage attendance.
Media Announcements/Exhibitor Survey Release
DCW distributed pre-show media announcements to build anticipation for the show. One release was based on the exhibitor survey fielded by the media relations team. The exhibitor survey release created breaking show news that was used when booking a top tier media tour prior to the show.
DCW conducted a media tour with IDSA president Doug Lowenstein to provide reporters with a glimpse of the show and provide a first-look at the exhibitor survey information. The two-city tour targeted top business, entertainment and national media and analysts in New York and Los Angeles.
A DCW original…DCW targeted key financial and industry analysts with a special reception and preview of the show with Lowenstein. The meeting included an informal presentation on key developments in the industry as well as look into the future of interactive entertainment. Leading analysts from Ing Baring Furman Seltz, Credit Suisse First Boston, J.P. Morgan Securities and Par Capital Management attended.
Media Briefing and Breakfast
DCW worked closely with the IDSA to coordinate a Media Briefing and Breakfast to kick off the show. At the briefing, Lowenstein revealed statistics from the IDSA annual consumer survey and answered questions from the more than 300 media in attendance. In addition, DCW coordinated one-on-one interviews with top media during show hours to review the information in more detail.
First Looks 2000
To reinforce the show’s position as the venue for what’s new and what’s next in interactive entertainment, DCW developed the E3 First Looks program to highlight never-before-seen products that were being announced at the show. Exhibitors with First Looks products/technology were given special signage to designate them for media and attendees. A list of First Looks companies was given to reporters to entice them to coverage new and innovative software and products.
The online registration system allowed DCW to filter qualified media quickly enabling an unprecedented 1,800 media registrations prior to the show, an increase of more than 70 percent over 1999 levels. In the end, more than 2,500 media attended E3 2000.
The quality of media rose, posting a total of more than 400 top tier consumer/business journalists, including such outlets as USA Today, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Fortune, Washington Post, Entertainment Tonight, Maxim, Access Hollywood, The Tonight Show, Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg News.
Pre-show and on-site media bookings with Lowenstein proved very successful to garner leading consumer and business stories that positively positioned the industry.
DCW scheduled media tour appointments with CNNfn, Reuters, Bloomberg News, Wall Street Journal, Variety and others. The efforts resulted in a front-page story in the Wall Street Journal.
Pre-show pitch efforts secured coverage in major media including Los Angeles Daily News, New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and Los Angeles Times.
A meeting with an Associated Press reporter and subsequent embargo of consumer survey information resulted in three week-of-show AP articles, featuring IDSA/industry statistics that ran in hundreds of daily publications across the country. One of the articles was recently mentioned in Brill’s Content December 2000 issue: “The effect of the campaign was unmistakable. By May 2000, the press was running positive stories about the video game industry. A May 12 story by the Associated Press that reported that video games were played primarily by adults, which quoted industry statistic prominently, was picked up by hundreds of papers around the country.”
716,658,062 media impressions
167,667,085 media impressions
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