What value do MMO bloggers have to your goals as a community relations specialist?
David Bass: Bloggers are individual voices in the maelstrom of the Internet. The forums are our primary forms of communication, but a lot of times the individual voices get lost in favor of the vocal minority. Blogs are a great way to hear individuals and respond to their concerns on a much more personal level. I love networking with bloggers, because it really helps foster relationships that you can't forge on game forums.
Shaun Brodie: Bloggers are an incredible value. Not only do they help to spread the word about our games, but they also let us know what the players are talking about. Forums can get really busy, information can get lost in the madness there, but a blogger has the ability to make a nice, high profile post that people will talk about not only on the blog, but also on our forums. Anything that helps us know what the community wants is awesome.
Sean Kauppinen: Bloggers are very important to Frogster America and the success of Runes of Magic. We recognize their importance as non-media entities that in many ways are ombudsmen for the community, representing their interests.
Tami Baribeau: Tons of value. MMO bloggers offer a unique perspective because they help you understand what MMO players as a whole feel about your product. If the only community a CM listens to are their own dedicated players, they get a skewed perception of how MMO players feel about their game. Reading blogs is a great way to get a macro-opinion about what the MMO community as a whole think about your product.
They also have a certain level of influence, and are a great way to connect with new potential fans. Reaching out to them and offering them advance details on upcoming features or announcements is a certain "grass roots" level of approach that can be very effective for targeting new audiences (and providing damage control). Commenting and interacting with fans on a blog post gives you the ability to have conversations with people who affect the public perception of your product.
"Blogs are a great way to hear individuals and respond to their concerns on a much more personal level."
Wonder Russell: Bloggers tend to have hubs of readers different from big news sites – it's more predicated on relationship and dedicated readers are more likely to trust word of mouth recommendations. Being mentioned in a good blog can do a lot towards generating goodwill and a personal touch – players like to know there's a human being on the other end, not just an email address, and a company's willingness to work with blogs shows that you're paying attention and care about everyone's experience.
Regina Buenaobra: Bloggers bring a more personal dimension to the game experience. They share their passion and excitement for gaming in a totally authentic, unfiltered way. It's very important for us to be able to understand this personal dimension and the different ways players experience the game. MMO game bloggers often remind us that there can be very different types of players and communities for a single game, each with different perspectives and expectations. MMO game bloggers are also able to reach a niche of players and communities that larger game sites may not be able to.
EM Stock: As Community Relations professionals, we are relationship builders. We do whatever possible to help players form relationships with each other and become invested in our games. Once they are, it's our job to support them as much as we can. Bloggers, (like fan site creators and podcasters) do what they do out of passion for the game. Their level of effort goes above and beyond that of the normal player, and they deserve to be recognized for it. Just by talking about our game on their blog, a blogger is spreading awareness of it via the Internet. If their impressions are relatively positive, it hopefully results in new subscriptions and a stronger player community.
Meghan Rodberg: Bloggers have a lot of value because they generally represent different segments of the community; their posts tend to be very focused and topical – line by line they tend to have a lot of bang for the buck. Rant-blogs often being the exception.
How would a blogger go about building a relationship with your company?
David Bass: Cryptic's got a great Marketing team that is willing to hook up any website, big or small, with an interview, some assets, anything we can give you. So getting in touch with our PR team is a great way to get your blog some extra exposure. On a more personal note, I end up noticing blogs mostly because they just start talking about us! A lot of us have things like Google Alerts set up, where we get an email any time a website talks about us, and I now follow three or four blogs regularly just from discovering them through the Alerts. I'll even post comments and stuff on their blogs (usually anonymously, though). Building a relationship's as easy as being vocal (but constructively so).
Shaun Brodie: The hands down best thing to do is to get in touch with our PR department. They'll let us know about you, and also manage any interview requests you might have. I'm more than happy to talk to the community in any medium. Also, make sure to read and post to the forums. Just like players might geek out meeting a developer, we geek out when we get to meet our players! If you're known in the community, chances are, I know you too.
Sean Kauppinen: They would send me an email at email@example.com and let me know how I can help them in their writings.
Tami Baribeau: The first thing you have to do is let the community team know they exist. Reach out via an email and introduce yourself, talk about what you would like to do with your blog, and make sure you get connected with a community manager. The best tip I have for getting great quality content out of a game company is by telling them exactly what you want. For example, email the team and tell them you're wanting to write up an article about the lore behind Rallos Zek and you're wondering if there might be an exclusive screenshot, interview or lore tidbit that the team can share with you. Instead of contacting the game company looking for ideas or topics to write about, be creative and come up with one yourself -- then contact the company to help support it with some unique content. This is a win-win situation!
Also, don't underestimate the power of social networking. Many Community Managers are on Twitter and Facebook or have blogs of their own. Don't be shy to interact with them.
Tricia Jenkins: We've had several bloggers come to us-via Twitter, Facebook, our website-seeking more game information, trial keys, interviews etc. If you're a blogger and already have your blog set up, definitely send along a link to your blog with whatever information about the game it is you are seeking-we're very responsive! We certainly can't reach every gaming blog out there, so we definitely welcome new bloggers.
"Don't underestimate the power of social networking."
Wonder Russell: First, find out the best person to contact. General emails have difficulty threading their way to the right person. Secondly, be professional. Show past examples of reviews or give us an idea of how many readers you have. It's not necessarily about a quota, it's about showing us that you take your blog seriously and care about what you do. This might be ridiculously obvious, but I appreciate a well thought-out email with good grammar and spelling. Letters like, "I have a blog and everyone tells me to play yoru game its looks fun pls send a steam key thx" just really makes me feel like I'm not worth your time.
Regina Buenaobra: The first step is to get on our radar. The internet is vast, and a huge number of blogs are created each day, so we don't always notice new blogs. We love finding out about new Guild Wars blogs, though! I'd advise bloggers to definitely send us an @ on Twitter or drop a quick email just to let us know about your blog.
EM Stock: The blogger can start by contacting us and making sure we know they exist. We will evaluate their blog, their readership and then determine the level of support we can provide. A blogger who reaches out to the Community Relations Team on a regular basis and keeps us updated on his or her activities is promoting a relationship based on communication and trust.
Meghan Rodberg: First of all, let us know about you! Community Managers are always being slammed with communications from every different direction, and it can be difficult to find the time to seek blogs out or even keep up with existing ones. Contact us, let us know about your blog. Once you've made the contact, don't just assume we'll pick up new posts via RSS – drop us a line (don't forget the link!) and let us know a new post is up.