If you’re looking for a so-called “Victory Royale” with your public relations work, or counsel to clients, you might want to set your crosshairs on how Epic Games handles public relations and marketing around its popular game Fortnite.
In case you’ve been off the grid or stuck under a rock for the last two years, Fornite is the most popular video game available right now. It is easy to think of video games as strictly for kids and teens, but Fortnite has attracted individuals of all ages, demographics, geographic locations and cultures, with more than 125 million players worldwide. Additionally, CNBC recently reported recently that the game brought in more than $1 billion in revenue during its first year, shattering records like a Smashup pickaxe.
I’ll explain more about the game below, but for now, let’s check the map, grab our glider, and head down to the floating Fortnite island for a better perspective on what PR pros can learn from Epic Games. As we land and open our first golden chest, four tactics are shown to contribute to the company’s success and include:
- Generational Marketing
- Customer Service
- Influencer Marketing
Let’s break down each of these in more detail to see how we can align them with our everyday practice.
Cathy Hackl, APR, a global virtual reality and augmented reality speaker and an industry analyst – wrote in the September 2018 issue of PRSA’s Strategies & Tactics that PR professionals should care and pay attention to Fortnite for many reasons. Hackl made specific note of how brands are utilizing the game to influence targeted generations, citing Marvel as one example.
“Fortnite’s explosive popularity is opening the door for brands to find new ways to reach the coveted Generation Z market. For instance, Marvel recently partnered with Fortnite to give some users the opportunity to play as “Avengers: Infinity War” villain, Thanos.”
The NFL has also leveraged a similar arrangement by offering “skins” – or the outfits for characters used in the game – of their favorite football team. Available for purchase, the tactic appealed to football fans, Fortnite fans and contributed to additional revenue for Epic Games. PR practitioners should always be looking for unique and creative ways to influence audiences from specific generations.
In terms of a PR discipline, customer service is one that ranks high and can often be overlooked. Senior leaders in the PR industry know that good public relations starts with the ability to appeal to, respond to, persuade or change the behavior of your target audiences. If you are not talking to your audience frequently and consistently, you’re failing. If you’re not listening to your audience and acknowledging that you hear them and will act, you’re really failing. Public relations is not a one-way street where we constantly send out messages to influence. It’s a two-way conversation through many different mediums.
In my opinion, the creators of Fortnite listen to their customers. When they create something that people don’t like and receive complaints via social media – such as the removal of Team Rumble – they make a change. When fraud with in-game purchases happen and people ask for help or complain, they create a loading screen that warns gamers that they can only purchase V-bucks from within the app or game.
Customer service is a key factor that all PR practitioners should be considering and providing counsel. Is your company or are your clients listening and reacting in a way that provides good customer service? In the age of social media, there is no reason why customer service shouldn’t be a top priority.
What’s driving the purchases that generate so much money for Epic Games? In a lot of cases, it’s influencer marketing. Over the Christmas break, the Harlem Globetrotters came to the Richmond Coliseum and my family went to the show. During the introduction of the players, at least four of the 12 executed a flawless Fortnite dance, which left kids screaming with excitement and parents saying, “I know that dance, my kid does that at least once every hour.” While they weren’t paid to do it, influencers were contributing to the success of the game.
Additionally, Fortnite has resulted in influencers leveraging the game for their own popularity and video views via YouTube. Flip the concept and it’s easy to see how Epic Games has benefited from Fortnite influencers promoting the game. According to the publication Tubular Insights, which offers insights on video marketing, the game resulted in 49 billion views on YouTube between July 2017 and September 2018. When influencers make Fortnite videos, the end result is more people playing the game and Epic Games’ revenue goes up.
Who are the local or national influencers that you or your company can work with that generate awareness of your brand?
While PR practitioners aren’t creating worlds where battles take place, we understand the importance of visuals and creating materials that are eye-catching, unique and fun. Visuals draw us in and keep us there, and the creativeness of Fortnite’s team is unmatched.
Many PR practitioners should consider how the strategic use of “creative” can enhance their work. From images that accompany press releases, to photos or graphics that enhance social media posts, newsletter articles or blogs, creative works can enhance content among many different mediums.
Well, the circle is shrinking and the Fortnite storm is closing in. If you need help with any of these public relations or marketing items listed above, give me a call. You can also throw a boogie bomb, or just run from the storm and get into the circle and we’ll be there waiting for you.
Fortnite is a multiplayer online phenomenon that allows players to battle it out in a shooter-survival video game. I should clarify that I have always stood firmly against first-person shooter videogames rated “M” for mature audiences. Fortnite is rated “T” for teen audiences. The game does not show any blood or gore. When a person is eliminated, they are vaporized into thin air and in some versions of the game respawn so the player can keep playing until the end.
Brian Chandler is president of Commonwealth Public Relations and the PR Consultants Group Virginia and West Virginia affiliate. For more information about his firm, visit: www.commonwealth-pr.com.