Communicating with PR and Requesting Game Keys

If you plan to take streaming seriously, engaging and contacting public relations representatives, community managers, and other industry professionals is an essential skill. Unfortunately, there are a lot of common mistakes streamers make when asking for game keys. We reached out to some of these industry professionals to share advice with streamers on communicating with PR in the gaming industry.

Questions

How early before a release date should content creators begin contacting you?

What are some things content creators should include in their emails when requesting keys? (Follower stats? Viewer count? What should an introduction be like?)

What do you look for when choosing which creators to work with? Is it always about numbers? Are there other factors?

What are your expectations from content creators when providing access to a game?

What are some common mistakes content creators make?

What can content creators do to make your job easier?

Any other advice or tips you want to give to content creators?

How early before a release date should content creators begin contacting you?

This depends on what you’re looking to do. For folks looking for a day 1 code, or a code to play during the embargo period, it’s good to hit them a month before launch. This assures that teams can make a request for codes based on what has been requested. Not many folks sit on a pile of codes. When you’re looking to do a deeper dive into a title is when you should consider outreach earlier. Contacting companies can be much more than just “free codes”. Interviews, Q&A, Art Assets, Theory videos, Lore videos, casual content, or even a history of the developer is all content that could be created when reaching out. I often see too many creators limit themselves to just playing the game at launch. Investing in a team goes a long way in the future. For other creators who won’t be playing games, but may want to work with a brand in another way, the earlier the better. It’s good practice to not just hit a brand up during a product launch. –Andy Lunique, Former Microsoft Content Creator Strategy

At least a couple of months out of release usually works. It gives us enough time to make sure we have the right allotment of codes, and it gives a chance to begin forming a relationship and potentially come up with other ideas on how to collaborate. If there’s a trade show earlier than that, then make sure you contact us then, too! I personally enjoy the opportunity to have face time with folks who are enthusiastic about playing our games, and there may even be a slot open at our press/new media area that you might not have been able to snag otherwise. –Elisa Melendez, Gearbox Software

I would start reaching out 2 weeks in advance. This is the time when we know what we’ve got to work with in terms of supply, and we start taking a hard look at reconciling that number with who has requested a title and who we’d like to work with on a particular launch. Yes, you can still get a code day of launch but our inboxes are usually flooded with hundreds of requests in that timeframe and can go unnoticed. –Jeff Rubenstein & Sean Morgan, Microsoft Influencer Relations

Any time they hear about the game, they shouldn’t hesitate to talk to a team. The main goal should be actual interest and support for a project that you like. If you want to be involved with that community, reach out. Most devs (ie; all) are looking for fans and people that can be vocal and promote a game. If the goal is for coverage and general interest, hit them up a few weeks prior to any alpha/beta or full launch. –Ben Strauss, Gun Media

For the most part, content creators can reach out at any time to express interest in a game and I’d encourage them to do so early if they’re genuinely interested in a game. There isn’t a “too early” per se, you never know when there could be preview opportunities to play a game in advance of launch, and if you let a PR or community person know early on that you’re interested in a game then they may come back to you with said preview opportunity.

With that said, though, asking for a launch key right away when a game has been announced for the first time is a little silly, especially since it could be years before a game launches, so there is a good chance the PR or community person who gets the inquiry won’t remember your request. For launch keys specifically, it’s probably best to just strike up a conversation a few months ahead of launch. –David Martinez, Co-founder Raw Fury

If it’s a company that has a system in place and is doing a good job of tracking interest for a game, as soon as possible. Even if it is a year out and you have to set calendar reminders to contact the company in 6 months, 3 months and then 1 month before a release, do that; the company understands and it is helpful to see that the content creator remains interested enough and professional enough to send polite reminders. The more time we have to get a list together, the more likely an influencer is going to get a key. If the influencer is asking the day before or day of, the sheer volume of messages a company gets ensures that the person asking will not hear back for quite some time–the company simply cannot respond to that volume quickly enough, though they go through many sleepless nights to try. There is also the issue of some companies being restrictive with keys. A CM or Influencer Manager only has a set number of keys and those go out via email, then the doors close on the keys. –Melissa Mok, Senior Partnerships Manager, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS

We are more relationship-driven here on the Ubisoft PR team and are more inclined to prioritize towards creators who have invested in the game or franchise versus those who just come around when the game is launched. We start receiving requests six weeks prior via our Ubisoft press site, that said. –Stone Chin, Ubisoft PR Associate Director

Hear a rumor about an upcoming title? Research it, find the contact information of the publishing company and reach out. Tell them you are interested. Send a follow-up email two-four weeks before launch reminding them you are still interested. It never hurts to engage on social media either. Your interest excites them! –Megan Hildreth, Influencer Relations Manager, Reverb Communications, Inc.

Typically, if you are interested in a game, you should begin to as soon as you hear about the given game. When reaching out or researching who to speak to about access, be sure to understand that they may not have all of their final plans for marketing solidified and will indicate if they have added you to a list or to reach out in the future to be added. –Jake Hurst, Leviathan Core

I think indicating interest in a game can happen around the time an announcement is made. The individuals involved in Influencer Relations will either indicate another time for you to reach out (weeks/months), or add you to a list for the game if it’s been created. I would always recommend proactively reaching out within two months of launch if your first contact was well before the launch date. –George Depree, Leviathan Core

What are some things content creators should include in their emails when requesting keys? (Follower stats? Viewer count? What should an introduction be like?)

Many folks have heard me chime on about using a “deck” to send to folks when requesting keys. I say this because it covers all the information needed for a person to see your value in one shot. Make a slide or a one-sheet that explains how many people you reach and why. I believe the key info is:

  1. Average viewers
  2. Content for channel (What kind of content do you put out))
  3. Streaming Schedule
  4. Links to social
  5. Links to examples and clips of your stream

The more you can set the stage for your channel, the better the odds are for you. Don’t be afraid to say where your channel lands when playing a game. Don’t be afraid to mention how much time you can put towards a title. Hundreds of companies get thousands a mails a month that say “I would love to feature your game, and showcase it for my viewers/community”. What’s going to set you apart from the rest of the folks? Also consider this question: Would you buy the game and play it on your channel even if you didn’t get a code? I believe answering this question should help you direct who you’re sending emails to. -Lunique

As part of the introduction, knowing what you could bring to the table re: that title is important. Why Gearbox Publishing? Why that title in particular? Showing you’ve done your research goes a long way. We’d like to see the usual in terms of links to your channels, follower count, platform preference, and average concurrent viewers/views, but it’s also nice to have a link to a stream or video where you’ve either played our title or something similar, so we don’t have to dig too far to see if we’d be a good fit. -Melendez

We always like hearing about what plans you’ve got for a particular title; are you planning a traditional stream/let’s play, or taking a more interesting/unique angle? No need to be overly formal with an introduction – link to your channel, be clear in the ask, take the time and write something that you would want written to you. Personally, we will always want to help out a channel who has taken the time/effort to request a code. -Rubenstein & Morgan

A content creator should be just that; a content creator. Devs are looking for people that create content and care about their channels. There’s a ton of requests (around 3,500 requests from people with YT or Twitch channels). Of them, our team looked at each request and decided based on quality. Each dev is going to be different. Some are going to spread keys as much as possible, others will only go for the channels with large numbers, regardless of content while others simply ignore. It’s a varied world out there. The biggest mistake someone new can claim is ‘I’m a content creator’ with a channel of 2 videos with simple gameplay recorded. You want a dev to give you access? Create your own content and show a track record. Invest in yourself and people will take notice. If you intend to make this a profession; you need to have a portfolio. -Strauss

The question of all questions! Follower and viewer counts are certainly welcome, that helps a ton. If you’re asking for a game from a franchise and you’ve played previous games in that franchise before, it would be a good idea to send over a VOD link. Chances are that the person taking your request will look at your channel for themselves to see if what you say and send over matches up with what’s on your channel, so keep that in mind! Other important things to have on your channel page is an email address, specifically the one you’re using to make the request! I can’t stress how important this is. Without being able to verify that your email address links to your channel, most PR and community folks will just skip over your request. -Martinez

Content creators should state who they are, what their channel links are, and provide a brief background on what their channel brand is about: if you are an indie variety streamer, then it’s a good idea to mention that in the email. Follower count, concurrent viewer count, or number of video views are helpful, even social media impressions (there are people who have impressive social media impressions, which can offset their lower viewer numbers). Companies will always check your numbers and your channel links and make sure your email matches what is in your profile. If an influencer is emailing a company out of the blue without a way for that company to verify the email address or DM the influencer, it’s very likely they won’t respond at all.  

Next, they should explain what they are doing with the key. Review of the game? Play with their communities? Set up a special stream event? It’s a good idea to show a brief action plan as well, so if the content creators would like more keys to give away, they can easily and seamlessly explain why. This is also a good time to ask if it’s possible for social media support from the company also.  Some companies will be agreeable, some will not, but the content creator cannot take it personally if they do not get approved; there are some companies that have strict social media guidelines and a shoutout or retweet goes against their guidelines. -Mok

Follower stats and view count and type of content a creator is focused on is great. Any required information is usually listed on the aforementioned Ubisoft site and, again, an ideal situation is not starting off cold with a review request. -Chin

Concise emails are key to communicating in PR. My best practice is to answer the 5 W’s. Who are you? What are you emailing about? When are you interested in covering the game? Where can we see your content? Why should we give you a key? Carry yourself with confidence and help us understand why your channel would be a wise return on investment for a game key. -Hildreth

The first thing I would include is a link to Twitter and their respective channel. If there is a manager/assistant involved, providing their information for reference and identification purposes is also timesaving. After providing the above, a summary of the genres played, and when possible, a link to example content. This helps determine where you fit best into the overall campaign plan, and if additional opportunities could work with your current routine.
Finally, a snapshot of the following data: Follower(Twitch)/subscriber (YT) count, average viewership, stream schedule, and primary language. -DePree & Hurst

What do you look for when choosing which creators to work with? Is it always about numbers? Are there other factors?

Every lead like myself has different eyes for different campaigns. The very first thing we’re looking for is content relevance. We won’t send an FPS to a MOBA streamer. We won’t invite a sketch comedy creator to a press preview event. That kind of outreach is lazy and disrespectful. After a broad identification, average viewers, social presence all play into it. When it comes to persona, that all depends on the team. There’s an ask at play and agencies are asked to curate a list that brings great ROI. If your channel isn’t suitable for kids, you may not be chosen for the next child-friendly game. On the flip side, maintaining a community that doesn’t thrive on hateful content is a good way to keep yourself in the running for contact. -Lunique

Numbers may be part of the story, but they’re not the whole story. We also look at general attitude as well as if our game fits with what the streamer’s strengths are. I’m conscious that audiences might expect a certain genre, style, and cadence from a content creator, so I don’t seek to fit a square peg into a round hole by providing a game that might not work with a creator’s established brand. I want to make sure your audience has a good experience, too! -Melendez

Character is everything – we like good people! For someone we don’t know as well, we’ll not just be looking up numbers, but spending time watching their content to make sure it aligns with our brand values. Do your videos revolve around trolling/griefing other players? We’ll probably take a pass. On-camera drug use, harassment, racism, and other abhorrent behavior are going to be a red flag for us, no matter how many subs you have. Numbers are a thing but do not dictate who we work with. Microsoft’s program is relatively small and in most cases, the people we work with are creators who make us laugh or create really solid content. -Rubenstein & Morgan

Our team specifically looked at each pitch for genuine enthusiasm, quality of content and past content creation. We denied plenty of channels with 100K+ subs, as well as others with 1M+ subs. Why? Because they were focused on one game with no past indication of coverage of other titles. We get that people might be a fan of our game, but no one is in the business of giving free games just because someone is popular. Enthusiasm, quality, and a record are the biggest strengths a channel can have.

Protip; friends in the Twitch/YT/Beam community can help; it’s impossible to track every channel for a dev and a vouch from others in the community can help. -Strauss

For me personally, it’s definitely not just about numbers. In fact, if we have plenty of keys (usually with Steam releases this is the case), I’ll hand out keys to anyone regardless of channel size so long as they’re consistently creating content. If someone reaches out and only has a few viewers per broadcast but I can see that they broadcast almost every day, then I’ll send a key because I can tell that they’re taking streaming seriously. If someone has a sizable audience but hasn’t streamed for months, I question it because maybe they’re only trying to get keys to sell on the gray market. If I’m sending out keys for a game in a specific genre (ex: strategy games), I’ll seek out those who play that genre a lot, and I imagine that most companies do this and make exceptions for smaller streamers if that streamer has a dedicated following for that specific genre. -Martinez

Most companies care about the numbers: how many subs you have on YouTube, how many concurrent viewers you have on Mixer or Twitch, how many millions of impressions do you get on Twitter. Some companies care about moral fiber on top of the numbers.  If you don’t carry yourself in a professional manner on social media and bad mouth other companies or on your channel, what incentive would there be for our company to work with your channel? If we do something that you don’t like, will you attempt to bad mouth us also? 

Professionalism and the ability to lead a community is important.  For me personally, it matters more than numbers. If I go into a Twitch livestream and I see that the community is always talking, the streamer is talking to them and not at them–truly engaging with the community–then that is a very important factor for me. It means you will be able to influence the community into potentially playing the game.  -Mok

There are a variety of factors depending on the particular game. We have a limited number of copies to work with and have to prioritize accordingly. We’ll look at everything from tone to how often a person covers the game and a number of additional factors. I don’t know about the rest of my team, but I try not to work with douchebags. Fortunately, in our industry, those are far and few between. -Chin

Choosing creators to work with depends on the game and the needs or wants of the development team. Publishers will most likely be looking at your list of previous games played (for similar style titles), your follower counts, viewer counts, and how often you post content. Sometimes we will even try to watch your stream, time allowing. For paid opportunities, publishers tend to work through talent agencies. -Hildreth

While some content creators are selected because of size, many are selected because of an exhibited passion for the title/genre. Being consistent in your interest with the game and its genre over trackable periods of time can definitely increase your chances of being singled out for additional opportunities.

During a recent discussion with a developer, they indicated that while they utilized specific benchmarks for their personal outreach, they made clear exceptions to content creators regardless of size who they had connected with at previous shows, and who had shown continual interest in the game since the original meeting.
Be genuine, be consistent, and let your passion be exhibited! -DePree & Hurst

What are your expectations from content creators when providing access to a game?

  1. RESPECT THE EMBARGO
  2. RESPECT THE EMBARGO
  3. Be honest in your commentary, and don’t play, or entertain something you’re not enjoying. You’re hurting yourself and the brand if it’s clear you’re not having a good time. It’s ok to be critical, but be sure you have all the information before prematurely stating something live or on video. Giving false information about a product or issue is a good way to lose credibility from us and your audience. There are YouTube creators out there that can testify what happens when the audience calls you out when you’re wrong. Correct your mistake if it happens.  
  4. Follow up afterward with
    • Confirmation you got the product and it’s been used
    • When you’ll go live with the content
    • What you think and how it went – If your stream or video was a massive success because of the product, then you open the door for another possible promotion. They could come back and approach you for more, or even an extended paid campaign. Don’t sell your work short!

Before reaching out, please make sure it fits for you. This is most relevant to gaming, but when we search your channel and can’t figure out where our product/brand can fit you’re just wasting your time. Be wise and strategic about who you reach out to. -Lunique

If you’re requesting something, we expect that you’ll play it – that’s about it! All we can do is hope you have a great time playing the game and if you don’t that you don’t go on social trashing the title. If you have an issue with the game, let us know. Constructive criticisms are always welcomed and can help positively shape the game. Also if there’s an embargo in place: please respect your fellow creators and media members by adhering to it. -Rubenstein & Morgan

Well, that’s going to be up to any given developer/publisher. Our team makes a judgment call and hopes that our game is going to be showcased by a creator. Do we demand it? No. Are we mad if they use our key without coverage? No. We understand that content creators are gamers and what they like or what helps their channel trumps everything. We go into it hoping that a content creator likes what we have, likes our team and we hope that we come off as genuine. We look for the same but absolutely respect that content creators are creating for their brand as well. -Strauss

My only expectation is that they’ll try the game out offline and give it an earnest shot. If they dig it, then I’ll cross fingers that they stream it. PR and community folks take note of people who ask for every key under the sun and then don’t provide any content or don’t answer emails about their experience with the game, this is a sign that someone is just selling keys or handing them out to their channel without trying it out. -Martinez

I expect the influencers to play the game, let me know when they plan on playing it, and bonus points for tagging us on social media when they go live or put up their video. They have to show that they are just as invested in us as we were in them. Extra bonus points, send a report to the company with screenshots from the livestream or a link to the VoD or YouTube video, explain how many people were there if it was live, some comments about the game (good and bad feedback to help improve the game), and links to the social media or screenshots. A postmortem is the best way to get a company to work with you again. Even if you didn’t enjoy the game, do tell them why and/or why it wasn’t for your audience. Give them carefully crafted, constructed feedback and be sure to mention what you did enjoy, or things you think they could work on to make the game more appealing to you and your audience. Thank them for giving you the opportunity and politely offer to consider working with you again in the future if that’s what you want to do.  -Mok

This is a complicated one! Expectations for content creators can shift depending on the development team, client, game, even the creators themselves. A good rule to live by, if you receive a key, assume whoever gave you the key expects you to cover the game in some capacity. Remember to read key emails, they typically will have expectations included. -Hildreth

Adherence to any stated embargo, regardless of whether or not someone breaks it. It’s far easier to shut down a single leak than a broken dam, and sometimes there are additional circumstances where a scheduled stream feature will preclude the end of the embargo. If a site, or a streamer breaks embargo, do not follow suit, or you could contribute to the breakdown of months of planning. This will also impact your credibility when signing NDAs, future opportunities, and unrelated games. We take note, and we typically do our homework.

In addition to the above, respect for the development process. Everyone has their own tastes, and the space is a subjective one. How you choose to communicate that subjectivity is what helps determine if people would like to continue working with you. If you call a game ‘s***’ or ‘cr**’, make disparaging comments about the development staff, or spend fifteen minutes of a twenty-minute video ranting about a single topic, you’re not really helping anyone. Simply put, apply common sense. -DePree & Hurst

What are some common mistakes content creators make?

Over the last 3 years, I’ve monitored content creator growth and decline for literally hundreds of YouTube and Twitch folks. There are common themes that relate to some shortcomings that come along with their careers, the first being burnout. Too many folks stream the game that’s successful for too long. I’ve seen variety streamers pigeonhole into one game for nearly months and then get surprised when they miss other opportunities. You have to be able to touch different audiences as well as different industries. If it’s games you broadcast and you know a major title is coming down the line and you want in, you have to find a way to match that content with your channel. You can’t wait until launch day to say “Hey this would be great for my channel”. You have to think about how that looks from our eyes.  

Another mistake is forgetting their social presence in other areas. Often their twitter will only be tweets about when they are going live and that’s all. No engagement and no activity are no good for folks who truly want to interact with you. Being versatile in your persona is a great way to be seen, and a great way to get more opportunities with brands outside gaming.

Final mistake is simple and it’s contact information. Basic information about where to email you, and what to email you about is more than fine. If you want to be invited to events, you should have a place (Twitter works) where we know what state/country you live in. If you want to work with businesses, you need to position yourself to work with businesses. -Lunique

A common myth is that we have unlimited codes/hardware to hand out. Codes are totally dependent on title and while we try our hardest to get as many as possible, sometimes we don’t have enough for everyone requesting. If you don’t get a code we understand that you are frustrated, but venting on Twitter or sending death threats (yes, that happens) is unacceptable and will get you removed from all future consideration. -Rubenstein & Morgan

The worst feeling is watching a content creator post a video without posting all of the aspects of a game. Each channel is going to have a purpose; some are entertainment/comedy. Others are walk-through-oriented, some are blind-plays, etc. The ones that ignore their mandate and don’t do the research for a video or game after being provided materials from a team is not a fun feeling, especially for a channel that builds a brand or sends a pitch that gives an idea of what to expect with said content that will be posted. Devs take notice of this. -Strauss

NOT PLAYING EVERY SINGLE GAME I SEND THEM FOR HUNDREDS OF HOURS. But seriously, common mistakes I’ve seen are usually pretty small, like confusing a publisher with a developer or saying the wrong price for a game. We all make mistakes! I’ve certainly sent the wrong information to content creators on accident before, it happens! -Martinez

The biggest mistakes are:
1) failure to respond in a timely manner to emails;
2) bad mouthing companies on social media or their channels;
3) putting a primary contact method on social media and failing to ever check it;
4) failing to respond to requests, even if it is to say “No, thank you;”  
5) using social media or their communities to beg or harass companies to give them what they want;
6) promising to fulfill an agreement (it can be verbal, through a DM or email, not an official contract) and a company is then stuck wondering why the influencer didn’t do what they promised; and
7) bad mouthing the game they asked to play, for free. -Mok

I’d recommend reviewing and editing emails before they’re sent. Grammar and professionalism go a long way. -Chin

Hundreds, if not thousands, of creators forget to tell me why they are not covering the game! Whatever the reason may be, remember to let publishers know why you are not covering the game. Do not be afraid to let the PR representative know that the game is not streamable. Your reasoning can very well shift the development road map and create immediate change! Your voice is important. -Hildreth

There are many different mistakes that can happen and of course that’s what they are, mistakes. One is spamming emails or Direct Messages asking for a response, it may be that our mailboxes are flooded with many other emails and we will get back to you as time allows. Breaking Embargo is another, especially after they have agreed not to. Be respectful, if it’s taking some time for communication please be patient. Remember that mistakes can usually be corrected so keep a positive attitude and try your best to be consistent. -Hurst

I think a lot of the common mistakes are highlighted above and below. These campaigns and outreaches are the product of long term planning, and are not subject to the whim of any single individual. Respect the process, respect the restrictions, and collaborate with us during the process rather than looking to be an exception.
Oh, and EMAIL IN PROFILE. -DePree

What can content creators do to make your job easier?

  1. Clearer ideas on what you want to do with our content
  2. Brainstorm more ideas beyond just getting the product/code
  3. More ideas related to things post-launch. Just because it’s out doesn’t mean you can’t produce great content. Using games as an example, Dark Souls proves that.
  4. Get in touch with us for more unique content. Even if it’s a vlog taking a tour, or just a one on one with the CM live, that’s content other people aren’t going to have.
    Love working with artist, voice actors, performers, scientists and even physical creators (Metal Work, Food, Sculpting)

-Lunique

Have an easy-to-find contact method! The bigger you get, the more likely you’ll have folks impersonating you. I want to make sure I’m sending codes, giveaway stuff, etc. to the right place, so being able to match up an e-mail address to a business e-mail on your Twitch/YouTube page or social media profile is key.

I know it seems so last century, but business cards are also a fantastic way of keeping track of folks (and helps with verifying you as mentioned above) when you’re in person. I’m running around so much at an event, I might not have time to pause for a quick mutual Twitter follow or send a text—but I will have time in the few days after a show to sort through business cards and add folks to our contact list! -Melendez

Just be communicative – I can’t tell you how many times we’ve have reached out to someone and won’t get a response but then they get upset for not being considered. Sometimes things come together quickly and if you don’t respond to a mail we have to move on. Likewise, if you’re going to miss an appointment or event you RSVP’d for, drop us a line so we can give someone else an opportunity to attend. -Rubenstein & Morgan

Read up, learn about the game, get an idea of what you are playing. We hope that when the game is played and showcased that it’s done with full facts. If the game is bad, say it is, but please have all of the information available to make an informed video. A dev can’t and shouldn’t fault a content creator for posting negative feedback; they should embrace that. We’ve watched a tooooon of videos with our game and there’s a ton of good feedback out there. We watched quite a few channels play the game and provide their insight and it’s been invaluable as we work on tweaks. A well-informed, well-thought-out video with issues presented is going to go far and beyond a video that simply derides a game for issues and will almost always result in better relations for future content as well as more followers overall. The vast majority of people that make games do this because they love games; the paycheck is secondary. It’s a very, very tough field and even the big name games can and will struggle with their games. There is a dream out there for everyone in this industry and the more we work to improve and the more that support grows, the more we get those kind of games we can’t put down after 10 years.

That being said; if a channel’s purpose is specifically to trash a game, then by all means. A dev should know each channel they provide content to and know what to expect on how their game will be presented. Overall, our team has been blown away by all of the videos, good and bad. We’ve had an incredibly positive experience with the vast majority of content creators we’ve provided keys for. -Strauss

Having a VOD link sent over would be helpful or having the creator tweet out a link to their broadcast or video with me or our company tagged helps us find their content easier. My job is to collect this info though, and I would never expect anyone to do it for me.  –Martinez

The most important thing content creators need to realize is that this is a business. First and foremost, and at the end of the day, this is a business. We work with influencers and have great, friendly relationships, but we have to report to an executive team at the end of every month or quarter what the return on investment was for working with content creators. Be mindful of that and always remember to be professional. I understand most content creators have never worked in an office setting, but it’s important to treat your creative process like a business–be respectful, kind, responsive and professional. Professionalism carries a long way.  Some of the biggest channels I have ever worked with have quick, polite responses and it’s an absolute pleasure to work with them, which is why I would go back to them for more collaborations. There are also smaller channels who do this, which is why they also get opportunities that may seem unfair to others (it’s not always just based on numbers).  

I’d like people to either tell me their DMs are open or put an email address they actually check in their profile. This is the main reason many people lose out on opportunities. -Mok

It always makes me sad when creators do not publicly post their emails. They lose out on so many awesome opportunities. Also, check your spam man! -Hildreth

Be respectful, we’re people.  Be mindful, there are sometimes hundreds if not thousands of conversations happening each day regarding the game, it can take a moment to respond. Be appreciative, a simple thank you to the developer, or the agency who supplied you with access can make the next few hundred responses a little easier to manage. -DePree & Hurst

Any other advice or tips you want to give to content creators?

There is a point in your day where you have to ask yourself if you’re just doing this for fun, or do you have a brand that you can actually sell well? There’s a point where brands have to distinguish the person who just needs freebies, or who can genuinely make a working opportunity for the product. It’s impossible to work with everyone so it’s going to be hard, but if you set your channel up to be a place where people instantly understand why they are there, you’ve won. -Lunique

Folks that run content creator programs are often very busy, wearing multiple hats. Some of us might turn to third-party solutions for code distribution (Terminals, Gamesight, etc.), so do some research on those and see if that upcoming title you’re interested in is on there! That being said, please don’t be shy. There’s no substitute for forming ongoing relationships with cool folks making cool things (especially those that might go above and beyond a one-off stream or video), so feel free to reach out—my DMs are open! -Melendez

Don’t be scared to reach out to US! Stop us at conventions, ask for an intro from a friend, reach out to us on social media. We want to hear from you! If you want an invite to something or to be considered for something, ask!  The answer won’t always be yes but it puts you in the conversation for the next thing. Be careful what you put on social media. Your personal brand is your livelihood. Finally, know that we genuinely want you to succeed – we are here for you would not be here without you! -Rubenstein & Morgan

The biggest thing is: don’t lie to your viewers and don’t manipulate a video for the sake of hits/shock value. A good developer/publisher expects and respects criticism. The (hopefully) smart ones welcome it and work with their community and those content creators to improve (which is our goal, even if it takes a while to implement :/). It’s just really disheartening when channels post to social media with outright false statements to try to push a video for the sake of exposure. Don’t get us wrong, the number of channels that do this can be named on one hand, but videos that post a review that ignores literally half of the gameplay mechanics or does not disclose that they were provided keys is dishonest and will immediately get that channel blacklisted. The community is small, and that kind of behavior gets out quickly. Be kind, be enthusiastic, have pride in your work and do the research involved and you will succeed. We all love games and the focus should be on that love of games; true passion goes a long, long way. -Strauss

Be courteous when emailing and it doesn’t hurt to be a tad professional (unless you know the person well already in which case please start your email with “Hey asshole”).  Make sure the email address on your channel matches the email address you’re emailing from, this is incredibly important! Only play games you think you’ll legitimately enjoy, it’s good for your viewers and it’s good for the folks handing over a key! -Martinez

Don’t play a game for the money. The offer may seem amazing, but it’s amazing because that company (usually a PR company) has calculated how it may not fit your channel’s audience, and they compensate with more money because the game may not appeal to you. Don’t put yourself in a compromising situation in which you have to feign joy for the paycheck because it’s disingenuous and your audience can tell. Company representatives like to check in on channels and their content, and if they see that a creator isn’t enjoying the game or pretending to like the game, the company will likely want to work with someone else in the future. Never let anyone talk you into a contract or a business opportunity because it could be good for you, listen to your gut–if your gut is telling you that this isn’t a good fit, walk away. You’ll do yourself a favor, your community a favor, and ultimately the company a favor.  -Mok

Go out there, have fun and let your personality shine! We’re playing video games, after all. Not saving the world. -Chin

Do not be disheartened when you are denied a key to a title you are looking forward to. Thank the PR representative for the opportunity and keep a good relationship with them. Stay in touch, grow and let them know! -Hildreth

Please put your email somewhere readily accessible, either on your Channel profile or your Twitter profile. YouTube’s hidden email feature starts adding additional steps to the captcha after you activate it enough times, which extends process of tracking down contact information by quite a bit. Did we mention Email? Put your email somewhere visible. Behind most missed opportunities is an absent email, don’t be that creator. Or, make it easier for everyone and contact us. We all have emails or DMs open. -DePree & Hurst