Communicating with PR and Requesting Game Keys

Communicating with PR and Requesting Game Keys

If you plan to take streaming seriously, learning to network in professional environments is an essential skill. With practice, you’ll become much more comfortable putting you and your brand out into the gaming industry.

There are a lot of common mistakes streamers make when asking for game keys, but don’t fret, StreamerSquare is here to show you the ropes. We reached out to a variety of industry professionals to get streamers the best advice on communicating with public relations representatives, community managers, publicists, marketing managers and more.


Questions Asked In This Article

  1. How early before a release date should content creators begin contacting you?
  2. What are some things content creators should include in their emails when requesting keys?
  3. What do you look for when choosing which creators to work with?
  4. What are your expectations from content creators when providing access to a game?
  5. What are some common mistakes content creators make?
  6. What can content creators do to make your job easier?
  7. Any other advice or tips you want to give to content creators?

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


“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.”

Andy Lunique
Former Content Creator Strategist
Microsoft

“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
Influencer Relations
Microsoft

“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
PUBG: Battlegrounds

“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.

“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

“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

2. What are some things content creators should include in their emails when requesting keys?


“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.“
Andy Lunique
Former Content Creator Strategist
Microsoft

“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.”

Elisa Melendez
Gearbox Software

“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.”

Jeff Rubenstein & Sean Morgan
Influencer Relations
Microsoft

“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.“
Ben Strauss
Gun Media

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.”

David Martinez
Co-founder
Raw Fury

“Content creators should state who they are, what their channel links are, and provide a brief background on what their channel brand is about. 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.”

Melissa Mok
Senior Partnerships Manager
PUBG: Battlegrounds

“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.”

Megan Hildreth
Influencer Relations Manager
Reverb Communications, Inc.

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.
Jake Hurst
Leviathan Core

3. What do you look for when choosing which creators to work with?


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
Andy Lunique
Former Content Creator Strategist
Microsoft

“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.”

Elisa Melendez
Gearbox Software

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.”

Jeff Rubenstein & Sean Morgan
Influencer Relations
Microsoft

“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.”

Ben Strauss
Gun Media

“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.”

David Martinez
Co-founder
Raw Fury

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.
Melissa Mok
Senior Partnerships Manager
PUBG: Battlegrounds

“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!”

Jake Hurst & George Depree
Leviathan Core

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.
Megan Hildreth
Influencer Relations Manager
Reverb Communications, Inc.

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


RESPECT THE EMBARGO

RESPECT THE EMBARGO

Respect. The. Embargo.”

Andy Lunique
Former Content Creator Strategist
Microsoft

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.
David Martinez
Co-founder
Raw Fury

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.”

Jeff Rubenstein & Sean Morgan
Influencer Relations
Microsoft

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.
Ben Strauss
Gun Media

“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.”

Melissa Mok
Senior Partnerships Manager
PUBG: Battlegrounds

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.
Megan Hildreth
Influencer Relations Manager
Reverb Communications, Inc.

“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.”

Jake Hurst & George Depree
Leviathan Core

5. 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.”

Andy Lunique
Former Content Creator Strategist
Microsoft

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.
Jeff Rubenstein & Sean Morgan
Influencer Relations
Microsoft

“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. Developers take notice of this.”

Ben Strauss
Gun Media

“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.”


Megan Hildreth
Influencer Relations Manager
Reverb Communications, Inc.

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.
Jake Hurst
Leviathan Core

6. What can content creators do to make your job easier?


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!
Elisa Melendez
Gearbox Software

“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.”

Jeff Rubenstein & Sean Morgan
Influencer Relations
Microsoft

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.
David Martinez
Co-founder
Raw Fury

“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!”

Megan Hildreth
Influencer Relations Manager
Reverb Communications, Inc.

“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.”

Jake Hurst & George Depree
Leviathan Core

7. 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.

Andy Lunique
Former Content Creator Strategist
Microsoft

“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!”

Elisa Melendez
Gearbox Software

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 
smart ones welcome it and work with their community and those content creators to improve
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.
Ben Strauss
Gun Media

“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!”

Jeff Rubenstein & Sean Morgan
Influencer Relations
Microsoft

“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!”

David Martinez
Co-founder
Raw Fur

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.
Melissa Mok
Senior Partnerships Manager
PUBG: Battlegrounds

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!”

Megan Hildreth
Influencer Relations Manager
Reverb Communications, Inc.

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.”

Jake Hurst & George Depree
Leviathan Core

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