Applying Pokémon Battle Strategy to PR

July 30, 2014

Pokemon World Champion Trophy[1] copy


As an agency with numerous clients in the digital marketing, enterprise, and B2B tech industries, it may surprise some clients, friends, and readers of the ‘No BS blog’ to learn that our longest standing client is, in fact, The Pokémon Company International (TPCi).

Serving as Pokémon’s heart and soul and outside of Japan, Bellevue, Wash.-based TPCi manages the brand at the national and global levels. Over the last 10 years, BPR has partnered with Pokémon on its quest to promote and build the company’s Organized Play event series.

Each year, thousands of Pokémon trainers (ages 6-60) from around the country participate in Organized Play events – competing via the Pokémon Trading Card Game or video game.  BPR works with media to promote the events, ranging from local City tournaments to major international events, and showcase the success of Pokémon trainers in their hometowns.

As Pokémon trainers prepare their decks and select their teams for the year’s most elite event, the 2014 Pokémon World Championships – taking place next month in the largest media market in the history of the event, Washington, D.C. – this team is taking some guidance from Pokémon competitors as we master the art of pitching local broadcast.

Here are three lessons in securing local broadcast for your next event, as they relate to Pokémon battle strategy:

1)   Preparation & Strategy

Stack your deck early and get creative to give yourself the best chance of pulling a successful card in battle.                                                            

While nothing can replace the basic who, what, when, where and why of a media alert, you sure can get creative on how you position your event. What makes your email stand out is in the why – what makes the event visually appealing? Who will be on hand for interviews? Is there a ceremony, or certain times that will be visually most exciting? Significant anniversaries, number of attendees, amount of charitable giving, etc. can all be great details to highlight in addition to the visual appeal.

We also recommend initial outreach to media three weeks in advance of the event – get your event on radar of local broadcast early, perhaps you can even land it on the station’s master schedule. Despite some traditional print/online media adages about reaching out to a specific reporter – make sure that your initial outreach includes a producer or director (not an anchor, unless you have a previous relationship with them) as well as contacting the general news tip email address. Someone is always at the other end, even if they don’t respond.

2)    Tenacity

In the heart of battle, no one has ever won a by waiting for the competitor to surrender.

Local broadcast is won and lost on the day of the event. We’re not sure if you’ve read this on the ‘No BS Blog’ before (read: sarcasm), but picking up the phone and calling the news desk is the most important step in securing local broadcast (and perhaps the most effective use of the telephone in the history of PR, ever). We can’t stress this enough. Yes, reaching out to local stations in advance of the event is essential to getting your event on the station’s radar and making sure they have all the necessary details – but things are always fluid in the news room and nothing can replace connecting with someone making the coverage decisions that day.

Oh, and call before 9am. The news team is probably in their planning meeting then, so be sure to catch someone at the dsk before they determine who’s headed where that day. And if no one answers – call back in 5-10 minutes and someone likely will.

3)   Luck

Sometimes, the type of deck you’re spent hours putting together just can’t compete with the deck you’re competitor is playing.

Major local, national, and international events can cause a station (and an entire media market) to switch gears in an instant. Even if a videographer has already been sent out, shot b-roll, and conducted interviews – your segment can get bumped without warning. This is when fostering a relationship with the reporter/videographer that actually attended the event is essential. Remember to ask when they expect the segment to run and grab a business card (and their cell number!) while they’re on site – both will be important for tracking the segment. If a major piece of news comes up, it’s unlikely that you’ll hear back from someone other than your contact at the station about whether or not your segment ran. Ideally you could watch the show live, but like all major events, there’s rarely time for a TV break when hosting media and managing a million moving pieces.

Closing Ceremony[1] copy

These are just a few of the lessons we’ve learned while landing broadcast in markets such as Indianapolis, Vancouver, B.C., and how we plan on doing the same in Washington D.C. this summer.                            

– Kersa & Michelle

PS – BPR continues to expand our gaming practice, with includes such current clients as Atari and FlowPlay.

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