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Public Relations Challenges: Opinion Leaders and Video Games

Zorrilla, Michele G. (2013) Public Relations Challenges: Opinion Leaders and Video Games. Masters thesis, Radford University.

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Abstract

This study identifies challenges faced by public relations professionals in the gaming industry when reaching out to their player audiences. The framework of diffusion of innovations theory and the role of opinion leaders are looked at to provide a possible route to overcoming some of those challenges. Video games are now a global form of education, entertainment, and sport. The video game industry has been growing in terms of the number of players, games, and genres. It is also changing in terms of electronic sports, mobile platforms and applications, and social media. To keep up with this growth and these changes, video game companies have begun to turn to public relations professionals to build and maintain relationships between them and their players. These public relations professionals are faced with shifting challenges based on their industry. Diffusion of innovations has been chosen as the theoretical framework to provide a possible route to overcome these challenges because of the social nature of the theory and the social nature of video games. Diffusion of innovations is concerned with the adoption of an innovation through a social system (Rogers, 2003). Opinion leaders are key individuals who can influence others in initially adopting an innovation as well as how they utilize an adoption. In the case of video games, opinion leaders are usually media outlets that provide news coverage. They are also individuals who introduce a game to other friends so that they may play together and/or individuals players turn to for opinions about the game they are playing. By identifying, recognizing, and utilizing opinion leaders, public relations professionals may overcome some of the challenges they face when reaching out to their player audiences. To identify these challenges, 10 public relations professionals from both gaming studios and public relations firms that specialize in video games were interviewed. They identified three main challenges: time, knowledge and adaptability, and market saturation and standing out. In order to provide recommendations to overcome some of these challenges, players from two existing video game communities were interviewed. They were asked questions regarding where they heard about games in general as well as their experiences and opinions regarding the particular game they played. Ultimately, further research is needed in the realm of video games and public relations along with video games and diffusion of innovations. Further research to gauge public relations efforts should focus on genres and/or platforms, or particular game titles within those categories. Public relations efforts should also be evaluated per channel since many players seem to utilize only one or two channels for game information and opinions. Further research also must be performed to identify opinion leaders in a given game community before they can be effectively utilized by public relations professionals. A list of six recommendations can be found in the appendix of the study to help overcome some of the challenges faced by public relations professionals. Four focus on the challenges themselves, and two are aimed at identifying different types of opinion leaders.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Radford University > College of Graduate and Professional Studies
Depositing User: Michele G. Zorrilla
Date Deposited: 30 May 2013 18:13
Last Modified: 30 May 2013 18:13
URI: http://wagner.radford.edu/id/eprint/117

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