I just got off the phone with Stone Chin who is the PR lead for Assassin’s Creed at Ubisoft.
He gave me advice about starting out in the industry.
During his senior college year he did 3-4 internships with agencies around the Seattle area. One agency in particular, then called “Wham”, was working on Microsoft games and Sidewinder(their old joystick). As soon as his internship was over, his agency was bought out by Edelman, who also picked up Xbox as a client. They have since been running Xbox PR for some time now (12 years). He was promoted to full time, and had his experiences there as well.
Following his 6.5 years at Edelman, he then transferred over to Weber Shandwick’s Mobile division, only to go back to Microsoft games until finally becoming the “agent of change” for Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed division. A series that everybody will be talking about from now until the game’s primary installment Assassin’s Creed 3, set for release in Oct. 30.
The timing could not be better since we Americans also have an election just days after the game’s release.
He imparted his experiences with me, and some advice:
Don’t turn down internships. He shared stories about number of times when those who were 3-4 years out of college, who were still doing internships. A common practice with many PR people is that they always look at how much time you spend at agencies. This is like a badge when it comes to the industry.
Have a very good understanding of Social Media This is a long-running trend that I’ve seen in the past few years. Despite my short time at Ogilvy, they had a deep emphasis on Social Media, and I ate up every lesson that I could. However short my time was, it served as a great way for me to harness the power of understanding and communicating with an audience. And if you think that being a Community Manager on a forum is a good start, it’s becoming a little outdated. You gotta get on Twitter and/or Facebook.
Video Games PR is not a technical position, it’s entertainment Mr. Chin is a guy who has been able to leverage his success and share the story of AC3 beyond the typical gaming publications, like EGM and Game Informer, and had his stories featured on Entertainment Weekly, and Jimmy Kimmel Live. It’s what distinguishes him from the rest of the pack.
PR is the discipline that drives business. I once thought that it was all about advertising, but when I finally got my look from inside an agency, I realized that it was the PR teams that are in the business of retaining customers. Part of the reason why I made the switch was because PR teams really connect with consumers. I don’t have the talent to show a consumer what they need, but if they want me to tell it to them, that’s where I work best.
As for where the work is currently. He suggested EA Games, Capcom, and even the smaller developers will most likely be needing new employees. For agency work, you might want to try internships when starting out. Like I am.
There’s a final story that he shared that took place while he was an Account Director at Weber Shandwick. It blew me away. He had an employee, one of his best Analyst Relations people, where she admitted that she really didn’t have a heart for this line of work. He asked what she really wanted to do and her reply was to be a wedding planner. Totally different universes do collide however, Stone suggested that she go for that goal, and try to do things while working at the agency that will help her reach that goal. Few years later, she did it.
It’s important to know where you want to be in 5 years. The hardest part, is starting out.