The importance of a (good) newsletter and coping with blacklisting

A portion of a laptop screen showing someone's gmail inbox

A few years ago, I went back to school to update my Digital Media skills and one of the things that really stuck with me was how important newsletters were in digital media. While not everyone is on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media platforms, you can almost safely assume that potential clients have an email address. If you’re working in any sort of field, it’s so important to have a newsletter because it’s a nearly fail-safe way to grow your audience and increase visibility.

People will read interesting newsletters

Of course, newsletters aren’t perfect. Unfortunately, I don’t have the data. But from my experience, while although I get my fair share of newsletters sent to my various email address each week, I only read and/or engage with a very small fraction of them. However, when I do read one, I am almost always clicking an attached link to see or read more about what I just saw.

However, there are two main reasons to have a newsletter if you’re offering something. The first is that they can target more people than focusing your attention on one particular social network (or spreading yourself too thin but trying to target too many social networks). The other is that since people have to actively sign up for a newsletter, they are a strong sign that the person actually wants to know more about the products and/or services being offered.

the top of a recent Atlus/Sega Newsletter for the Yakuza Remastered Collection

I’ve been in the video game industry for over a decade, so I’ve signed up for my fair share of gaming-related newsletters, both from studios/developers directly and from the public relation firms that work with game companies. While at EA, I would regularly work with the email marketing team in preparing content pieces that they’d share in their sports-related newsletters. So I’ve read engaging newsletters and helped make them come to fruition.

If you want to write about games, I strongly suggest you sign up for as many newsletters as you can, especially if PR firms are sending them out. These are the best way to get assets for games you might want to cover, and they are sometimes the only way to get copies of games for review/coverage.

When the emails stop, for whatever reason

But one thing I have noticed, at least for me personally, is that sometimes I get dropped from receiving these newsletters. One PR firm recently just stopped sending me their emails. When I tried to sign up again, it said I was in their system but I just wasn’t getting them. I make it pretty clear that this blog is just a hobby, a way for me to continue my creative writing. However, I wouldn’t back away from writing about a game before it releases (or shortly after launch) as long as it wasn’t a conflict of interest. 

When I wake up, I am usually checking email before I browse Twitter or any other social network. So, if I’m not seeing an announcement about a cool new game or some other interesting news in my email feed, it might be a while before I see it on Twitter/Facebook/Reddit. It’s frustrating, to say the least, but it still doesn’t take away from my possible excitement.

EA.com's newsletter sign-up page

If you don’t have one, now’s the time to start

If you’re in the games industry in any capacity, reading my blog, and your company isn’t distributing a newsletter in any sort of frequency, that needs to change. Even content producers, if they have a big enough platform/audience should be devising a newsletter or email blast to keep in touch with their community. There are tools like Mailchimp that make it so easy to create and distribute newsletters with short turnaround times.

A sad realization I just had while writing this blog is that the studio I’m currently contracted at (The Coalition) doesn’t have a newsletter. However, maybe considering the fact that Microsoft and Xbox do send out newsletters, it maybe doesn’t make sense to double-dip. But for other, smaller studios, please consider developing a monthly newsletter to keep in touch with your community.