Is a CM part of Marketing?

I had a great time the other night having dinner with Sam Houston, Community Manager of GamerDNA. (Check out his Twitter) I had a great time talking with him about Community Management and what is really was, and where it seems to be going. I’m young, as is pointed out to me a lot these days, and therefore inexperienced, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t talk about how I see Community Management. Actually, I think it’s a plus that I haven’t been in a Community role for very long, because I haven’t yet stabilized into a day-to-day role, and therefore my view of the Community team is constantly changing.

When I get asked what my job is post-college, I always have to explain in more depth what I will be doing as an Online Community Representative. Currently, in order to keep it simple, I just say “It’s a little bit of marketing, a little bit of PR.” It doesn’t really explain what an OCR is, but it is enough to keep my family satisfied. But Sam and I got to talking about whether a CM really belongs under a Marketing/PR umbrella, and I came out of the conversation really thinking that it does fall under it. Public Relations is exactly that: forming (and maintaining) a relationship between the public and the company. In my mind, that’s EXACTLY what the Community team does. We are, in some respects, the “face” of the company, in that the majority of players interact directly with us on a day-to-day basis. When people run to the forums to post about something, most of the time (with various exceptions depending on which company you are talking about), you’ll be interacting with the Community team. At Flying Lab, most of the posts on the forums were from me (Community Liaison), Dani (Forum Administrator), Aegir (Community Intern), and Rhaegar (Community Lead). There were various other developers who posted when a response was necessary, but besides that, we were the ones the community tended to know the best.

Some people get pissed off when you describe Community Management as a Marketing/PR position. I can’t understand that. Maybe someone can explain it to me. How can you deny that a position which is required to interact with the public on a regular basis doesn’t have anything to do with Public Relations? I’m not saying that the job doesn’t extend beyond PR. I’m just saying that I don’t see how a person can deny that it falls under that category of PR in the first place.

Finally, an update

Oh, man. I know, I know… I’ve been neglecting my blog again. I go through these spurts of posting a lot, and then posting nothing. Forgive me, I know all five of you that read this blog are probably really upset with me. Or, you are sitting next to me in class right now. Hey, what’s up?

Anyways, as you may have heard, I’ve gotten a job at Cryptic Studios as an Online Community Representative. I started two weeks ago, and it’s been awesome. Not just because of the job, but because I finally can come out and say: “I AM IN BETA AND IT IS AWESOME!”

At NYCC, I got a chance to play the demo Cryptic was showing off, and I was, shall we say, less than thrilled. They gave out beta keys, though, and I grabbed one and installed the game as soon as I got home, just to give it a second go. Usually at conventions, they can’t let you play on the normal beta servers, and so they might set up some individual server solely for the convention. So, you basically have to play in this big, lonely world, that allows you to experience the game without lag, but also without people, which, in my mind, is sort of what defines an MMO. So, I gave it a shot when I got home, and wow! There is a huge difference between the demo at Comic-Con and the state of the actual game. The game is way further along than the demo led me to believe. Also, now that I have an actual grasp of how to play, rather than the 10-second glimpse you’re given at a convention, it’s super-awesome.

Now, I know what you suspicious people are thinking: “Hey, David. It can’t be just coincidence that you’re posting about how awesome a game is right after that company hired you…” Well, it is, and I have proof! I talked to a few friends before getting interviewed / hired at Cryptic, and any one of them can tell you how much I talked up Champions before anything remotely resembling a job came into focus. It’s unfortunate that the NYCC demo didn’t do the game justice. Being hired just allowed me to talk about my beta experiences more openly now, since it’s kind of obvious that I’d be playing the game while working at Cryptic.

That’s all the fun news for now. I was in California this week, picking an apartment, buying furniture, doing all the stuff to get me situated out there after school ends. It’s very scary and very exciting at the same time. Just let me graduate already!