Sunday, June 3, 2012

E3 2012: How the Big Sites Cover the Big Shows

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is almost upon us, and as excited as I am for all the big gaming announcements that will be coming next week, I’m actually more interested in how different news outlets will be covering the show. I’m a big process nerd--I like to know how things are made. News coverage is no exception.

When big show like E3, New York Comic Con or Gen Con comes along, the websites that cover games, comics and entertainment are all vying to be the one stop shop for people looking to follow the news coming out of those events. But the sites that cover these events best have a strategy that goes beyond just live-blogging the major press conferences and reprinting press releases. They have a strategy for covering these shows that is a combination of material that’s being generated at the show mixed with features that were put together well ahead of the actual event. These features have been coordinated with the publishers and pr reps to be released at a certain time during the event for maximum impact.

 Let’s say for example that there’s a press event for Halo 4 at E3 this year. There will be tons of sites that live-blog the event, but the sites who know what they’re doing will also have additional content to tie into that press event. Maybe they spoke to one of the Halo 4 devs a week ago, and their exclusive interview will be posted on their site right after the press event is over. Not only does this expand their coverage beyond what a lot of other sites are doing, but it also gives the illusion that the interview is being conducted at the show, as if they corralled one of the developers as soon as they stepped off the stage and interviewed them. A lot of bigger sites also have people covering the show from their home office as well, watching the streaming events and then writing recap articles, or taking news bits that are forwarded on from the show and making meatier articles out of them.

When a site really nails their coverage of a show, they have a consistent stream of news and features that are releasing throughout the show and for days afterward. For some sites, the larger events put more eyes on their site than at any other time during the year. It’s a big deal, and every site wants to be the one that becomes the go-to site for masses.

I was fortunate to work for Comic Book Resources for a couple of years and participate in coverage of both New York Comic Con and San Diego Comic Con. CBR is a well-oiled machine of coverage during major shows, with news, features and video interviews happening throughout each event. They set the standard for comic show coverage, in my opinion. I was coordinating the game coverage for those shows, and had the experience of covering NYCC from the vent, and SDCC from afar. They were great experiences, and seeing what happens behind the scenes is what really got me interested in the process of event coverage.

So for both the news and the news coverage, I am really looking forward to this year’s E3.