From Gamer to Industry Pro, One Man’s Unexpected Journey Into Gaming PR

A profile piece written for my PR program on a fellow PR practitioner.

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When deciding on your career, though you may have a particular goal in mind it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where you’ll end up. In the case of Jay Acevedo, PR manager for Ubisoft Canada, he never intended to get into the gaming industry yet is now a member of one of the industry’s big-name leaders.

Before gaming, Acevedo’s true passion was basketball and he spent four years playing as a semi-pro while teaching others on the side. When a knee injury caused his career to abruptly stop he wasn’t sure where he would end up.

“When my basketball career didn’t work out so well, I started developing much more the coaching aspect, the working with public, basically,” said Acevedo. “It helped out, in order to help me forget my failure as a basketball player. And then finding out that speaking with people, and being much more approachable in terms of public, and being around more people and talking about something that I like, through coaching, I ended up liking it very much. But gaming never really was something, like I want to do a career out of it, it was never in my plans.”

After the disappointment of his short-lived basketball career, Acevedo, along with a friend, started blogging about video games. Soon after, they were working within online communities. A few years passed and, when he and his friend noticed that interest in blogging was on the rise, they decided to push it further and joined the website Game-Focus.ca as a result.

Game Focus consisted of game reviews, podcasts, as well as attending and reporting from numerous events and conventions. As his experience in the field increased during his involvement with the site Acevedo’s friends started asking him if he’d ever consider working in the industry. “No way,” he’d reply, “this is just for fun.”

When the blogging community finally exploded online, he realized that “there are lots of people out there, to make it out I have to keep going and pushing.” As a result, his blogging hobby became a 24-hour management job, complete with two phones that were always at the ready and a laptop that was hardly ever shut off. After several years of fulfilling his responsibilities, which included writing five-to-ten reviews per week, he became exhausted and eventually decided to quit.

“It was hard for me to realize it,” said Acevedo, “to say, well, I have to go back to the hobby thing and just play games and write just for fun, that basically, there’s no chance for me to do anything.”

With this decision, during what he thought was his last visit to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in LA, he told his contacts and friends in the industry that he was giving it up. It was then that an opportunity he hadn’t considered was presented to him.

During dinner with a good friend in the industry he was asked, “Well, what about working in the industry, y’know? There might be somebody out there that’d like to hire you.” Though he didn’t know if one existed, Acevedo figured he’d give it a shot.

Soon after E3 he wrote emails to all his industry friends and contacts thanking everyone for the memories. Within hours, emails starting coming back offering him jobs. Acevedo didn’t know what to think.

“I didn’t believe it,” said Acevedo. “Up until Ubisoft showed up they were basically saying ‘we’re looking for PR, we’re looking for someone that knows gaming inside-out, what do you say?’”

Despite having no relevant schooling in the PR field as well as three unfinished degrees, his six years of industry experience, along with his friendly and approachable demeanor, were considered more than enough for the job. Yet, even with his experience, when Ubisoft wanted to interview him he couldn’t avoid feeling intimidated and scared.

“Ubisoft is kind of a big step,” said Acevedo. “Usually when somebody enters the industry they start mobile, small studios, independent, and then they work their way up. To get to Ubisoft, to get two interviews and they basically say ‘you start Monday,’ I couldn’t believe it.”

When asked why he went for it despite his apprehensions he replied, “I want to be with people. It’s us that make everything amazing, so I want to be a part of that.”

Now Acevedo is responsible for many things that reflect Ubisoft’s strategic goals. He manages communications programs, oversees the implementation of external and internal public relations programs, and develops and maintains positive relationships with selected media. In addition, PR-related events, editing and approving press releases, speeches, and articles and statements for the media and consumers are all his responsibility.

It’s almost hard to believe this began as a simple blogging hobby, yet Acevedo believes anyone can be just as successful as him provided they stand out from the rest of the crowd.

“It’s not necessarily what you’re trying to convey but how you’re trying to convey,” said Acevedo, “because that is how you get the respect, the viewership and the readership at the same time.”

Through this natural progression, Acevedo, who didn’t believe he’d work as part of the gaming industry nor ever considered PR as a career, has emerged as a successful PR manager. It just goes to show that anything can happen, that it’s all a matter of figuring out what’s important to you and going for it. As Acevedo remarked, “It’s an industry that’s really tough to get in but if you got this drive, then nothing can stop you.”

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