5 Ways Running a Media Campaign is Like Playing Minecraft
“Minecraft is a game about placing blocks to build anything you can imagine. At night monsters come out, make sure to build a shelter before that happens.”
You start with nothing.
When you start Minecraft, you spawn in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a generic skin. You walk around, check out your surroundings, find out where you are and where you want to build. You have no inventory and have to gather your material with your bare hands from things nearby. This is rudimentary grunt work, punching trees and animals with your hands, but little by little you figure it out what works and what will get you murdered by zombies.
Media, same deal. Ok, fewer zombies but you have to start from somewhere. Maybe you have a swift word of mouth network in your corner, or a ton of Twitter followers﹘maybe you have a large extended family. The things you learn about audience and message at the start can be leveraged to inform your choices when you make the step to paid media.
Time moves quickly so planning and awareness are key.
In Minecraft, the days last 10 minutes, nights are 7 minutes and dusk/dawn are about a minute and a half each.
In Media we often joke about the time because we are looking at “now” but also the week/month/year ahead. By the twelfth of the month of January it’s already February. Deadline for print and lead time for events is important to consider. You have to allow for time to get the message out. Keeping on top of the cycle of days will keep you timely with your campaigns and posts.
Use the best tools you can for the job at hand.
An iron pickaxe is better at digging than a wooden pickaxe. It’s more durable and efficient. What’s better than an iron pickaxe? You guessed it, an ENCHANTED iron pickaxe! Enchantments don’t keep the tool from wearing out, they just increase the chances of success based on the enchantment.
Running your paid media on your own can be like using a wooden pickaxe: it works, but it’s clunky and you may wear yourself out. So you empower a staff member to do it as a side project (iron pickaxe!). It is an improvement, but that staffer already has a job. So you hire a media team (enchanted pickaxe!) and you and your staff focus on doing good work, and the media team uses their expertise to use the right “enchantments” to get a return on your investment.
Documentation can help, but in the end you are building this yourself.
There are tons of wikis and videos for how to build houses and castles and intricate farming tools in Minecraft. Same for Media. There are gurus and experts publishing ebooks and vlogs daily telling you what you ABSOLUTELY MUST DO to increase leads or sales. Some of it is helpful, a good bit of it is filled with nonsense game play, and bad audio. It takes a bit to dig through and find the good stuff, but it is worth it. Increasing your knowledge about how media and marketing works can help you improve your strategies. It may be what you need to know in order to decide that you don’t want to handle the media yourself at all, in which case your knowledge about what media is makes you a better client.
It can be fun.
Minecraft, in all its building and engineering glory, is a game. It uses strategy, logic, and bright fun colors to keep you interested. To me, the best part is the surprise of each level and the unpredictable monsters. Media has strategy and logic and unpredictable monsters too, by way of PR crises, algorithm changes, and internet Trolls. The stakes are higher because you are working with actual money, not trading zombie flesh.