Duncan Purves and Lee Kirton on putting the 4media group on the map when it comes to video games

Duncan Purves
Lee Kirton

Duncan Purves and Lee Kirton talk to Richie Shoemaker about 4media group’s drive to get in2 games and make a difference.

For those unfamiliar with the 4media group, give us a little bit of history?

Duncan Purves: We’ve been looking to grow our gaming and entertainment offering with the new company as it is now, which is 4media group, which had been merged with Stature PR. We’d been in that space for many years, but 4media group hadn’t, so we needed the right person at the helm of that division to help us. We’ve been working with Lee for 15-odd years, on the client side, from Premier PR days through to Stature PR, so we’ve been well aware of his abilities over that period. Lee and I got chatting and we made it happen, and that’s where we are; developing that entertainment division and going from strength to strength.

In terms of your entertainment offering, is gaming the focus?

DP: It’s quite heavily [game] focused at the moment, but that’s not to say we won’t be introducing other properties to it. We’ve got a lot of heritage in movies and TV from my tenure at Premier, so we have a lot of experience in that area. Games is an area that we know well and there’s a lot of opportunity, so we have been leaning into that. So to your question, no, we’re looking at anything that whets our appetite and that we believe in. That’s what we’ll go after from a client perspective.

4media is obviously a global operation, so will you be focused on global clients?

DP: UK, Europe and the US are the heartlands for us. We’ve got quite a large team in the US. 110-ish [people] from Bentonville to Dallas to Los Angeles to New York to Chicago. But, absolutely, global campaigns are one of the USPs that we have. Having boots on the ground in different territories enables clients to have one agency rather than many.

What’s the pitch; what’s the 4media USP?

DP: We have a research agency. At the heart of our businesses is research. Every campaign that we do is built off of data rather than fluff. We focus on facts and data. We have been able to build out qual and quant insight for clients and and we’ve recently launched our focus testing product specifically with the gaming industry in mind, allowing game developers to develop and enhance their games through the insight that we provide them with and the panels that are testing the games provide that insight, so that’s quite an exciting element for us. We’ve also got our broadcast division from the satellite media tours and broadcast days that we do. That is a product that we can offer gaming clients and PR is the tertiary of that. It’s an interesting place to be and we have been generating quite a bit of traction in the market since Lee has come on board.

Lee Kirton: What I want is for us to take responsibility. That means be involved and get into the details. I’m spending probably half my time working closely with the developers that we’re working with internally, and the other half working with the 4media team who are experienced in so many different disciplines from broadcast PR [to] research to events to creative and working with them [all] collectively to deliver on all of those projected assets and strategy to hit those objectives. There’s actual care for their business rather than, “Here’s £50,000 pounds, go and go and get some articles in Edge Magazine”.

Lee, you’ve predominantly been on the publishing side of PR, so what’s the challenge and appeal of being on the agency side?

LK: The research thing for me was really, really important, because a lot of PR agencies just say “Yeah, we can do this. We know influencers. We know press.” and off they go. But, actually, having an incentivised global panel of thousands that are part of the 4media infrastructure, to be able to put out proper research pieces and then form the basis of a communications campaign around that means it’s real data, real information and real knowledge. Working in an agency like this gives us even more opportunities to help studios that wouldn’t necessarily get the opportunities to be seen.

There are so many great games out there that just appear on the dashboard of the Xbox or PlayStation who nobody ever knows about. So many games pass us by, and it makes me feel a bit sick. What we want to do is be able to help them, working with the small budgets that they have, to be able to do big things. So whether that’s being able to do a live action trailer around a game that might cost Activision or EA $200,000… we’ll do that kind of quality, that kind of creativity, for a lot less money, and actually deliver better results in places. There’s the opportunity here to do something different and to work closely with some really passionate people here who understand that. I can lean on them to help deliver on some of those results.

So what’s next for 4media?

DP: Our goal is to put 4media group on the map from a gamers perspective, because even though Stature was in the games space for ten years, working with Bandai and Warner Brothers and a variety of leading publishers, we haven’t really done any publicity or marketing for ourselves. That’s always been at the bottom of the agenda. We’ve been promoting our clients, but never ourselves, and I guess what we’re keen to do now is share a bit more about the work that we’re doing. To really let the games industry know that we’re here. Our goal, really, is to put a marker in the sand.

About Richie Shoemaker

Prior to taking the editorial helm of MCV/DEVELOP Richie spent 20 years shovelling word-coal into the engines of numerous gaming magazines and websites, many of which are now lost beneath the churning waves of progress. If not already obvious, he is partial to the odd nautical metaphor.

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