Founded by former video game journalists and content creators in March of 2017, Oceanside, Calif.-based Vicarious PR seeks to bring positive change to the games industry with its authentic mission and vision, offering a holistic approach to PR, without cookie-cutter approaches or “spray and pray” email blasts.
“Our company was founded with only one mission in mind: to bring professionalism, excellent customer service, and accountability to the video game PR industry,” says Vicarious CEO Michael Brown. “Our clients heard our message loud and clear, as evidenced by all of our work in our first year coming exclusively from customer referrals.”
Providing value to clients is the firm’s top priority, so they provide open channels of communication, precise project planning, and honest feedback. It’s about providing a hard day’s work, measurable goals, and a level of consistency that makes customers know they got their money’s worth. Their aim is to not just gain a client’s business but to provide the results and relationship to keep it long term.
Read on to discover why Vicarious PR was a multi-award winner in Bulldog’s 2018 Stars of PR Awards, taking home a Gold Award in the “Best New Agency” category, two Silvers in the “Small Agency of the Year” and “Best Industry-Focused Agency” categories, and a Bronze in the “Agency That Gets Results” category in Bulldog Reporter’s 2018 Stars of PR Awards.
Client growth and retention
Vicarious PR was created with no investment or start-up funds. Co-founders Brown and Jorge A. Gaspar bootstrapped the company from the ground up. All figures and growth have been achieved organically through word of mouth and client referrals, with no marketing. In their first year of operation, they posted strong revenue and profit numbers, and grew from two to five full-time employees.
The firm went from one client and one project to over 20 clients and handling more than eight concurrent projects per month—along the way providing a superb client retention rate—and is expanding rapidly with an average of one new client per calendar month.
“Our clients have remained loyal to us by not only giving us repeat business for their games, but they’ve also provided multiple referrals to us over the past two years,” Brown offers. “We display our customer testimonials proudly on our website. Thanks to our focus on not only providing results but also first-class customer service to our clients we have maintained a client retention rate of 85 percent.”
Clients include high-profile companies such as Tencent Games to small independent companies. The agency provides services to mobile, PC, console, and VR games; to clients in North America, Europe, China, and Japan. They have even been able to support small companies with pro-bono work.
The founders believe their employees are the most important asset in the company. The firm focuses on training up and teaching employees to be the best in the industry, fostering an environment full of collaboration and tutorship. Agency executives are hands-on with all projects, providing a structure for all our staff to learn, improve, gain a multitude of skills, and have support to rely on.
Firm culture allows staff to be the very best at what they do, and leaders help grow and sustain their passion and seek to set staff up for a bright happy future. “Our company culture encourages a work-life balance for employees and prioritizes employee training and growth,” Brown relates. “We make sure that all our staff feel welcome and valued and try to put them first. Using Discord and Asana, we are all able to work remotely, while still having the ability to collaborate efficiently.”
Internal highlights include:
- Solid pay structure and room for advancement as the company grows.
- More holiday time for staff than the average agency.
- Personal days and a week of bereavement leave.
- Flex-time for staff.
- Access to ongoing training, consultation, and education programs for staff to learn more and gain new skills.
- Zero staff turnover—only additions to the team.
- Company-provided equipment such as computers and laptops.
- No internships even for new employees.
- A diverse and inclusive company culture that promotes a safe and healthy work environment.
The founders believe their methods and policies allow employees to happily work from home, while still fostering teamwork and high productivity expectations. They all love video games, and that’s the first required step to work with Vicarious PR.
“We’re proud of all the campaigns we’ve provided to our clients. However, we are most proud of the ones on a shoestring budget,” says Brown. “One [particular campaign] this year had a budget of less that $8000 for a product launch, which we turned into a widespread critical and commercial success selling over 100,000 units in the first month.”
That campaign, for a puzzle video game, was a niche product for which large success was deemed unlikely by the client. In addition, the effort had no influencer or advertising marketing budget, and even had to overcome a pre-launch crisis that the firm was able to turn into positive media attention. But with a sharp media outreach strategy that included pitching smaller blogs, influencers on YouTube, and reaching out to gaming groups on social media, the campaign was a stellar success, generating more than 150 media articles and over 4.5 million YouTube views.
Congrats to Vicarious PR on its powerful launch, and for winning four Bulldog 2018 Stars of PR Awards in its first full year—and to many more years of success!