Getting press coverage is one of the most effective marketing methods for launching your app or game. However, it can also be a challenge for indie developers. In this article, we’ll show you how to easily get press and the best strategies to use to help you market your indie game like a Pro.
Let’s jump right in …
Game Marketing 101: Start with a Great Game
Before you start finding press contacts to pitch to, you have to make sure your game is great. A game that is just okay or below average will not gain any coverage. For your game to get press coverage, it has to be good. Make sure your game is polished. It should have high-quality graphics, unique gameplay features and be free from any bugs or errors. Double check to ensure it’s up to standard. Look closely at every aspect of your game. Search for any areas that you could improve on. Maybe the graphics could be better, or it lacks the right sound effects. Seek out minor and major weak spots and make the necessary changes to improve it.
To help you pinpoint with accuracy where your game stands use beta testers. When you use beta testers, you’ll be able to get the most honest feedback, which is essential if you want a well-polished game. Your game has to be ready when you present it to journalists, bloggers, and reviewers. So, always check to make sure you’re pitching the best possible version of your app.
Find Your USP / Hook
Once you have a great game, you need to find your app’s USP (Unique Selling Point) or hook. Your USP or hook is what you’ll use when you’re reaching out to press. It’s your secret weapon. Think about what makes your game stand out from the crowd. Ask yourself, ‘What makes my game special?’ Take some time to analyze your game. Sit down and play it again. Then take out a sheet of paper and begin to brainstorm a list of all of the features that make your game special or unique. Try to come up with as many things as you possibly can. You can have a tester, friend, or family member also do the same for additional input.
Examine your list. Select the best USPs you see. Choose a variety of hooks from your list. The goal is to have hooks that showcase your game’s gameplay which will impress game journalists and reviewers and hooks that feature a ‘bloggable’ factor that any general blogger or reporter would find interesting. It’s good to have both of these types of USPs in your game marketing arsenal when you start reaching out to journalists.
Build Your Press Kit
The next step is to make your press kit. In marketing, press kits also known as media kits include all of the promotional material and information related to your app or game. It’s usually compiled together in a downloadable file or located on a particular page on your website. To market your indie game, you need a press kit ready that’s readily available. Press kits are time-savers that make it effortless for journalists and bloggers to learn more about your app. Don’t expect success. Prepare for it. If you want to succeed in gaining press coverage, you need to have one in place.
Your press kit should include a demo video or gameplay trailer, high-quality screenshots, icons, banners or logos if any, and a press release or document providing general details about your app or game studio.
Create a Trailer / Demo Video
Every good press kit should have a gameplay trailer or demo video. In marketing, videos are one of the most efficient visual tools to use. They help to captivate press and to win over potential players.
When you create a game trailer, it should be short. Aim for a length between 30 to 90 seconds, no longer. To record your video, you can use software like iMovie, Quicktime, Fraps, Shotcut, TechSmith’s Camtasia or Lightworks. Choose whatever tool works best for you. Try to record lots of gameplay video and then edit it down into your ideal 30-90 second trailer. If you’re not good at video editing, you can hire an outsourcer to do it for you.
A good game trailer should instantly grab the viewer’s attention to excite, entertain, and explain. You only have the first 20 seconds of your trailer to captivate your audience. Don’t waste valuable time showing the start screen, your logos or with a long intro. Try to dive right in with highlighting your gameplay and hook. If it’s possible to show everything your game is about in a single shot go for it. The goal is to get their full attention and get them pumped about your game.
Be sure to highlight your USPs or hooks throughout the trailer. Your unique gameplay and or features is how you stand out in the crowd. Edit different segments of your gameplay with a soundtrack that sets the tone of the game and creates the perfect mood. Audiojungle.net is a good place to find music and sounds for your game. Trailers are all about showing people how cool your game is.
An excellent example of a game trailer that nailed this is Tribute Games’ Flinthook. The trailer immediately grabs your attention by diving straight into the gameplay. It also manages to highlight the game’s main hook repeatedly, which happens to be an actual hook action featured in the gameplay mechanics. When you watch the video, you automatically know what Flinthook is about, and you’re psyched to check it out. You want your game trailer to do the same. Keep it short but exciting and descriptive.
Include High-Quality Images
Your press kit should include a variety of different high-quality images to promote your app. It’s important to have these types of images available, so your game will be represented in the best possible way. You don’t want journalists to be forced to use Google to find your game’s screenshots or your studio’s logo. What comes up in the search may not be the best depiction of your app or company. Always have at least 3-5 good-looking screenshots that highlight the best features of your gameplay. Add icon images sized for each platform that your game is available on as well. Additional images like banners, your studio’s logo, and your profile image are good to have too.
How to Write a Press Release
Your press release is a major part of your marketing strategy. Knowing how to structure it and what to include is important. Try to create two different versions, one in a PDF that includes images to add to your press kit and another in a plain-text form that you can use and quickly reference when needed for emails.
Below is a quick rundown of the standard Press Release structure for an App (PDF version):
- App Icon and App Name (top, center of page)
- Subject Line (ex. Brain Crusher App Now Available on the Apple App Store and the Android Market)
- App Summary (brief, 1-2 sentences, USP/hook)
- Location / Date / Introduction
- Description (details about app, features)
- Pricing / Availability
- Website URL (app website link for more info)
- About Your Company (mention Studio and other apps if any)
- Press End Symbol (always end press release with the following symbol centered “# # #”)
- Media Contact Information (include your contact info like email or social media links and app download link)
When you’re writing your press release there a few things that you have to keep in mind. The first is remember that your press release is not an advertisement. They are announcements. So try not to exaggerate and appear gimmicky in your release. Focus on your unique selling points and the facts about your game. Also, remember that all press releases must be written in a third-person perspective. Avoid using the term ‘I.’
Take out your list of USPs and hooks and use them as a guide when you’re writing your press release. Your app summary line should answer these two question simultaneously, “What type of game it is?” And “What is the app’s unique feature?” In the introduction section, you explain this further summarizing in 2-3 sentences what your game is all about. And finally, in the description section, you discuss the game’s features and reiterate the hook. Remember to only include images in your PDF version for your press kit. In the text version follow the same format but leave out any snapshots. Although it’s recommended to have a press release in your kit you can also choose to just have a simple word document with all of your game and studio’s information as well.
Pulling it All Together
Now that you’ve got a press release, game trailer, and all of your images it’s time to decide how you’re going to pull it all together. If you prefer to have it available at the bottom of your app’s website as a downloadable link, you can convert the files. Then if necessary, using a hosting service embed it into your site. You can also choose to have your press kit on display visually. There are tons of different styles of press kit templates that you can download for free or buy to integrate into your website. Search and find a layout that fits your game or studio’s style or hire an outsourcer to create one for you. If you have difficulty adding your press kit to your website you can enlist the help of someone for that also.
How to Get Press Coverage
When you have your press kit complete, you’re ready to start marketing your game. The first step is to figure out who to reach out to. To do this, you’ll have to conduct some research. Go to the same platform your game is on and find similar apps to your that are doing well on the charts and make a list. Then go through each game and research to find out which sites have covered it.
Go to Google and click on the ‘Google News’ tab. Then type in the search box the name of the game that you’re researching. Every site that has mentioned the game will come up. Check it out to see if getting a write-up from that news source would benefit your game. If so, find the journalist that wrote the article and write down their details. All of the names that you find during this process should be added to your official press list.
Create your press list in Excel or a Google Spreadsheet. Designate columns to record the company, journalist’s name, website, Twitter profile link, email, author page or link, additional contact, role, and type of media. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it once you have a functioning list. You can also categorize your list by types so all the gaming journalists are in one group and all of the YouTubers or Bloggers are in another. How you organize it is entirely up to you, as long as you record the necessary details.
Take your research further by searching online specifically for bloggers in your app’s niche and YouTubers. The goal here is to find bloggers and social influencers that discuss indie games to reach out to as well. Add all of your findings to your press list. If you’re having trouble finding their emails, try looking at the staff page on the website or their Twitter bio section. Also, you can download the Gmail extension Rapportive. It reveals contact details within your inbox, which can be helpful if you’re trying to guess someone’s email. You can also use email finding tools like Voila Norbert or Muck Rack. Both are great tools.
Take the time to go through your press list and further research each journalist. Reading several of their other articles can help you better determine whether or not to reach out and pitch your game to them. If they don’t seem to be into your app niche, then remove them from your list. Also, try to follow the journalists that you’re interested in pitching your game to on Twitter. Your odds of getting press coverage can increase when you establish relationships and connect.
When you’re emailing press, make each email pitch unique and personal. Avoid just copying and pasting a generic template. Instead, address the journalists by their name in the email, reference the previous articles they’ve written to signify you’ve done your research and have a great newsworthy game to pitch. Write your email subject heading like you would a news article title. Use your press release as a guide. Don’t forget to work in your game’s hook. It’s an effective marketing strategy. Keep your email short and include links to your game and press kit page.
For press coverage, send emails at optimal times according to the writer’s timezone. You can make a note of it on your press list. Remember the best times to send email is early in the week during morning hours. Tuesday through Thursday are the best days of the week to reach out to journalists.
Marketing Your Indie Game like a Pro
Remember it’s essential to start with a great game that’s capable of selling itself. Review your app and if it’s not there yet, fix it. Study your game and find it’s unique selling point or hook. Use that as a guide when you’re creating your press kit and pitching to journalists and bloggers. It’s the special features in your game that makes it newsworthy. Always try to use that to your advantage. For you press kit, create a killer game trailer, snag some eye-catching screenshots and images, and write up a press release. Add it to your website or dedicate an entire page to showcase your game’s awesomeness. Send out press releases to sites like PRMac and PR.com.
Research and find journalists or bloggers that you can contact to help you get the word out about your game. Connect with them and establish a relationship. Follow them on Twitter, read their articles and when you’re ready to reach out to press, send them an email pitch. The results might surprise you. Getting media coverage is just one of the many strategies you can do to get your game noticed. When you’re marketing your indie game, try to start early, make a plan and stay consistent.