No matter how good an indie game is, without a solid game marketing plan, it will never reach the press, influencers and content creators. An important part of marketing a game, especially an indie game, is distributing press releases. In this article we will cover 9 tips On Writing an Effective Press Release for Indie Game Developers.
For indie game studios and individual developers, hiring a game marketing or PR firm can be a significant budgetary burden. In addition, hiring a writer to produce content for an expensive press release distribution service can cost time and money that could be spent on actual game development.
Table of contents Writing an Effective Press Release for Indie Game Developers
Making a difference to the masses
In our experience promoting our games, we’ve prepared a lot of indie game press releases, and we’ve seen a lot of indie game press releases from other game developers, that were not only very good, but also very good for game development.
The media and press that write news and reviews about indie games are bombarded with emails every day from indie game studios, publishers and PR companies. We want to attract readers and keep them coming back.
If the press release is full of typos, formatting errors, or doesn’t present the game properly, it will almost certainly be ignored. A good press release will highlight the game’s unique selling points and include a call to action, such as encouraging players to buy an indie game or inviting the press to play a demo at a convention.
We are going to talk about press releases. While we don’t think it should be the only way to go to the media and spread the word about your game, and a lot of people think that press releases are dead, we actually think that they are still a very important tool.
During our evolution process, we have been asked ourselves over and over again how to write a press release that could effectively reach and grab media outlets/people attention.
Journalists and marketing professionals are usually good with words, or at least they should be. It is very easy to find things that others are not good at. Writing well is not always useful advice, since “writing well” is obvious and “easier said than done. But there are other things that are easy once you know them, so let’s take a quick look at some tips on how to write a good and effective press release.
9 tips on Writing an Effective Press Release for Indie Game Developers
0. On Going Infinite heavy process
We were actually not sure if listing this point at the beginning or at the end of the article, because most of the people are not aware that “Launching” a press release is actually very different that Reaching your objective audience of medias and journalists or other outlets.
To be able to launch a Press Release, you need either to go through a Press Release Distribution service that will usually send your press release to an internal list of contacts, or Distributing it yourself, which in this case, will imply that you will already have gathered and validated a huge list of contacts to be used. You can see that we have used gathered and validated in the same sentence. Having an email is not equal to make sure that the destination will actually get it. There are a lot of factors like:
- Obsolete emails ( non existing, Error reaching it, etc…)
- General email accounts, where are the emails are sent to a large general mailbox where probably they will never leave it.
- Wrong People at the right email.
To avoid, you will have to constantly be checking to get new emails and to validate it. On top, to avoid the cold door problem, we will probably have to be trying to engage and create some rapport months ahead of actually starting to send the press releases. This a very huge and intense work with incredible schedules as the world press never sleeps.
Press Releases distribution will probably giving you some protection, but in our experience, the problem is that their list is not segmented and you have your game press release sent to a news media about Cooking… 🙁
1. State clearly your objectives and timeline
One of the biggest mistakes that is usually done by people and companies with Press Releases is to actually no having a clear plan about how to deal with them within the boundaries of the marketing plan. You need to be very aware of why you want to send a Press Release and when to send them to maximize the impact and the benefits that you could achieve from them. This also means that the process should start early in development as to be able to plan and execute correctly.
2. Identify your most important target audience.
This is a very important point, a mass approach will not work with games related press releases. Trying to send a press release about a casual game to a journalist that is only writing about Real Time Strategy games will not get you anywhere, only to the recycle bin of the mailbox.
Press releases are more effective with those who are interested in their content. It is not practical to keep track of hundreds or thousands of press contacts, but if you know in advance who you want to read your work, you can focus on them.
Do a little research on relevant media and journalists. Specialized sites for your chosen platform, writers who love the genre…. Mention previous articles and reviews written by those people and get them to like your game. This is always more effective than sending a generic email to 100’s of COO’s.
3. Pick your battles Is this really press release material?
Take the time to decide if you want to send this as a press release. For one thing, the purpose of a press release is to get the media to write news or articles about you, so your press release must be newsworthy. If you keep sending out press releases for trivial things, people will look at you like you’ve cried wolf too many times, and they may not even notice if you send them important information. On the other hand, sending out press releases is a lot harder work than you might think, as you will soon find out. Save your energy for the real battle. Development diaries, blog posts and guest authorship, social media, posters…. You have a lot of tools at your disposal.
4. Spend a reasonable amount of time on your press release.
Don’t just write a few lines and send it out. It is important not only for the information, but also for what it says about you and your brand. That said, I am obviously not a native English speaker, but I proofread my writing very carefully. Use images and screenshots with sufficient resolution and don’t make them so heavy that they clutter someone’s inbox.
5. Structure your information.
Remember that you will often be sending news scripts, so structure them as such. Put the most important information – what the press release is about – in the first paragraph. This is very important as probably this will be the only part of the press that will actually have a chance to be read.
For example, if you are releasing an expansion for your game on April 28; in the second or third paragraph, you can contextualize it by saying, “Your game will be released on April 28 20XX for PC, priced at X Dollars, and the content is this and this. That way you can quote good reviews and talk about the studio. It is very useful to keep in mind how journalists think and structure information.
Although you are not a journalist, one of your goals should be to Make it read like good journalism
The more your press release stay close to basic journalistic standards, the less work the journalist will have to do to turn your story into a publishable one and the more professionality you will be transmitting. One of the techniques that are used by media professionals is classic Five W’s:
Your ending, as described in tip 7, should approach the “how” element of your story. It should suggest how the story is relevant to your audience by placing it in context and illuminating why they should be interested by your announcement. Depending on who you are writing to, your press release ending should drive home the human interest angle of your story.
6. Make the journalist’s life easier.
Journalists may receive dozens or even more than a hundred e-mails every single day.So their timespan to discover interesting Stories is very short which results in being very hard to get noticed with all that noise generated from other games competing for the same space, so we need to make it at least a little easier.
If the journalist have to do a Google search to find out more about you, your company and your game, then very probably, your chances are very low because they will just not have the time to do so.
You must Include in the Press Release the link to a press kit with all the relevant information about the game (release date, platform, price, etc.), visuals and studio details; Vlambeer’s Presskit() is a toolkit that can used as a template (although using your own customized material will (always looks better) and that as become of some kind of standard throughout the games industry..
7. End on the right note
Press releases traditionally end are as important as the beginning, because they can demonstrate how professional the studio is, and start to leverage on building a sound image about your game studio.
Ideally, the ending of a press release should include the following elements.
- Hone your brand’s/game’s message
- connect with with readers
- Reinforce the predetermined goal and set in the first paragraph
8. Don’t feel bad that they don’t respond or post anything.
Again, journalists receive dozens and dozens of emails a day.
It is not possible to cover or respond to everything, even personal follow-up inquiries. Some magazines do not respond back to journalists, whether it is an internal rule for efficiency or not.
This is not a personal problem and you should not be bitter or resentful toward them for this. There are thousands and thousands of games to be played. For reference, Mailchimp’s average open rate in the gaming industry is 20.10% (our average open rate is much, much higher).
|Industry||Average Open Rate||Average Click Rate||Hard Bounce||Soft Bounce||Unsubscribe Rate|
|All non-labeled accounts||22.71%||2.91%||0.40%||0.61%||0.25%|
|Agriculture and Food Services||23.31%||2.94%||0.32%||0.50%||0.28%|
|Architecture and Construction||22.51%||2.51%||0.73%||1.18%||0.32%|
|Arts and Artists||26.27%||2.95%||0.30%||0.51%||0.28%|
|Beauty and Personal Care||16.65%||1.92%||0.26%||0.33%||0.30%|
|Business and Finance||21.56%||2.72%||0.43%||0.55%||0.20%|
|Computers and Electronics||19.29%||2.08%||0.47%||0.79%||0.27%|
|Education and Training||23.42%||2.90%||0.32%||0.51%||0.21%|
|Entertainment and Events||20.51%||2.36%||0.28%||0.43%||0.26%|
|Health and Fitness||21.48%||2.69%||0.30%||0.40%||0.40%|
|Home and Garden||21.60%||3.03%||0.32%||0.52%||0.35%|
|Marketing and Advertising||17.38%||2.04%||0.44%||0.68%||0.27%|
|Media and Publishing||22.15%||4.62%||0.14%||0.27%||0.12%|
|Medical, Dental, and Healthcare||21.72%||2.49%||0.51%||0.63%||0.28%|
|Music and Musicians||21.88%||2.94%||0.28%||0.48%||0.26%|
|Photo and Video||23.24%||3.23%||0.43%||0.65%||0.40%|
|Recruitment and Staffing||21.14%||2.53%||0.45%||0.53%||0.30%|
|Restaurant and Venue||20.39%||1.40%||0.32%||0.45%||0.39%|
|Social Networks and Online Communities||21.06%||3.32%||0.20%||0.34%||0.22%|
|Software and Web App||21.29%||2.45%||0.65%||0.97%||0.37%|
|Travel and Transportation||20.44%||2.25%||0.31%||0.51%||0.24%|
If after a couple of days (There is no set time frame for follow-up, but a good rule of thumb is to wait two to three days) you still don´t have and answer, then Sending them a direct e-mail to see if they have seen the press release and politely asking if they plan to write anything about it is usually a good tactic as it will allow also to try to create the relationship.
Your chances can be higher if your are able to use the Press Releases to establish a recurring relationship with the journalist. This is a point where being a game developer or being a publisher is very different, as, as game developers we get to send one Press Release per year at most, while publishers are reaching the media several times per year.
PR requires tireless effort, meticulousness, and patience to get your brand and product noticed. It takes talent, hard work, and a little luck. But you have to be there when the luck comes.
The above is a general introduction to how to use and send a press release, but in the future we will go into more detail on how to write a press release to make it more attractive. We hope you find it useful in your public relations efforts. If you would like to comment on our tips or suggest a topic for a future article, feel free to join us in our comments section or ping us on our social media.