“How can indies get press attention?”
I attended an event specifically on this topic a whopping NINE years ago, and covered my findings on the Force Of Habit blog (rip).
This solid block of advice still stands today, however, influencer marketing has a much higher ROI, so should take priority over traditional press outreach. Anyhow, with a sprinkle of refreshment for 2022… here we go again!
Read news, read reviews, read everything. Get a feel for what particular journalists like to write about. Find the ones that like to write about games like your game. Find the journalists with an audience that matches yours. Maintain your findings in a spreadsheet or CRM tool. If you target well, they could champion your game and spread enthusiasm. If you target badly, you will 100% be ignored. Don’t write to Rock Paper Shotgun about a mobile game. Don’t write to GamesIndustry.biz requesting a game review. Use your brain!
It’s better to have a few contacts to whom you can give a tailored message, than to have many contacts who receive your generic drivel. A wide net isn’t as effective as a steady line. Don’t start emails with “dear sir/madam”, “press release” or “app review request” - give them something personal. Directly talking to journalists and forging human connections is also a great way to stand out!
Speaking of which: gaming events are the perfect place to meet new people and introduce yourself. In fact, some events even offer the opportunity to book 1 to 1 meetings with press and content creators! Choose the event that best fits your game, prepare a short demo, and pack it all nicely for the trip. Don’t forget to dust off your press-kit and bring plenty of business cards, you’ll need to hand them out to as many journalists as you can find!
You know what your targets like to write about and what content goes in their writing. Give them all of it. Give them a short description of your game. Give them the release date, platform/s and price/s. Give them a screenshot. Give them a gif. Give them a video. Give them a build / promo codes. Give it them 3 weeks in advance. Make sure all of this is in an easy-to-navigate online press kit. Make it stupidly easy for them to write about your game. Read this, twice. If they need a circle, don’t give them a square. Don’t send huge files as attachments, send links. Don’t ever watermark anything. That would be silly.
Target bigger publications first. Offer them a limited exclusivity on your game or story, they’ll love it. If your message is ignored, send a reminder every week for two weeks, then review your approach, move on to other, smaller publications. Often the big guys will have eyes on the small guys. Journalists are like a pack of wolves; on the hunt for page views, wolves trying to feed their readership, the advertising machine. A story can snowball.
Often your game will have some thematic cross-over in to other specific-industry fields. Tell them about your game too. It might be so leftfield that you get some coverage. If your game is about toast, get in contact with Good Food, Food Magazine, Delicious Magazine; have a good spread.
Don’t give too much away too soon. Feel free to say “no” if press ask you for more information on your game. You lead the discussion. You control the reveal of information. Your information is your leverage. Be explicit on things you want to keep under wraps.
Are you using a new technology or taking a different approach to game development? Write about it. Did you release a game with little success? Spend some time compiling a post-mortem. Write about the decisions you make, offer insight into your creative process. Talk at events and share progress updates on social media. Celebrate your work! Journalists love to buzz around promising games - be ready for interviews!
Don’t be boring, be personal. Don’t be corporate, be eccentric. Don’t get mad, get even. Not sure on that last one. You’re indie - you can do whatever you want! Building a unique community around your game and curating its tone of voice will do wonders to make it stand out.. Don’t forget to be authentic, though - nobody likes a poser!
That’s all for now! If you were looking for influencer/streamer outreach tips, I guess I’ll have to write another post.
Got any other tips for reaching out to games press? Come share them in the Discord! I’ll cover any submissions in a follow-up post. 🙂
(Edited by Alessandro Cossidente)