Posted by Javid Shamloo | Posted on August 29th, 2015 at 10:12 pm
Last week I discussed how to e-mail the press (check out the article here). This week I’m going to talk about what to do when they actually get back to you. I say when because if you followed my advice from the previous week, and if you have a good enough software product, somebody should have e-mailed you back. It’s almost impossible for this not to happen these days with indie gaming and apps being so popular. If they didn’t then either your game or app isn’t good enough (read: it sucks) or you didn’t follow all my advice I gave you last week as well as using your god-given common sense. But if someone did e-mail you back: YAY YOU! So what do you do now? Let’s go over it.
The first thing you wanna do is set a couple of things up. One of these things is subscribing to the websites that feature you (heck, even the ones who don’t) via an RSS feed (with Google Reader or some other method). This will keep you updated on what kind of content is featured on that site so that when these people talk to you, you can figure out the best way to put things in a way that they can use. This will also show them that you are a legitimate fan of their site, which will make them like you more and want to write about you better. The next thing you wanna do is set up some way to track your press mentions. The best way to do this is with an alert program like Google Alerts. This way, you’re reading what other people write about you and sharing those stories through every single form of communication that you have (social media pages, your website, word of mouth, smoke signals, etc.). Also, this lets you keep track of the people and publications who write about you so that if you want to contact them later about an update to your game or app or another project you’re working on, you can reference the last article they did as a way to get in the door with them again. They wrote about you before, after all, so they should be keen to write about you again (unless you fucked it all up and left a bad taste in their mouth).
The next thing you want to do is be available after you send your e-mails out for questions and/or interviews. This is a pretty basic thing but you won’t believe how many indie developers fuck this up. The press read your e-mail, are interested in your game or app, get back to you using the contact information you provided, aaaaannnnddd, you don’t respond. Like an idiot. So they move on to the next story because they don’t have time to waste waiting for your dumb ass to get back to them. They have deadlines to meet and other stories to write. Get back to editors who respond to you ASAP! When you two finally do get together to make the article, show humor in your interview and be humble but direct. Nobody wants to write about a boring asshole or a bragging dick. You need to make yourself good copy. These people are actually taking the time to write about you and give you valuable press, so take it seriously!
Another thing that’s important, make sure they can see and/or play your game/use your app. I mentioned this in the last article when I had you put direct links to gameplay/app videos and screenshots in the initial press contact e-mail. Now, you’ll need to show them more. You can give them more screenshots or longer gameplay/app videos, but the best thing to do at this point is to let them actually play your game/try your app. To do this, you can give them a promo copy of the game on Steam/app on the app store or, if your game is on these stores, send the press a promo code. If you have to, give them an executable of your game/app, just give them some way to get some hands-on time with it and use it for themselves. You know your game/app is awesome, now it’s time to show everyone else too.
OK, so you do all that and the article finally comes out. The press played your game/used your app, talked to you, and wrote a glorious article about how awesome your game/app is and how they can’t wait for it to come out. You may think your job here is done but oh no, you STILL have things to do. The first thing you need to do post-article is send off a thank you e-mail to the editor who wrote about you. This lets them know that you appreciate what they did for you and will garner even more good will with them. Thanking them will make every editor who writes about you your ally, and believe me, you REALLY WANT these people on your side. The next thing you wanna do is follow up on the article in the comments section. See what people have to say about your game/app and your company. This will give you great feedback and let you home in on who your target audience is. You also wanna write in the comments section and get involved in the discussion yourself. This is one of the best ways to build a fan base because it shows people that you care about your audience and are relatable, down to earth, and easy to reach. Just be sure to ignore the trolls who are bound to pop up. If you respond to them you’re not being the bigger person and people will note you for it.
The last thing you wanna do is inform editors about any major updates to your game/app. This keeps you in the news. In fact, you wanna talk to them all the time: before your game/app comes out, when it comes out, and after it comes out. Provide links to previous articles that they wrote about you to remind them who you are. Any major updates will be sure to attract new people who never heard of your game/app in the first place. The more often your company and your game/app is in the news, the more important the both of them become and the more chance people will be to say, “Hey, I’ve been seeing this game/app and these people around all the time. They must be important. Lemme look into this.” Your ultimate goal is to be in the press very frequently, but in order to do that you need to get involved and be a part of the discussion. Not a PR firm. Not someone who works for you. You. The more the king shows himself and talks graciously with his subjects, the more love his subjects will have for him. It’s just that simple. Be that king; don’t get your head chopped off.
Now you’re not just gonna contact one journalist or publication, you wanna get as many of these people to write about you as you can. This will require you to be organized and know who you contacted and what the status of that contact is (did they get back to you, are they interested in interviewing you, etc.). To keep track of the multitude of people that you need to reach, it’s extremely useful to keep a spreadsheet of everyone you e-mail. My personal spreadsheet has columns for:
- Who I contacted and the publication they work for.
- The date of the first contact attempt (I’ll explain why you need this next).
- If I was contacted back.
- The date I was contacted back (if applicable).
- The date of second contact (if applicable).
- Have I secured them?
Now you’ll see that I mentioned a column for first contact attempt. Unfortunately, not everyone you e-mail is going to get back to you. For one reason or another, some reasons having nothing to do with your company or game/app, you won’t hear back from some people. In the case that an editor doesn’t get back to you after a week or two, try to improve and/or change your press release and e-mail them again. If they still don’t get back to you after that, take a deep breath, shrug it off, and move on. Don’t get discouraged and don’t stop trying! This is a very competitive industry, just keep at it and you’ll be fine.
Next week I’ll give some general press advice that showcases all the random odds and ends of things that I couldn’t fit in so far. So, if you liked my first two press articles, stay tuned for the next one.
Till then my friends, take care and stay safe!