The Press and You: This Relationship Matters (Writing an E-mail)

The Press and You: This Relationship Matters (Writing an E-mail)

Posted by Javid Shamloo | Posted on August 23rd, 2015 at 7:06 am

So you’ve worked two years on your game or app.  You get approval from the Steam store or Apple App Store to put your game up.  Your game is awesome by the way, revolutionary.  No one has ever seen anything like it, it’s sure to change the way others make games in the future.  You feel confident that all you have to do is put it up for sale under your name and watch the money, fame, beautiful women (or men if you’re a female game designer…God knows we need more of those), and recognition roll in.  But to your surprise, when you put it up, nothing happens.  No one buys it.  And what’s more, you get a letter from a lawyer saying that you’ve violated a trademark and three patents you didn’t even know existed and that you must take your game down immediately or be sued for everything you own.  You take your game down as quietly as you put it up and roll into your bed, crawl under the covers, and cry.

Sadly, the above scenario is not too far exaggerated from the truth.  You need to have A LOT of things in order before you can release anything in today’s competitive, unforgiving business world; and we’re gonna talk about one of those aspects today: the press.  Specifically, we’re gonna talk about how to e-mail these people, as this article would be way too long if I told you EVERYTHING about the press.  I will be writing more articles in the future about how to deal with the press that include general advice and my own specific experiences, but for now let’s just stick to e-mailing them.

OK, it doesn’t matter how good you think you are, if you’re just starting out nobody knows you and frankly, nobody gives a shit…unless you can show them otherwise.  But how do you do that?  Well, you need to sell yourself, your company, and your (hopefully awesome) product (whether it’s a game or app).  In order to do that, you need to come to terms with that fact that when you’re starting your own business, you’re going to have to “put on many hats”.  You can’t just sit in your room and program the best shit and expect people to notice…they won’t.  In addition to being a software engineer, you need to also be a producer, human resource person, a marketing team, a CEO that handles all the business and legal stuff running a company requires, and be in charge of tech support for the myriad of people who e-mail you on a daily basis with problems from the product they purchased from you.  One of those hats, as I mentioned before, is marketing, and today I’m going to speak about how you can get your game or app the much needed press it deserves, and how that can gain you recognition and make you money.  The first step to this, like I said before, is knowing how to write a press release through an e-mail.

So what’s the basic problem that I keep mentioning over and over?  People don’t know you or anything about your product.  How can you attract these people?  Well one of the most effective and cheapest ways is to get to the few, enlightened individuals that everyone listens to: the gaming press.  These people have been around for a VERY long time, trust me, writing articles on all types of game-related topics.  They’ve seen it all and heard it all, so they’ll easily be able to tell if your product is worth two shits and spread the word like wildfire to everyone who will listen if it is.  And that’s a lot of people, trust me.

So how do you get in contact with these people?  Well, the best way is to e-mail them.  But therein lies another problem.  You see, just like you think you’re awesome and the press should fall to their knees to write about you, so does everyone else.  What does this mean?  It means that they receive hundreds of emails from all around the world from people just like you and that you’re going to need to do something to stand out and get their attention.  So how do you do that?  Let’s start at the beginning.

What’s the first thing you see when you check your e-mails?  The subject line.  Well guess what, that’s the same thing an editor of a gaming magazine or website sees when they get your e-mail…so you need to make it pop!  How do you do that?

  1. Mention the name of your game.
  2. Then write a SHORT sentence that sums it up or a SHORT sentence about an interesting aspect of your game.

Here are some examples of what NOT to do:

  • “My awesome new indie game”
  • “My first game that you should write a review on”
  • “Can you please get back to me about a possible article?”

When you read the above subject lines you realize how retarded they sound…but people write to editors like this every day!  Make a good subject line that makes an editor want to read your e-mail above the deluge of others they receive.

Ok, you did it!  You wrote an awesome subject line on an e-mail that the editor actually opened!  Now what?  If you don’t have a well-written, sharp e-mail body to follow that up with, the editor will snark at you and throw your e-mail directly into the garbage, and may even mark your company as spam.  This isn’t good, so here is what you should do next.

Say “Hi” or “Hello” followed by the name of the person you’re talking to (DON’T MISSPELL THEIR NAME) in the beginning of the e-mail.  Right there you’ve garnered more good will than you can imagine.  This is because these poor editors get inundated with spammy e-mails from PR firms that are generally written once with a one-size-fits-all approach.  If you’ve ever received an e-mail from a Nigerian banker that starts off, “Dear Sir/Madam” then you know exactly what I mean.  What do you do when you get those types of e-mails?  Right in the spam folder they go.  Well, if you do the same thing to a member of the gaming press, they’ll be sure to return the favor in kind and dump your dumb ass into the spam folder and block your company from ever contacting them again.  Now you don’t want that, and I don’t want that, so for God’s sake, learn the names of all the editors you’re trying to reach and write to them individually.  It may take longer, but it’s worth it.  Having a template of what you’re going to say to all of them can alleviate the process.

After you greet them, you need to get to the point.  These people are busy with deadlines to meet, stories to write and other e-mails to go through.  They don’t have time to go through your 30 page dissertation about why your game is awesome…you need to summarize it and do it quick!  So what should you do?  Well first give a description of your game.  Give the name of your game and the genre type it is (approximately if it doesn’t clearly fall into any genre), the most cool/fun/interesting thing about it, the game’s key features, who you are playing in the game, what you are doing as the player, and what is your game’s objective.  If you want to give a bullet point list of your game’s features that’s fine, but keep the list to 5, max.

Include the release date (or if you don’t have a release date yet, mention the current development stage), the price of the game (in euros, pounds and dollars) and the platforms your game is getting released on.  Also mention the distribution methods your game will use (like this game will be available in the Steam store).

This all should be very short, not more than a few paragraphs.  Now comes the most important part:  showing off your awesome game!  Provide direct links to your game page on your website (if you don’t have a website, make one NOW), social media sites (if you don’t have those, make them too), gameplay videos and screenshots.  Screenshots should be downloadable as the press will want to use them in the article they write about your game, and it makes everyone’s job easier.

End the e-mail by offering to be open for questions or reviews, then use a closer such as “sincerely”, or “regards”, followed by your name, position in the company and the name of your company.  Then, follow all that up with every conceivable form of contact information you can give (e-mail address, Skype username, phone number, etc.).

If you do all this, have your website, social media pages, and e-mails set up, and an awesome game to show off, I guarantee that someone will get back to you.  But what do you do once that happens?  Tune in next time to find out!

Till then my friends, take care and stay safe!

Write a comment