How To Contact the Press About Your Indie Game

My favorite talk from IndieCade last week was Sue Bohle’s PR Clinic.  I could hardly take notes fast enough.  When I mentioned this talk on Twitter, I got some interest from people who couldn’t attend and wanted to know the basics.  So here’s my distillation of Sue’s PR principles.

This is all based on the notes I took, some of which became illegible scrawls, with missing pieces filled in from memory.  My apologies to Sue if I end up misrepresenting anything she said.  I think this is pretty close though.

How to Get The Press Interested

  1. Describe what is unique and distinctive about your game. What stands out about its production, team, concept, to create an interesting story?
  2. A fun event such as a contest related to your game could generate interest
  3. Always respond to emails from editors promptly, and assume their time is very precious
  4. Don’t use attachments!  Put the press release in the body of the email, and use links to your screenshots.  (Would you open an email with an attachment from someone you don’t know?)
  5. Gather 12 great screenshots.  Pick 3 sites you want to get coverage on more than the others, and send them two exclusive screenshots apiece.  Send the others to the remaining sites as non-exclusive.
  6. Two movies are better than one… but one is essential.  Make a trailer.  Need an idea for a second movie?  Behind the scenes, developer interview, stuff like that.
  7. Look at the recipient’s website before you blindly send a PR… would they even be interested?

Elements of a Press Release

  1. Header (and email subject) should be a grabber.  This may be your only chance to get the writer interested in your game.
  2. First paragraph: Location & Date (like a news story), then answer who-what-when-where about your game in 35-50 words.  Imagine you have ten seconds to describe your game.
  3. Second paragraph: What amazing, interesting and unique features does your game have? Use a bullet point list. Not too many items, maybe 4-8.
  4. Third paragraph: quote from the developer (you) “in quotes.”  This is the personal touch.  Interview yourself.
  5. End with a call to action. Do you want them to check out your review copy? Set up an interview? Figure out what the whole point of the email was.
  6. Write the whole thing like a journalist would. A well-crafted press release could be copy-pasted verbatim and look like a news story.
I found this talk extremely informative, since I definitely violated many of these principles in the past.  I hope you find it useful as well.
Have anything to add?  Please comment!

2 thoughts on “How To Contact the Press About Your Indie Game”

  1. Super informative, and yeah, the press release info stuff is really focused! Can’t wait to read EG’s PR 🙂

  2. An accurate summary, Ian. Amazing how much use information Sue was able to pack into 30 minutes, her industry experience really shows. The biggest thing I took away from her presentation was marketing what makes your game unique. Every interesting game should have something that stands out, we need to determine what that is and play it up. Also important is understanding the point of view of the media – they need quality content as much as developers need coverage. Everything from setting aside those 3 unique screen shots to knowing the target audience of the sites you submit your game to can help foster a mutually beneficial relationship between the game creators and the press.

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