September 1, 2011
A couple weeks ago, Google hosted the IGDA’s Meet the Game and App Press event. It was an opportunity for developers to hear, first hand, from mobile press veterans about exactly what they’re looking for when they sit down to write about what’s happening in the app ecosystem.
As the number of industry heavyweights entering the app store continues to climb and the number of premium app releases grows exponentially, getting noticed by the right press is just as important as striking the right cord with users. Here are some additional best practices around working with the press:
Just the facts
PR folks, like ad networks, want just the facts: what platform(s) are you developing for, did your app break any records/achieve some ridiculous download numbers recently, is there any new tech your app is introducing, where can someone download and try out your app, what’s your relation with the app, what’s the best way to get in touch if they want to follow up, etc. After laying out the critical who, what, where, and how, now’s a great time in your pitch to tackle the why, but keep it concise.
Know your audience
Knowing that Wired Magazine is markedly different than Wired Online or that IGN covers games differently than GamesBeat is going to help you connect with contacts at those various outlets a lot faster. Put yourself in the mindset of their readers, and you’ll be able to tailor your PR pitch closer to what those authors write about.
Skip the Comparisons
Game reporters hate opening up e-mails with titles like “The Next Angry Birds/Doodle Jump/Words with Friends…”
These are smart people who get thousands of e-mails a week and have spent years in this industry, so they will connect dots on their own if they feel it’s a valid comparison. Usually, press is actually looking for angles that haven’t been covered, and apps that are bringing new, fresh features to the app store.
Keep it professional (2 parts)
For developers, apps are like their babies; they want only the best for their little bundles of joy and to show the whole world how cute they are. So it’s easy to get carried away when reaching out to the press.
Part 1: Don’t carpet bomb everyone at a publication if you don’t hear back immediately–wait at least 24-48 hours before following up with e-mails/calls and understand that you won’t get a major feature your first time around. They may not feature you for a particular story or app list they’re working on, but come back to you 3 months down the road when they have a story that may be more appropriate–that is, assuming you haven’t been borderline harassing them to feature you in all of their writings.
Part 2: Test and proofread EVERYTHING, from your app to your press release to your PR e-mails. And be sure to avoid: different fonts, colors, excessive exclamation points. If hiring a PR firm isn’t currently an option, getting a consultation or leveraging professional help to create a template that you can reuse for press releases or reaching out to reporters is something that will go a long way in helping you distinguish yourself from the rest of the crowd.
Leverage Your Partners
The number of developers going at it alone these days is steadily on the decline; whether you’ve built your app on a popular 3D game engine, are partnering up with social connectivity SDKs, or are plugged into major ad solution providers – you have a lot more outlets to help you get noticed than approaching PR head-on.
Mobclix, for example, is always looking to highlight up-and-coming developers and regularly puts together features and case studies showcasing the innovative ways devs are monetizing.
Likewise, almost any SDK or API provider you’re implementing would be thrilled to use your app as an example to show how awesome their product is and brainstorming creative angles that will get you both noticed will pique interest faster than touting your app by its lonesome.
Has your app been reviewed, featured, or highlighted by the press?
What other tips would you recommend developers employ when dealing with PR issues?
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