Public Relations Overview
This page provides foundation-building insight into what public relations tactics consistently prove useful in promoting a new game, regardless of the size of your budget (even if you have none at all).
Public Relations (aka media relations, press relations, blogger relations)
Public relations is a large and complicated practice, but for the purposes of launching a new game, or sharing news, it boils down to just a few, relatively simple, key elements:
- Media relations, aka blogger relations, press relations
- Media lists
Media relations, aka blogger relations, press relations
Media relations is the process by which you identify and contact influential people in the media with the ultimate goal of having them write about you, your news, or your game. The types of influential people covered by the term "media" has broadened considerably in recent years and now includes bloggers, YouTube channel personalities, Twitter accounts with high numbers of followers, influential Pinterest users...the list goes on and on. It boils down to this: If you can convince an influential person to write about you, you will get attention which, hopefully, translates into some action you want. Such as a sale.
This page will touch upon some basic methods you can use to identify influencers, contact them, and what to say when you reach them.
The media list is simply a list you compile with names and contact information of influencers you are trying to reach. Most commonly this takes the form of a simple table with the following fields:
- Company name
- Email address
- Phone number
- Miscellaneous notes
Keeping a media list is a good idea because it can help you keep track of who you have contacted, how often you've contacted them, and when you last did so. This is important because influencers are just normal human beings who really prefer not to be spammed, so by keeping good notes you can ensure you never contact the same person too often, too quickly.
How to identify influencers
The first thing you need to ask yourself is, who is your audience? Who will buy your product, or use your service? Is it teenaged males with copious disposable income? Is it females aged 25-35 who enjoy puzzle games? Once you know your audience, think about where they go to learn about new products or get news. Is it a local newspaper? Twitter? Blogs, magazines?
identifying influential web sites
From here, there are a few ways to identify the most influential of the bunch. For web sites, go to <a href="www.statsaholic.com">Statsaholic</a> and plug in the web address of the site you're considering. Statsaholic will give you the monthly or annual web traffic numbers for that site -- if they are available. If stats are unavailable, odds are the site you're looking at isn't very influential. Take these traffic numbers and include them on your media list, then sort your list according to who has the highest traffic -- congratulations, you've identified influential sites.
If all else fails, take note of the number of comments a web site gets. Highly trafficked sites get numerous responses to their posts -- five comments, while it seems like a low number, is actually a good start.
Identifying social networking influencers
For social networking sites such as Twitter, the number of followers a person has is the best indicator of influence. So it goes, generally speaking the more connections a person has, the more influential they are.
How to contact influencers -- the pitch
Once you know where your audience goes, visit those places and try to identify one or two people who might be interested in writing about your news. Finding contact information for someone is usually trivial -- most bloggers list their email address on their front page, or under a "Contact me" link. Most magazines will have a similar setup, or will have a "masthead" page. Alternatively, assuming you're still looking at a web site, clicking on the name of the author of an article will usually take you to a profile with contact information.
It's important at this point to note that you don't want an "info@SITENAMEHERE.com" type of address. You want to actually reach the inbox of the person you are trying to reach. So if you aren't able to get their address using the methods I've just outlined, the next best step is to take to a search engine and experimenting.
First, assume the person's email address ends in the name of the domain their site is on. Therefore "techcrunch.com" email addresses will end in "@techcrunch.com." Now try doing searches with variations of their name in the search engine. For example, assuming your influencer's name is "John Smith" you would use the following variants:
What you're looking for, every time you do one of these searches, is confirmation that the address you've typed is real. Look at the first page of results -- does the address you've just typed appear in there? If so, visit the page where you see the address appear and confirm that this is accurate.
Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. Sometimes you'll simply never be able to identify someone's address. In that case, start with the mostly likely email address (first initial last name is quite common) and keep sending until you don't get a bounce.
What to say to influencers
The only time you should contact an influencer is when you have something newsworthy. That is, anything NEW. Here are examples of things influencers in the gaming space are interested in:
- New screenshots or concept art from your game
- Playable builds
- News of interesting or innovative new features
- Offers for interviews at development milestones
- Announcements of partnerships or deals
- The announcement of your game launching for sale
When contacting influencers, assuming you are using email, you should keep your message detailed and concise. Resist any urge to use hyperbole in your message. While it is good to try and show how passionate you are about something, err on the side of caution and provide all your most critical information within the first paragraph of your message. Attempt, as best you can, to include the following elements:
- Answer who, what, when, where, why, and how in the first 2-3 sentences
- Include links to screenshots or other relevant files an influencer can use in their post
- Always include your contact information
After you've prepared your message, check the spelling and grammar. Remember, you're contacting people who care quite deeply about clear communication and use of the language. If you aren't confident in your abilities, find someone who is and ask them for help. It WILL be worth your time to do this.
You should follow up your first message two or three days after sending it. There are two reasons you should follow up. First, it is common for influencers to receive many emails like yours every day, so it is normal for them to not respond the first time because they probably haven't seen your note. The second reason is that many people simply do not follow up their emails, giving you a slight advantage.
If you do not receive a response to your follow up, wait two or three days and follow up once more. Let the influencer know that this will be your last time writing. At this point you should stop sending anything as the influencer is making it clear, by not contacting you, that they are not interested. Although it may seem rude, understand that they simply get too many emails to be able to respond to them. However, just because you don't get a response, doesn't mean you shouldn't contact them ever again. Keep them on your list, and try to reach them again next time you have news to share.