The who, what, why and when of mobile games PR, by Freyja Melhorn of swordfish PR
By Freyja Melhorn
In the mobile games industry, if you don’t tell anyone about your game, the odds are that it will simply be overlooked.
So at some point PR work needs to be done.
Just submitting a title to the App Store and seeing it become a million-seller overnight would be fantastic, but it very rarely happens.
Getting it out there
Exactly when the PR work needs to begin depends on the genre, the quality, the target audience and the prominence of the IP or the studio.
Introducing a game to journalists nine months before release can make sense for a hardcore title with game depth and a corresponding fan base – for a casual game with a significantly shorter game loop, on the other hand, it is a waste of time.
In general, a core title should be announced no later than the completion of the beta, and a casual game at least 4 – 6 weeks prior to release.
Unfortunately, it often happens that a studio misses the moment for PR. We frequently receive requests for support for games which have already been published weeks earlier and were simply lost in the shuffle.
Generating attention after publication is very difficult, because editors in the iOS field typically only report on actual new releases.
In da house
Whether the PR work should be done in-house or by an external PR agency is initially a question of the available staff. Particularly for small studios, there is frequently no dedicated PR manager.
The volume of work required is also often underestimated. Just writing and sending out a press release doesn’t require a PR agency.
The major work only begins later, when every contact has to be addressed again individually and the contact list has to be revised because the individual contacts have changed or the press distribution list simply has to be expanded.
If the company doesn’t have the option of permanently delegating someone for PR work, booking an agency is frequently worthwhile.
Apart from a large database of contacts, this means an enormous relief from the workload and you have – at least in terms of communications – a reliable partner with the right expertise who can also function in an advisory capacity.
Even for medium and large companies, it is worthwhile to outsource work permanently or on a project-by-project basis – for example for trade fairs or individual titles – in order to pick up a surplus load appropriately for specific dates when the in-house PR division is already working at capacity on other projects.
Which agency to choose ultimately depends on a variety of factors.
Expertise: Anyone who has never worked with an agency before will do very well to get a recommendation from a friendly studio.
Of course, you can also go looking for yourself. It is important that the agency can clearly demonstrate years of expertise in the area of mobile games – for example with references or current clients that have been supported for years.
Cheap isn’t better: Your costs obviously need to be and should be kept as low as possible, but the cheapest offer is not necessarily the best. It should be clear to everyone that an all-round, care-free package with support from a fixed two-person team cannot be expected for € 500 per month.
If two or three offers out of several are in a similar price range, but one is significantly lower, caution should be exercised with the cheapest. And as in every industry, the black sheep among agencies, who quietly have the work done by poorly paid interns, should be avoided.
Naturally, this also works in the other direction. Offers that promise the moon at a clearly arranged price should be considered with just as much care.
Affinity: In case of doubt, you should always choose the agency for which you have the greater affinity. Otherwise, it can be difficult to trust your counterpart with critical information and work closely together with them on a daily basis.
Doing it yourself
If it is decided to do the PR in-house, a few important points must be taken into account. First, a target list should be created. Here the media which actually report on the platform on which your game will appear are selected.
If you are able to get hold of a list of press contacts, you should take the time to look through it and sort it – by platform, whether the magazine still exists, whether the editor still works for that magazine, etc.
The more current direct contacts you have, the greater the likelihood of publication. Apart from that, it is a way to avoid landing in the spam folder, because editors have been provided with information they are not interested in.
Simple, but effective
In an e-mail pitch, the editor’s attention has to be gained in a maximum of three sentences. If the e-mail contains nothing interesting at the beginning, it will simply be deleted.
Why? Because the editors of important websites receive hundreds of press releases and pitches daily and have no time to find the important information on the last page of a ten-page document in an attachment.
By telephone, you have a maximum of two minutes to present your case. Therefore, the preparation of such a pitch is one of the most important things if you want to effectively plug your product to magazines.
What about assets?
One often-overlooked but extremely important point is images. For both editors and readers, graphics are an important factor and a product is best explained via a video.
If one is not available, expressive screenshots and the app icon – important for the recognition value and inclusion in the game magazine’s database – are included.
However, contacts should not be immediately overwhelmed with multi-MB files. For a press release, a few select images in web resolution should be attached and high-resolution images can be made available on request. Even more elegant is offering a download link to a secure press FTP.
And finally… paid reviews
Dear indie developers, there are very, very many mobile game websites which, after contact, will send you countless e-mails with review packages, sometimes with hefty fees of up to four figures. Often this is justified with a lack of capacity for all the queries received every day.
Nevertheless, no professional magazine will charge these fees, so please invest your money elsewhere. For example, in trailer production, in advertising, in PR, in merchandise, in cooperations.
Regardless of what these sites say, paying for reviews is not the usual approach.(source:pocketgamer)