Yesterday we attended the ‘Meet the Game Press’ Event in Birmingham, organised by @launchconf. There were 3 presentations on strategies for successful press relations and getting your game noticed. One presentation, given by Will Freeman (Editor of Develop Magazine) struck me as especially useful for small developers. Here are some of my key takeaways and notes from Will’s excellent presentation, mixed with some things that were said in the Journalist panel, later on in the day.
The relationship between press and developers is rapidly changing. Through communication channels such as Twitter and email everyone is able to directly contact journalists. Seize the opportunity.
If you write a press release make sure to write your story. Some key questions to answer include:
- Who are you and who are your important team members?
- What is your relevant history in games so far?
- What is a ‘must know’ about your development studio?
- What is your development story?
- Why are you making this game in particular?
Do not spend all your time just explaining why your game is important, but also add a human component. For example, what does this game mean to you, what are your artistic goals? Consider including photos to put a face to your story; this makes it more personal than just using a company logo and instantly adds a tangible human component. After all, us small developers, are not faceless big corporations! If you send several press releases, do not assume that the journalist remembers prior ones that you sent. Always include all important information with each press release you write. Be clear and focused in your statements. Will, for example, receives several hundred press releases a day. Your press release needs to convince quickly. On the topic of including images, videos and such: make sure to keep the email size small. Do not send more than 2MB. Include maybe one or two images and have a link to more assets in the email. This was said in the afternoon by Alex Wiltshire (Editor of Edge).
Use social media to get involved with the game media. Follow every journalist you can find on Twitter. This allows you to get an impression of what they are interested in, but also to build casual relationships. Just join the discussion and by no means think that your exchange needs to be about your game or company. Keep it casual, but most importantly be opinionated and be personable. If you engage with journalists on Twitter, the chances get higher that they are going to cover your stories, simply because there is a pre-existing relationship. The topic of relationships with journalists was brought up a lot during the event. So it is definitely worth thinking about how you can engage with journalists, without wanting something from them. Really if you think about it, it must be quite tiring to only hear from people when they want something.
The game press participates in almost any game related event. This can be the big conferences like E3 and GDC, but also events like Develop in Brighton, Wild Rumpus or GameCity Nights. This means you don’t have to go far to meet journalists and start a discussion. Just don’t be shy! And even if you should have the occasional bad experience, don’t be discouraged. Persistence is the key.
As a small developer it is best to send out emails with a personal touch. Target specific journalists and start a conversation with them. When targeting journalists and media sites, make sure to know the audience. For example GamesIndustry International is a Trade publication, therefore they are not interested in details about your new game feature.
Assets should not be watermarked. Make it easy for journalists to use your images and videos in their articles. Will recommended signing up with gamespress.com. It is a service used by many game journalists to download game and company assets. I signed up yesterday and from what I can see it is free of charge and easy to use. This is the end of my notes regarding Will’s presentation.
Here is a list of the Twitter handles of all the journalists that were in attendance:
Will Freeman (Develop Magazine) @spadgy_OTA
Keith Stuart (The Guardian, Hookshot Inc) @keefstuart
Alex Wiltshire (Edge): @rotational
Keith Andrew (PocketGamer.biz) @tweeting_keith
Matt Martin (Gamesindustry.biz) @m_spitz
Photo: From left to right Matt Martin, Keith Stuart, Alex Wiltshire, Colin MacDonald (involuntarily the now legendary man with the yellow bandana), Keith Andrews