In my last post I covered why you should be creating a press kit for your indie game. In this post I’ll be covering exactly what you should be including in your press kit, and how you can make it as awesome as possible.
First, two important points. Firstly, a press kit is not the same as a press release. A press kit will nearly always contain a press release, but it should also contain other elements such as company information, videos,
Secondly, press kits used to be an actual physical folder that was either mailed or hand delivered to journalists. It contained everything the journalist would need to write a story, including contact information if they needed extra details. Things have moved on a little bit with the advent of the internet and email, and you can solely use digital distribution for your press kits. It’s a more affordable, less time consuming approach, and probably how journalists receive the bulk of their press kits.
That isn’t to say that a well crafted “offline” press kit isn’t worth the effort. If done properly, it can be a great way to grab attention and make you stand out – after all, who doesn’t like getting mail? However, simply printing your digital press kit out and sticking it in an envelope won’t cut it, if there’s no difference between your digital press kit and your offline one, stick with digital; it’s easier for everyone involved. In a later post I will explore some ways to you could make an offline press kit work for you. But this post will focus on the far more common digital press kit.
Many people can get away with just creating a press release and getting some screen grabs. However, putting the effort into a great press kit will pay dividends.
What you need to include in your digital press kit
A Press Release. The most important element of your press kit. See below for more details.
Fact sheet. Key facts about your game. Price, genre, platforms etc.
Biographies. More information about your company and key people involved in the game.
Screenshots. People tend to look at images before they read text. So always make sure your screen shots show the game in the best possible light. Try to get 10-15 good screen shots of your game, and give away half as exclusives to your preferred journalists, two each. Then send the rest to other journalists as non-exclusive images.
Your trailer / movie. The best way to showcase your game is with a trailer. Sounds and moving images both at the SAME TIME? What more could you want?
Logos, Banners and Artwork. Some people like to see other artwork on top of screen shots, such as initial artwork. Make it available.
Demo link. Never make a journalist pay for your game, and always give them access to the full version wherever possible.
Past coverage. Show examples of the kind of things other people have said about your game.
The Press Release
The press release is designed to tell the press (duh) about your game. It’s likely the most important part of your press kit. Specifically it is meant to convey a main new story. For most people that story is the launch of your game – but remember that 100s of other games are releasing this week, why is your game different? Another new game in itself is not NEWS. You also need to know what action you want from reader of the press release. Do you want to get interviewed, get people playing your demo or pre-ordering? Decide what the most important thing is to you before you write your press release.
First impressions are important, and emails are no different. Make sure you have an attention grabbing subject line. I’ve lost count of how many emails I delete without reading based purely on the subject line.
The body of your press release should be written as if a journalist has written it. If possible it should be able to copy and paste the press release into an article and look like an actual news story. Many journalists won’t actually do this, but if the copy already looks like a news article then they’ll be more inclined to cover your game.
Start with the location and date in capital letters, then try to give the elevator pitch for your game. Explain in as few words as possible, ideally less than fifty, what your game is, what it does and who it’s for. Keep it short and punchy.
In the next paragraph you can expand a little on this, give a handful of features that separates your game from the countless others out there. Why should people play your game?
Reinforce this with a quote from you. Make it a good sound bite, one that adds a personal touch to the press release but also conveys a little extra information.
Always end your press release with a good call to action. Explain where they can play a demo of the game, or get in contact for an interview.
What to send to the journalist
My preference is always to send the press release on its own in the body of the email, and link to the other elements of your press kit. Two reasons for this: Journalists’ time is scarce – don’t waste it with lengthy emails, and I never click on attachments in emails from people I don’t know, I wouldn’t expect journalists to either.
Start with a brief introduction, and the paste in the release below. If they want more information they should be able to find the other elements from your press kit from links in your email. You could even house them on a special part of your site called a press centre.
The follow up
Creating and sending your press kit is a big hurdle, one that a lot of indie game developers won’t get past, but it’s not enough to just send out your press kits and hope someone covers your game. Next is the all important follow up. Not only is it a great way to give a gentle reminder about your game, but it provides the perfect opportunity for them to ask any questions they may have. It also is a great way to get feedback about your game and your press kit. If they don’t think it’s worthy of a story, you can (politely) ask why and you will hopefully get an insight into what to improve on for next time. Finally, PR is all about connections, who you know. Making sure you follow up and build relationships with journalists is a great way to help ensure you get coverage for your future games.
The Press Centre
Press Kits can be used in two ways. Firstly they can be sent to journalists who you think may be interested in your game. They can also be housed on your site to allow any interested journalists to quickly and easily find out all the information they might need to write up an article about you. A good example of this outside the games industry is coca cola, who have a press centre micro site designed to share all the important facts and news about Coca Cola with anyone who might be interested. Remember, the key is to make journalists’ lives easier. If they have to scour your site for details, email you, wait for replies chance are, unless you have the hottest game in the world, they’ll probably look elsewhere for their story.
So there you have it. Everything you need to create a press kit for your indie game. If you have any questions, let us know in the comments. If you’ve created your own press kit, let us know how you got on. And if you found this post useful, check out our article with 12 tips for talking to the press about your indie game.