Getting Journalists to Cover Your Game
Getting journalists to cover your game
Want journalists to cover your game or startup? Sweet! Here’s a framework for thinking about coverage you might find to be useful, along with some tips to help optimise your chances of success along the way.
First up, I’m not going to tell you how to write your email. There are many resources to look at for that, and any formula I provide will potentially make your pitch formulaic — the last thing you want. I want you to think about WHY a journalist would cover something.
To get journalists to cover you, you need to understand what they want, and the business model for contemporary journalism. This is probably the most important reframing you can possibly do, and if you read nothing else about PR, please read this.
The Most Important Thing to Understand
Most games journalists want to cover awesome, interesting games with unique stories behind them. Many want to be the one to unearth something special and put it in front of an audience who’ll like it.
Many are fascinated by the process of making games, starting companies, the decisions and passion that go into them — the how’s and the why’s. Some journalists love community, focus on PC, or prefer to focus on YouTube content.
All journalists are different and have different interests. They like different games, different stories, different genres. And that’s awesome! It means there are plenty of people who could potentially be interested in you and what you’re creating.
The thing all journalists have in common? They need people to read their stories, to get those sweet sweet clicks that drive the ad revenue allowing them to subsist. The journalism industry is ad-driven. News outlets need views to survive.
Every time someone views a story on a news website, that website gets a tiny payment. Many views = higher revenues. It’s a very simple model, but an important one for us as creators, founders and developers to understand.
Regardless of everything else, the driving business model behind games journalism — advertising — is a constant. So when you’re thinking of what stories to pitch (and you DO need a story), think about what will get them the most views.
Understanding the core business model for games journalism is SUPER IMPORTANT. It’s a vital framework for thinking about PR. Never forget it. Sleep with it written on a scrap of paper under your pillow every night.
Helping Journalists Cover Your Game
Journalists are very time-poor people. As a journalist, the amount of time you get to do your work is extremely limited, and even if you really love a particular game or story, if a proper pitch and enough detail aren’t provided… it’s not happening.
As someone trying to get journalists to cover you, your job is to make their life as simple as possible. Do not provide them with just a build of your game and a brief explanation. Give them some angles to write from. What’s unique? Special?
You need to very clearly understand what makes your story/game/product/whatever different from everything around it, and you need to articulate that clearly, and early.
Think about it from their audience’s point of view: What does their audience want to read? You have to come up with a pitch for a story that will appeal to them, and generate the maximum amount of interest.
To do this you need to KNOW their audience. What kind of audience does this outlet have? Who are they aiming at? Is it the kind of audience you’re trying to reach? Are they interested in your type of product/game/story? If yes, proceed!
Most pitches should be specific to a particular outlet. Yes, this means often you need to pitch different stories to different outlets. YES, this takes a lot of time. There’s a reason PR is a profession — this shit takes time and experience!
Hire a PR professional. Talk to someone like Lumi Consulting, Future Friends Games, Stride PR or get some recommendations from friends. You want someone with experience (and preferably located) in the region you’re trying to reach. One size does not fit all here.
If you don’t have budget for a PR professional, that’s fine! Just be aware that this is going to take a lot of your time, but is important and worthwhile. Budget for that time.
Understanding What to Pitch
A lot of PR is research and staying on top of who covers what. Start a spreadsheet. Research and write down all of the outlets that cover games like yours. Who at those publication covers those games? Why? What are the common threads?
Do they not cover games like yours? Why? There’s likely a good reason. If you’re going to get coverage, you need to understand why others didn’t.
If they do cover games like yours, think about why. What do you think the successful pitches looked like? Spend time analyzing. It’ll help in the long run.
Each writer likes different things, so be specific in your pitch. Pitch TO a specific person if you can. Create a story that they’ll be interested in, that will ALSO appeal to their audience. Remember, you’re trying to help them get views/clicks.
How do you get someone’s contact info? Sometimes their Twitter profile, sometimes their website, sometimes the outlet will have a contact email.
A big part of PR is understanding what’s interesting to audiences, empathising with journalists and being aware of the media landscape. It takes a lot of time, and it should! Your pitch is one of hundreds. Spend time to stand out.
Keep the basic pitch short and sweet, get to the meat of what you’re pitching quickly. THEN provide detail. You want to provide enough information for them to extrapolate a story from, without needing to go too far elsewhere. Give them all they need.
This usually includes a press kit, with information about you, your product/game, its evolution, and any visual/textual additions. Logos, screenshots, videos are all very important here. I’d recommend Presskit(). http://dopresskit.com/
Journalists are people. Treat them like that, and have respect for their time. If they don’t respond, DO NOT harass them. It’s not their job to respond to every email. If you haven’t hooked them with your title or content, that’s not their fault.
If a journalist covers your game/product pre-release, make sure to follow up WHEN you release and offer them a preview copy. If they covered it in the first place, they likely want to cover the final product!
Once you’re starting to get coverage, make sure you track it properly. Create Google Alerts with specific terms. Use PromoterApp. Also, create your own spreadsheet using those two systems as a basis, and be detailed. Why did they cover you? What did you learn?
Even if someone in the press retweets you or gets in touch to talk about your work/project in some fashion, KEEP A RECORD. Spreadsheets for days, please. Super important. Track. Everything. It will make your life 110% better come release.
1) The business model for journalism is based on ads and views. Frame your job as helping journalists get views.
2) Individually tailored pitches are the best pitches.
2) Be respectful, be human, and be concise. Appreciate that journalists have zero time.
Thanks for reading! I hope this was helpful. Big thanks to @Sumaleth, @realfakeemily, @jamiemgalea and @PrinceOfJunes for feedback and proofreading!
The original Twitter thread for this article is available here: