Comment & Opinion

PR activity that indies can do for themselves

PR activity that indies can do for themselves

Jacki Vause is CEO at PR and marketing agency Dimoso, which specialises in mobile games and the technology and platforms behind them.

As everyone knows, creating a real marketing impact for an indie game is a challenge.

The world of mobile games is crowded, discovery is a nightmare and the big boys have deep pockets that allow them to extensively test and run expensive campaigns, employ sophisticated technicians and invest in all the latest analytics and attribution tracking technologies, giving them an immediate advantage over the bootstrapping indie.

Finding an audience

There are currently 2,950,259 apps and games available on iOS at the time of writing.

And that’s just one mobile platform: there are thousands more triple-A and indie releases on mobile, console and PC every month, all looking for players from a similar audience pool and relying on media coverage in the same places.

It’s a daunting task to think about where you can carve out an audience.

For indies, where budgets are minimal and resources for marketing are limited, publishers need to consider how to release a game and give it the best chance of success.

PR is certainly one tactic they should consider. However, it can’t be seen as the Holy Grail.

It has to be part of a holistic marketing mix which starts with communications in the game itself, spreads through the tools you use to track and optimise and ends with any user acquisition campaign you design.

PR runs through all of these activities, complementing and bolstering them. It also helps you raise your head above the parapet where all your Indie competitors are battling it out.

One of the great things about PR is that for a small investment of time and money, it has the chance to blow up and grab some major interest.

One of the great things about PR is that for a small investment of time and money, it has the chance to grab some major interest.

PR is not as data dependent or formulaic as other marketing tools, but it does deliver results. It could give you that explosion of interest you really need.

The team at Dimoso specialise in mobile games PR which is where many indies operate. We have years of experience and employ some of the best PR professionals working in the games industry.

We have worked with many different developers and publishers - from industry giants to unknown startups and have experienced what works and what does not.

We’ve created some advice how to get the most from PR while working with the limitations and opportunities that come with being an indie.

This information is not a comprehensive strategy, every project is unique. We wanted to draw out a few key points that matter to us and could help indie publishers use PR to successfully release their titles.

Your game

If it’s not great give up. Harsh but fair.

We have turned down representing 90% of the games that come our way because they are simply not good enough. We have seen the Developer relations guys at the app stores tear their hair out when their advice is ignored or simply not taken as publishers rush their games to market.

Get it right. From the start. Make the game GOOD. Really good. Test test test. Take as much advice as you can. No amount of money will make a bad game good. FACT.

Create a strategy

As an indie with a good game you will want to get you game out there and monetising as quickly as possible, but create your strategy before you do.

Have the PR materials ready, anticipate what press are going to ask for, create a list of marketing milestones. Brainstorm a few PR stunts and feature ideas to activate around release date. Have it all nicely placed in a schedule, you do not want to miss a single opportunity.

Company and employee profiles

Define who you are and what you do. If you want to fit into a press agenda, you need to be able to quickly and succinctly say ‘we do this and our game is’. You can do this by creating ready made profiles.

If your company has an unusual history or unique position, tell people about it. If your employees previously worked at impressive companies or on revolutionary products, this makes you interesting. Use these profiles to create news value, reasons why people will want to talk about you.

The press release

We are not great fans of blanket press releases at Dimoso as they fill journalists' inboxes and are not often read.

If your company has an unusual history or unique position, tell people about it.

You are better off with a communication that is more of a media alert and if it is written well it can be a useful tool. It needs to be succinct and it needs to be targeted.

Please don’t send press releases/media alerts about a new game to Tech Crunch or the FT - you will just annoy them.

What has changed is how you use these communications and how you distribute them. It’s a chance to gather all the information in one place. You have got to sell your game and this is your pre-made pitch with materials. Take time to see which individuals write about and review games like yours.

A blanket email will get you nothing. Make personal approaches with your information acknowledging what they have written before and giving them the reasons why they should take the time out of their busy day to play your game and write about it if you are lucky.

Boost your company profile

A lot of mobile games PR is about building reputation within the industry. Mobile games producers need to impress investors, shareholders, potential partners and distribution platforms as well as player.

You are a lot more likely to gain a strong network of partners if you are visible in the industry and creating thought leadership on platforms that people want to hear. You have to really believe your brand and stand up for it. Make comments and draft interesting articles. Work with high profile partners and secure speaking opportunities at events.

Make friends in the press and network

Reach out to people; tell them about yourself and your product. Research people operating in the same area as you, see what they write about, make sure you are the right fit and approach them. Consider what people are talking about in the media or at events and where you fit in that dialogue.

Media monitoring

By using online alerts you can monitor who is talking about indie games topics and news. Monitor who is talking about similar titles, keep an eye out for hot topics in the media.

Reach out to the authors and comment online on the pieces and include in your own blogs or social media posts.

Attend events

Get yourself out there and meet people. Know your elevator pitch and interact with your peers. Get yourself to gaming events and absorb knowledge from other professionals. Make friends at the events and stay in touch.

Events do not have to be gaming specific, but think about business, tech and startups, you may meet a useful mentor or collaborator.

Create content that encourages discussion

From the moment you start to build your concept think of PR, ask yourself what is unique and why will people find this game interesting. Can you put PR into your concept, is your shooter the same as many others, what can you do differently?

From the moment you start to build your concept think of PR, ask yourself what is unique and why will people find this game interesting.

Draw out the unique aspects of your games and make them selling points. Highlight elements from your game and get them into the real world.

Even place things in the game deliberately during conception or an update, create a PR angle. What’s a hot topic in the news, what celebrities make the headlines, can these things be included?

Get Creative with PR ideas

Be inventive and think of crazy ways for people to see your game. This area of PR is the most fun, going a bit mad and getting something out there can grab attention. But be careful as it can backfire done badly. Search online for inspiration.

For example: Got a bow and arrow game? Do a video at the local archery club. Got a car game: Then get on the track.

Incorporate things that people enjoy and get them in your game, look at the seasons and popular global events, make sure your content is a reflection.

Use social media

The challenge for indies is to grow fans in the first place. Make sure to regularly update social media and interact with the games industry. Write a company blog. Research where your potential fans are operating.

Some of the less established platforms are more accessible for low budget or unpaid opportunities. Use the channels that appeal to you, your audience and product.

Combine with paid

PR is most effective when paired with paid options. If you have the budget then combined marketing is the recipe for success. Look into mobile advertising platforms, chart boosts and paid placements

These guaranteed placements, if strategised correctly, will massively impact the success of your PR campaign.

Keep going

PR is most effective when paired with paid options. If you have the budget then combined marketing is the recipe for success.

Once the game is out there and being played get ready for that first update. Listen to user feedback and monitor your social channels for comments. Implement and address what people are saying.

People that take the time to play and comment are doing you a great service, though sometimes negative, this is what you will need to address.

Conclusion

It’s all about small margins for indies. Get one hit, get up one place, make one connection. Be pleased with your results and concentrate on making sure you are getting steady progress. The best results are the small victories that are done well.

Planning and execution are essential to PR. Make sure you do all you can to get things right and be brave. Combine as many elements as you possibly can and get friends to help. Get out in the field and meet people, tell them about your amazing games and stay positive.


This was part of the MGU course Mobile Games University: Indie Marketing 101. For more articles in this course click here.

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