Previously on this blog, I’ve provided some handy hints for iOS developers regarding boosting your chances of getting a review in Tap! magazine, and for creating press pages for your app or game. In the first of those articles, I offer the following tip:

Let me know about your game. Email me or get in touch on Twitter. If I know about your game, there’s obviously more chance of it getting coverage.

These days, I get a lot of press releases, and about half of them are doing it wrong. So, here’s what you should be doing when you send out a press release:

  1. Use the email’s text body. If your press release is mostly text-oriented, use the email itself to provide the text. This text remains searchable, and so when I later remember your product and want to check it out, I can easily search for your press release in my email client.
  2. Get to the point. I’m fine with friendly, amusing language and a sense of fun in your text. I’m not fine with you waffling on for ages and not making it obvious what you’re talking about. You’ve made a game, so now imagine selling it to me in one minute. That’s pretty easy. Now do it in ten seconds. Tougher, but possible. Once you’ve done that, you should have the basis for your press release’s text. Note that this should include, right at the start, why I should play your game and what your game is about.
  3. Don’t try to hide. You’d be surprised how many press releases I read where I’m none the wiser afterwards about how the game actually works or what it does. The text tries to disguise a derivative mechanic, but here’s a secret: a derivative game is not necessarily a bad thing, if what you’ve created is great. Some games I’ve rated very highly in Tap! include: Space Junk (Asteroids), Monsters Ate My Condo (deranged Jenga), All-Stars Racing (kart-racing), Contre Jour (more or less Cut the Rope). Don’t get me wrong: innovation is a good thing. But a derivative game isn’t necessarily bad, and it can even be a hook used to gain interest.
  4. Don’t lie. There’s a fine line between positive copywriting and outright bullshit. You need to ensure you do not cross that line. I’ve had several press releases lately that have outright fictions in them, designed to make the game in question look better or be reviewed more favourably. In all cases, brief research via a search engine enabled me to find the facts behind the claims, which contradicted what I was initially told. And even positive copywriting needs to take care. Send me a press release claiming you’ve made the “best match-three game ever” and you’d better be bloody sure your game is amazing—as in ‘Zookeeper amazing’—because if it isn’t, why am I going to believe anything else you say? But while ‘best’ is almost impossible to prove, there’s nothing wrong with positive descriptive terms instead: addictive; engaging; exciting; great; terrific.
  5. Do not use text attachments. If you send me a Word document which is just text, you’re wasting my time. I get dozens of press releases every day. Wasting my time does not go down well. If you send me a link to a Word document, you’re wasting even more of my time. I was today also asked on Twitter if sending a link to a Google doc is OK. No. If you want me to read something, put it in front of me now, or I will just move on to the next of the dozens of emails I need to get through.
  6. Minimise other attachments. It’s increasingly common for emails about iOS games to be extraordinarily weighty. I’m happy to receive some attachments, such as a couple of screen grabs, but keep it light. Don’t provide me, as one PR recently did, with over 10 MB of grabs and an attached video. A couple of grabs that show off your app in its best light (i.e. not Game Center shots, the title screen, or options) is what you want to be sending.
  7. Don’t make me jump through hoops. An email from ‘no-reply@’ with no other way to contact you means you’re making my life harder. An email where (and this happened recently) you say I can get promo codes, but only after I spend ten minutes signing up to your PR website that then takes 24 hours to acknowledge I even exist… well, that means you probably won’t get coverage at all. If you want your game covered, contact me, but also make it extremely easy to contact you.
  8. Where possible, provide a video link. This is a new one, and something I’ll talk about in a later post, but gameplay videos can be an effective way to convince me to check out a game for possible (and even probable) coverage after your initial email has grabbed my attention. Sadly, a large proportion of iOS gameplay videos are utterly dreadful, and so my next ‘helpful hints’ post will provide ways to address this.