Alright! First things first, I consider this to be a kind of crowd-sourced effort. That means: if you disagree with me, or if you have anything to add, just leave a comment here and the site will be changed accordingly. This can only get better the more people participate, so I’m kinda counting on you guys here. Let’s go!
I get a lot of press releases, and while most of them get the job done, there are a few that fail at the most basic of things. If I have no idea which game you’re talking about after reading half of the email, you failed. If I don’t know how to contact you, you failed. If you fail to make any lasting impression… well, you know.
So here’s a list of things you should probably put into that press release of yours. Please note that this is just one way to do it. Furthermore, it serves the very specific purpose of telling press people about your already or soon-to-be released game. If you want to drum up some initial interest, announce a new project, or kindly ask for a preview, this should probably be put differently. Oh, and this goes without saying: this is not a template that you should just copy and paste. Modify it as much as you like. Make it personal, make it yours.
Email Header: Something catchy here. Don’t forget to mention your game’s name. Do not just write “Check out my new indie game.”
Got a cool logo? You could put it at the start of the email, but don’t make it too big. Makes the whole thing look better than just a wall of text. Generally, pictures or animated gifs work pretty well, as long as you don’t overdo it.
Address: if possible, make it personal. Editors, writers, and website guys like to feel special – if you start your email with proof that you took the time to look up my name, we can be friends! Seriously: if your email starts with “dear sir/madam” or “hey editor”, that’s not a good start. Besides, I seem to reply a lot more often to emails with a personal address.
Introduction: hey, who are you, anyway? If you feel like I should know, tell me. Maybe you worked on some other games before? Maybe yours is an interesting story worth telling? Can also be moved to the end of your email, see comments below.
Elevator pitch: this is the main body of the email. What’s your game all about? Consider not using too many buzzwords here. Instead, try to highlight the features which make your game special and worth writing about. Also, keep it snappy. No need to write a whole novel. How To Explain Your Game To An Asshole by Tom Francis is essential reading!
Acclaim: only include acclaim from notable sources. If some unknown blogger dude has praised your game, that’s nice, but it’s the equivalent of your mum giving you a high five.
Materials: this should include links to a trailer, a demo version, screenshots, and your press kit. Some people prefer to include screenshots and press kit as an email attachment, I prefer links. Rami Ismail’s presskit() is an elegant and relatively simple way to put all necessary materials on one page. You should give it a try.
Availability: Where can I buy your game? And for which platforms? Links to the main distributors are quite helpful.
Review Copy: Giving a copy away with the press release? It certainly reduces the back-and-forth and gives the writers direct access to your game. This would be the place to put it!
Invitation to follow up: “If you’re interested in doing an interview with me or want to do a giveaway of the game, just get in touch. Thanks!” …or something like that. Wrap it up.
Complete Contact Details: your name, website, email address, and Twitter handle (if available).
Thanks a ton to everyone who contributed!