Indigo Pearl, the games industry’s multi award-winning PR agency, has been running as an independent since 1999. Here, Caroline Miller, Founder & Director, gives us an insight into how indies can do their own PR without hiring an agency, and introduces DXN, the game key distribution service it’s developed to help developers get that all-important discoverability.
As a company, Indigo Pearl has evolved and grown alongside - and risen up to meet - the challenges of the games industry’s ever-changing technological needs, and the PR industry’s fierce and fragmented landscape. We were there at the start of the indie scene and, being an indie ourselves, it’s massively important to us to show our support to indies and small start-ups.
Indie devs share our core values of freedom, liberty, self-reliance, objectivity, open-mindedness and individualism. We’re proud to have worked with Devolver Digital since before the launch of Hotline Miami, we helped promote EGX Rezzed year-on-year, and have worked with other truly brilliant indie talent over the years including Mike Bithell, Introversion Software and Milky Tea.
The early indie games community has paved the way for a whole generation - actually, generations - of games developers to stake a claim in their own indie island.
We understand that many indies, at least when starting out, don’t have the budget needed to hire a PR agency and that most of their time is spent perfecting their game before taking that brave step of unleashing it for all the world to see – and comment on. Everyone knows discoverability and quality are the two most important aspects of a game and its launch. While we can’t help with the quality aspect (we know you have that covered), we can help with discoverability.
Together with some indie developer friends we’ve put together a list of seven tips for PRing-it-alone.
1. Embrace Your USP
Every indie game and indie developer has its own story to tell and it’s this story that will set you and your game apart from the crowd. Being authentic is one of the privileges of being an indie so let your unique story shine and people will want to know more. No one can talk about your game like you can because no one knows the games like you do, so get ready to relish the opportunity to show off your creation.
2. Get Social
Chances are if you’re an indie dev you’ll already have your own Twitter channel and will be keeping a close eye on the indie scene and gaming in general. The best way to grow an authentic audience is to involve yourself in the conversation. Give comment on key topics affecting the industry, offer expert insight, comment on and retweet peers and media outlets, reveal exclusives, be funny, but above all, always be nice. People will always want to do business with the good guys and Twitter can be your best friend and your worst enemy. Go make a cup of tea if something’s bothering you.
3. Don’t Reinvent The Wheel
You will very quickly get to realise the media outlets that are covering indie news, and the journalists and social media influencers who champion indie games and developers. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so no need to reinvent the wheel – you’ve already done that with your game.
4. Start A Database
PR agencies have databases of 1,000s of journalists but even the biggest campaigns can start off small. We will always recommend quality over quantity so once you’ve identified the media that would be interested in your story, aim to get a database of 10-20 key journalists that will act as influencers and help spread the word for you. It’s better to have strong relationships with five media outlets than 100s of strangers’ email addresses. Talking of email addresses, Email Hunter is a great tool for finding people’s contact details.
5. Promote Key Milestones
Every marketing campaign and game development timeline will have key moments when something big happens. Whether it’s a Kickstarter campaign announcement, some new screenshots, a soft launch, or an update, plan your PR campaign way in advance so you have time to identify where you’d like your story to appear. Give yourself some achievable goals and don’t get distracted.
6. Give The Press What They Want
If you had a game sale for every email that a journalist receives then you’d likely be a millionaire. Cut above the inbox clutter with a short and straight email clearly outlining the story you’re pitching. Make their job as easy as possible by only sending your best assets – don’t send ten screenshots when three will do the job.
DXN (DigitalXtra.net) is Indigo Pearl’s latest proprietary tech tool and focuses on the massively time-consuming job of distributing games codes. Digital game codes have revolutionised the industry, especially breaking down publishing barriers for indies, but it has taken a few years for the industry to establish how best to get the codes from a spreadsheet to the media.
We developed our DXN code distribution service following extensive research asking what the games makers and games media wanted. We work with some of the majors global publishers to distribute all of their game codes to media and influencers, but equally, we also work with many indies who want to tap into our own PR media database to get their game out as far and wide as possible. It’s another one of our standalone services that we offer to indies that don’t have the capacity to hire an agency.
7. Get Tooled Up
Use any tool that makes your life easier. Help plan and monitor your social media posts using apps such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, and drill down into who’s chatting about what using Tweetreach. To help find your vlogger influencers look at YouTube search, Gamoloco and Steamspy. Use News Now and Google News Alerts to check coverage and services such as Coverage Book to make the most of your hard work.
However you choose to PR your game, there is always help out there and we’re especially happy to offer advice on any aspect of your in-house PR campaign.
DXN / Indigo Pearl