In the previous weeks, I’ve talked about contacting the press and the difference between the influence journalists and Youtubers have. This time, to expand on contacting these people, I am going to talk about presskits.
Let’s start with defining a presskit. Once we know what it is, we can start thinking about how to assemble one. Usually, a presskit is a collection of promotional materials which is distributed to the media for promotional use. Presskits are usually used to announce events such as product or company launches, news conferences or mergers between companies.
Most of this is probably not relevant to an indie game developer. You’ll most likely be sending out presskits with the intent of asking the press to write about your game. So if a presskit is a collection of promotional items to announce your game, what exactly do those promotional materials constitute?
In my experience, these are usually images, videos and playable dem’s. It depends a lot on what stage of production you’re in and on what you’re willing to share, but those three components usually make up a presskit. The exact contents of those imgaes, videos and demo’s is mostly up to you, but there are some guidelines to follow that will help you assemble a good presskit.
I’ve talked about it earlier, but a good rule of thumb is to give the press what you want them to write about. For example, if your game’s main hook is the beautiful graphics, images and video will probably do the trick, but if your game features some sort of innovative new gameplay element, you might have to send them a tech demo too. The press are going to report on what they’ve seen, and not necessarily on what you tell them, so it’s important to include promotional items that say what you want to say.
You can just bundle all those items up in a winrar file and send it off, but there is another way. You can also make an extra page on your website with a general presskit. It has some promotional images, it can have a video and even an in-browser playable demo. If you design it in the same style as the rest of your website it gives of a strong feeling of a professional-looking presskit and those feelings generally tend to carry over to the game as well.
There are advantages and disadvantages to everything though. If you bundle everything in a winrar file and send it over WeTransfer, it may come off as disorganised, and a tad unprofessional. The upside is, that you can tailor every presskit to it’s recipient. If you can personalise your presskits in the same way as your messages, that’s a good step to get noticed by the press! A presskit page on your website will often times look more professional, but since it’s standardised, it’s easy to make it lack personality.
Personally, I think a good middle-ground is presskit(). It’s a tool made by Rami Ismail and I’ve seen it used by a lot of indie gaming companies. It’s very easy to customise and install it as a page on your website, and to update the information as development goes along. The only thing I feel it tends to miss is personality. You can add images and videos, you can add your own descriptions and headers, but everything is on a white background and all text in standard black.
If you have the time and skills, I would recommend you make images with screenshots in them and some explanatory text. Basically what you would see on the back of the box of a videogame really. These are easy to make unique and personal, but they also offer the information you want the press to write about. You’ll still want to include the individual image files of course, but you can stash them in a separate folder within your presskit, making it look nicely organised. This is what I always found to be the most effective type of presskit.
Of course not everyone has the time or skills to do that. In the end, what matters is that you give the press something to write about, be it trailers, screenshots or demos. The press is rather notorious for twisting words and editing reports to make it seem like people are saying things they didn’t really say that way. Images don’t lie however, and this is what makes a presskit important. A good presskit allows you to say what you want to say without being misinterpreted or misrepresented.