When contacting the media, it’s important to determine what type of PR outreach is most relevant for what you’re trying to accomplish so you can choose the best way to reach out. Several ways to offer information to your contacts include email pitches, press releases, media alerts, and direct messages. This article will review the main types of PR outreach and discuss how to determine which one will help you reach your goals.
Types of PR Outreach
Your first step is to figure out what information you want to share with your audience, which will help you determine the most effective way to reach out to your contacts. Here are three main types of PR outreach.
A story pitch is when you suggest an idea for a feature story and share persuasive content to help support the creation of that story.
An example would be:
Client XYZ has just hired a new software development lead. XYZ has traditionally used third-party solutions but is now looking to build its own software and potentially market them to external customers. Would you be interested in talking with them about this new direction, what it means to the company, and how it might change the marketplace?
Story pitches are one of the major types of PR outreach and an essential part of getting publicity for a video game. We covered them extensively in the past, so for more help, check out our guide, How to Craft a Killer Video Game PR Pitch Strategy.
A press release is a formal document traditionally used to announce major company milestones. Press releases report new products, companies, and new hires. As such, they are one of the types of PR outreach best suited for news items of more permanence, especially milestones.
When creating a press release, there’s a generally accepted format for style and tone. We shared some of the best tips in our article 8 Key Elements to Consider for Writing the Perfect Press Release.
A media alert is less formal than a press release and is typically used to convey recent news or an update from a company or a product. Media alerts are a sort of “filler” material between major announcements.
For example, a video game press release may unveil a new game and its release on various platforms. Meanwhile, media alerts are used between those press releases to announce new features, distribute trailers, and remind the media of the game’s release date.
Methods for PR Outreach
Now that you’ve determined what type of PR outreach you need (press release, media alert, or pitch), you must decide how to distribute it. There are two main methods for PR outreach—email and direct/instant message.
Choosing a distribution channel is straightforward. Emails are best for press releases and media alerts, while you can send story pitches via email or direct messaging/instant messages.
Here’s what you should consider for each format.
Email is how most PR teams send press releases, media alerts, and story pitches. It allows you to include plenty of information in a common format. When sending an email, be sure to consider both the subject line and the body content.
The longer the subject line, the more likely it is to get truncated (aka “chopped off”) by the recipient’s email client. So, keep it under 140 characters and front-load the subject line with the important information.
Here’s an example of a weak subject line:
A Glorious New Fighter Enters the Battle Arena as American Game Developer ShedGame1Z Announces New Martial Fighting Game — Fight Fighters EX — for PlayStation, Xbox, and PC
The problem is that this subject line doesn’t get to the point until the second half of the subject line. The way the first half is worded, this could be about a fighting game, a shooter, a space combat game, or not even a game! There’s too much vague info at the start, while the important news—that it’s a multiplatform martial arts style fighting game—is buried at the end.
Also, the subject line is so long that it is guaranteed to get truncated somewhere around “Developer.” Thus, editors won’t see the important info (type of game, game name, studio, and platforms) in the subject line. It’s unlikely that anyone will be interested in an email with the subject line “A Glorious New Fighter Enters the Battle Arena as American Game Developer (truncated).”
Here’s an example of how to make the same subject line stronger and more effective:
High-Octane Martial Arts Combat Returns in Fight Fighters EX — Coming to PlayStation, Xbox, and PC
First and foremost, this subject line works better because the important information is at the beginning. The game’s genre and name are front-loaded to grab the reader’s attention. Now that the reader is interested, they see from the second half of the subject about the game’s release and platforms.
Also, this subject line does away with the unnecessary text (the name and nationality of the developer). Unless you’ve already delivered at least one popular game or product, there’s no need to include your company name in the subject. That information is much better suited for the sub-heading inside the release itself.
Lastly, the subject line is short enough that the majority, if not all, of it will be shown in an email application.
Check out this HubSpot article for more tips on writing good email subject lines.
The saying ‘keep it simple’ applies when sending an email to the media. Try to sum up everything in the introductory paragraph, and let the reader decide for themselves if that info is compelling enough for them to keep reading.
If you’re sending a press release via email, include a short introductory message that sums up the key details of the full press release. That way, the recipient can quickly determine whether the topic interests them. It’s also good to include why you think this would interest them.
Media alerts are informal, so the corresponding email should be short and to the point. You don’t need an introductory paragraph; you can lead in with your content.
If you’re emailing a pitch, you should also keep it to the point. Tell the reader what you’d like them to write a story about and why it’s worth them taking the time to do so.
Direct messages are good when you need to ask a quick question, follow up on a pitch, or send a short bit of info via Discord, SMS/Text, Whatsapp, Twitter DMs, or another platform. There are two important considerations when using DMs: permission and length.
First, ensure you have permission to message the recipient. Don’t look up an editor’s contact info and start DM’ing them. Be sure to check with them when you first find their info to see if it’s ok to DM them short messages.
Secondly, keep your direct messages extremely short, and pare them down with almost brutal efficiency. DM’s are meant to be quick and to the point. Don’t send more than 1-2 sentences explaining what info you are offering. You don’t need to give paragraphs of background information, links to other stories, etc. Just directly say what you’re offering them.
Here’s an example of an effective DM:
Would you like to hear more about product XYZ from creator ABC that we announced today? It’s like his other product, but it has several new features I think you’d be interested in.
This direct message works because it is short and to the point. If you find you need more than 1-2 sentences to convey what you need to say, it is better to send an email.
Types of PR Outreach and Your Overall Marketing Strategy
When you’re planning to contact the media, you need to understand the various types of PR outreach. To select the best one, decide how you want to present the information (press release, media alert, or pitch) and what method you’ll use (email or DM). Across all types of PR outreach, you should always be concise, relevant, and respectful of the other person’s time.
PR outreach is an important part of getting publicity for your video game. However, it’s only one piece of your overall video game marketing strategy. If you’re feeling overwhelmed—or simply know that your time is best spent elsewhere—help is available. Here at UberStrategist, we specialize in high-quality publicity, promotions, and partnerships for our clients. You can learn more about our work here, and when you’re ready, reach out to us at moc.t1660591926siget1660591926artsr1660591926ebu@s1660591926elas1660591926.