First and foremost, keep it short, with 5 paragraphs at most in the body of release. A press release should never exceed a single page in length.
Another important thing to remember, particularly from an indie standpoint, is the style of wording you use to compose the release. Try to show your excitement for the game in your writing, but keep it casual, personal and humorous (if you can). Avoid dry, corporate sounding text, which can be a big turn off for the press. You are an indie developer, not CEO of a multi-national! Don’t be too worried if you can’t convey humour well in writing; excitement and enthusiasm for your game can be all you need.
A good press release needs a good headline
Editors are usually swamped by emails and press releases, so they are far more likely to open an email with a headline that grabs them. An effective headline is your main chance to get an editor’s attention.
Famed copywriter and ad man David Ogilvy once said, “On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
Keep it short
Aim to bring your headlines in to under 70 characters, and try and include at least one keyword. A great headline can be spoken in one breath.
Watch your tenses
Effective headlines usually involve active voice and strong present-tense verbs. You can also use future-tense when the headline describes future events.
Use ordinary language
No complex words or jargon phrases, you are appealing to the person in the street and they need to understand what you are saying. Vivid, simple language grabs attention.
Press release headlines should be written in Title Case. When using title case, do not use capital letters for prepositions (such as in, on, at, of, for) unless one is the first word.
A sub-heading is optional, and is meant to encourage the reader to read the press release further. The press release headline, subheading, and first paragraphs should mimic each other. To summarise; the first paragraph is an extension of the subheading, which is a more verbose way of stating the headline.
This paragraph should tell the journalist and reader what the press release is about. There is a good chance that a game writer would skip over your press release if the information you present in this paragraph is not interesting and concise.
The first paragraph (two to three sentences) should sum up the press release, and the additional content must elaborate it. Your headline and first paragraph should be written so that they standalone, i.e. if they are the only parts of the press release quoted, the release still makes sense.
Here you can add detailed information about your game in order to support the first paragraph. Focus on the game’s key features, unique selling points, game story and the inspiration for the game. Avoid dull techie phrases such as high-polygon, real-time rendered, physics-based; instead emphasise what makes the game fun to play.
Last paragraph Call-to-Action
Sum up your game or story and go straight to the point of the press release.
“The Early Access version of YourGame is now available on Steam.
Download now from http://store.steampowered.com/yourgame”
Provide links to the game/assets here such as review codes or links to download the app, screenshots, videos, company or game website, Facebook page, Twitter account. Check out this ‘Press Kit’ post for more details.
About your Studio
The final paragraph should describe your company. You can also mention any relevant awards you have won and other key games you have released.
Media Contact information
Include your contact information; such as first and last name, email address, telephone number, LinkedIn address, and any other relevant contacts. A Skype number can be a good idea, as international phone calls can be expensive.
Make sure you emphasise that you welcome questions, interviews and such; let the press know that you are accessible.
Important Points to Remember
Excessive CAPS, exclamation points, or typos will ruin your credibility. Proof read, spell check, then proof read again. Silly mistakes will kill your press release.
You are writing for journalists
Press releases are not intended for consumers; they are for journalists who will often use them as a starting point for a piece. Avoid using promotional or marketing language; journos HATE sales type releases.
Why should anyone care?
Make sure your press release is news worthy; focus on the elements of your release that make it stand out as something new and noteworthy. The human touch can be a good angle; an interesting team story or company milestone achievement could really help to get more interest.
Targeted pitching can be more effective than PR ‘blasts’
If possible identify who might be interested in your particular style of game, check the sort of games they cover and have reviewed most highly. Try and make the release intro personal to them and their site, introducing them to the game and try to get them interested. If they like your game they could become an evangelist for your game amongst the media, which is a fantastic thing as it really helps to boost your visibility.