A Press Release Template Perfect for the Indie Game Developer

A Press Release Template Perfect for the Indie Game Developer

If you’ve never written a press release before, finding a press release template is a great place to start. Just like schematics instruct engineers, a good press release template will instruct you to execute a solid press release. Below is such a press release template, but tailored to fit the needs of indie game developers.

press release template

Press Release Template Elements

  1. Headline
    Your headline (and sub headline) should sum up your press release’s purpose, as well as intrigue a reader to continue. It may seem like a big job, but effective headlines are no longer than 18 words.
  2. Dateline
    There IS a correct way to write datelines. Get this often botched format correct by following my press release template above and using AP Style Guidelines to determine your city’s presentation.
  3. Grabber
    The first sentence of a press release is often called the grabber because it must (1) “grab” a reader’s attention, while (2) communicating any major points. (Your reader may only read this one sentence, so make it count).
  4. Game Description
    Immediately following your grabber, compel readers to continue on with an engaging game description. Be sure to weave in core benefits, as well as what makes your game unique. Here is a great press release example of a strong game description.
  5. Quotes
    Not only do quotes add a human element, but writers love them. One to two quotes from you, your team members, sponsors, etc. reinforcing your press release’s major points are a good idea.
  6. Call to Action
    Your press release is a piece of marketing. And like all marketing materials, it needs a call to action. A simple hyperlink to where readers can download, purchase or learn more about your game works best.
  7. About Section
    Instead of wasting text in the body of your press release to cover you and/or your studio, use the “About Section.” One paragraph with a link to your website should suffice.
  8. Contact Info
    Make it easy for a writer to follow up with you by including your contact information. Be sure to provide your email AND phone number.

Emmy

Emmy Jonassen is a marketing pro who helps indie developers build adoring fanbases. Marketing people who love buzz words call this "lead generation."

36 Comments

Wolfgang

about 2 years ago

Great! Exactly what we need for our upcoming new game, thanks for sharing!

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Jooki

about 2 years ago

Thanks for that. Would you really not put at least an image in the annex of the press mail?

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Emmy

about 2 years ago

Hi there! Thanks for the comment. I would include images as an attachment in the email, as well as in the press kit that I link to, but not in the actual press release Word document.

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Pandulf

about 2 years ago

What's the suggested format for press release documents? MS Word document or a PDF?

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Emmy

about 2 years ago

Word. This is so journalists can copy and paste.

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Craig Grannell

about 2 years ago

Hello. Although I personally reckon this post is a bit prescriptive (I prefer devs to just say "Hey, I've made a NEW THING! Here it is!", there are some good tips regarding content to possibly include. (Just, y'know, avoid doing the robot thing. I get 50+ PRs on a good a day (on a bad day, I get more), and many of them look identical in structure and that's a FIVE-ALARM WARNING to bin every one of the things.) In terms of format, though, speaking as a journo, sending me a Word document is a really great way to get me to immediately delete your PR. Send the text in the *body* of the email, so I can easily access and search it later. Do not make me load up some other app or even fire up Quick Look to view your copy. (Also, a *huge* number of devs I know don't use Word these days, threatening any fancy formatting. PDF's fine for an online press kit, though—no problems copying and pasting from it, assuming you've done the PDF right.) And I'm sure this sounds grumpy as hell, but when you're bombarded by email, you need to be able to filter things very quickly. "Open the attachment to read about my new thing" loses to "My new thing is…"

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Emmy

about 2 years ago

Thanks for the comment Craig! This is all excellent insight, especially coming from a journalist. I appreciate you posting all of this here.

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Csaba Nagy

about 2 years ago

Emmy, a fantastic post as usual! Not only will indie developers rejoice, but editors will be pleased to have higher quality submissions!

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Emmy

about 2 years ago

Thank you :) Glad to hear it.

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Keith Martin

about 2 years ago

I've been a tech journalist for 20+ years and I couldn't agree with Craig more: (a) there are some very good pointers in this article, but (b) watch out for the message coming across as a template-driven thing, and (c) for God's sake never, ever send me a press release as a Word attachment! I honestly never look at them. Well, not unless I already know something about the topic and I know the sender. And then I'll ask them to please not send me things like that any more. I know it sounds like a very grumpy attitude, but it's just how it is. I'm sure the majority of journos feel the same about press release attachments. By all means consider these structure pointers but just put it all into the email body!

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Emmy

about 2 years ago

Hi Keith, thank you for the comment. This is all great insight and I appreciate you taking the time to post it here. Because both you and Craig posted similar comments, I want to make sure I clarify the intention of this post. This post is meant as a guide for how to correctly format a press release for general distribution using AP Style guidelines and other best practices. It is not meant to provide tips for how to contact writers. As you allude to in your post, and as I preach on my site, sending a "template-driven" message to every journalist you reach out to, is not a good idea. Each message you send should be personalized and tailored to the interests of that journalist's audience. In regards to what format you use for your press release. Journalists have their preferences as to which format they like to receive press releases in. I've worked with writers that span the gamut on this. That said, I think your points about copying and pasting the text into the body of your email over a attaching a Word document are completely valid. When I recommended Word in the previous comment, I was speaking to the specific context of general distribution, i.e., when you submit your press release to sites like Games Press. (Games Press requests Word document attachments as its preferred method to receive press releases in it's submission instructions to avoid running into copying and pasting issues: http://www.gamespress.com/about_howtosubmit.asp). Looking back on my comment, I think I could have been way clearer though :) Apologies for that. Again, I appreciate both your and Craig's input here. It's great to hear this feedback straight from journalists.

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Joseph

about 2 years ago

Nice template, few .doc ones on here as well http://www.pressat.co.uk/free-sample-press-release-template/

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Emmy

about 2 years ago

Thanks for sharing Joseph!

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Sam Whippy

about 2 years ago

Hi, my game is in the early stages of code development but much of the art assets are already complete. I was just wondering, is it too early for me to make a press release? Should I wait until I have more of the code done?

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Emmy

about 2 years ago

Hi Sam! Thank you for the comment. The rule to always follow with a press release is if you don't have something impressive to share/show, then don't. It's great that you have art assets done, but I'm not sure if that is enough to go on. Perhaps if you had a free, playable demo in addition to the art assets, or were inviting people to a beta, etc., then you could for the "announcement-type" press release, but without those extra, "impressive" items, I may hold off. Hope that helps.

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Tammy

about 2 years ago

Thanks for the post and the great dialogue in the comments. Where/how should I include the press kit on my game website? For example, could do a link to download the press kit (i.e. PDF/Word docs, images in a zip file), and/or expect folks to copy/paste it from the launch website itself. Thanks in advance for your advice :)

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Emmy

about 2 years ago

Hi Tammy, many devs use presskit() as a way to give the press access to media. This free template allows you to both display your media on your website (so press can read/view without downloading), and provides links to download the zip files. You can get the template here.

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Tyler

about 2 years ago

I apologize if this comes across a bit rude. I followed your guidelines and did plenty of research into writing a press email. I sent to over 60 gaming sites using the videogamejournalist spreadsheet and filtered out any of the non-related ones. Out of those 60 only ONE big site PCgamer took the chance to reply. Everyone on reddit has told me that big walls of text like the one you are advising people are going to get trashed straight away. Such a shame. We have barely any exposure and our Kickstarter campaign will likely fail. It's funny because our game is interesting enough to be written about, as Kotaku and RPS took their own initiative to write about our game earlier in the year. Now when I did a proper press release following your guidelines it has crippled us. Literally only one decent site of the 60 wrote about us. I'll bet our email address is blacklisted now.

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Emmy

about 2 years ago

Hi Tyler. I'm sorry to hear you did not get the press response you were hoping for. I know how incredibly frustrating and disappointing this can be, so I feel for you. It's hard to say exactly what happened without knowing what you sent, but it sounds like you may be confusing the press release with the pitch email. Your press release is a document intended for general distribution that covers all the pertinent details of your game/announcement. The pitch email is an email sent by you to a contact at a publication intended to pique his/her interest in your game by answering the question, "why would this contact's readership care about my game?" Because each publication's readership may have different interests, and because every writer is different, every pitch email you send should be personalized and tailored. That said, your pitch emails should also include your press release (via a link to your online press kit, copy and pasted below your pitch email, etc.), along with your other promotional assets, so writers have everything they need to cover your Kickstarter. I would offer these pieces of advice:

  1. Ensure Your Pitch Emails are Personalized Are your pitch emails adequately answering the question, "why would this writer's readership care about my game?" on a per writer/publication basis? If not, conduct more research on that writer/publication to determine your angle. I cover some more tips on how to tailor your pitch emails in this presentation (skip to 28 minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkEQtMP2CuA.
  2. Ensure Your Kickstarter Has Everything Writers Want to See Because many games-to-be promoted on Kickstarter have not come to fruition with what they promised, writers are cautious about which Kickstarters they cover. To increase your chances of coverage, you must now, more than ever, show proof of progress and the ability to deliver. This of course includes an excellent video and other page assets, but many writers want to see a playable demo. (On your Kickstarter page, you reference a "playable pre-alpha." Any chance you could derive a playable demo from something like that and make it available to the Kickstarter audience/press? It may help).

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Dominic

about 2 years ago

Hi Emmy. I just saw your video on marketing. So good! It filled a few gaps I hadn't covered in my research. But one thing is still blurry to me. I would ask you : Where, in an email to the review sites, should we present the Press Release? Say I write to Toutcharcade. My first thought is I would be personal with them, talking to them about my game, my team... And if so, would I copy paste the Press Release below, in the email? Or are we supposed to place that PR as attachment to the email (just like the screenshots and Youtube trailer). Also is there a particularity that differs a review site to an article site? Many websites seem oriented towards revewing only. I'm guessing we need a different approach with them, without a PR. Sorry for the long post. Thank you!! Dominic

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Emmy

about 2 years ago

Hello Dominic. Thank you for the comment. When you email any writer, editor, reviewer, etc., your email should ALWAYS be tailored to that person and the readership of the publication that he/she writes for--as you mention in your note. It should be personalized to the individual you are writing to and explain why that person's readership will love your game (i.e., "your tailored pitch"). As for your press release, it can be copied and pasted below your main email, or you could post it on an online press kit and link to it from your email. In this online press kit you could also include your screenshots, trailer video, etc.

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Christian Teister

about 1 year ago

Hey Emmy, thanks a lot for this template! Right now, I'm writing a pre-launch press-release for my upcoming game "Arcanox: Cards vs. Castles". I wanted to let you know, that the link to the "AP Style Guidelines" is not working anymore. Best regards, Christian

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Emmy

about 1 year ago

Hi there, glad you're finding the template useful! Thanks for pointing out the broken link. It's now fixed :)

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Mike

about 1 year ago

Thanks for posting this, it's a big help for a first-timer like me!

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Mike

about 1 year ago

This is one of the best graphics I've seen describing the correct formula for a press release. However, you forgot one thing. Just above the "Headline" you forgot to write the words: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (in call caps). If I may please ask you to revise your graphic, you would help a lot of new writers to learn the true formula of an Associated Press "press release" standard. Thanks again for your well designed and informative graphic.

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Emmy

about 1 year ago

Hi Mike, thank you for your comment and suggestion! I think adding that line would be a good improvement for the template. Once I get some time, I'll try to make that adjustment. That said, I may take your suggestion a bit further. Instead of saying "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE," I may put something like "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE or EMBARGOED UNTIL [INSERT DATE]" so developers know where to put the "for immediate release" or embargo date :)

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Mike

about 1 year ago

And one last little point. From what I understand about press releases, is that the contact information is typically put just above the first paragraph of the press release.

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Mike

about 1 year ago

Another point. When sending a press release to an editor, the best way to send it by copying and pasting the press release as text in the email. (Never send a press release as an attachment.) Here is the argument against my statement above. "I always attach the press release to the email and I've never had a problem." My counter argument is, "How many times have editors rejected your press releases due to it being an attachment and you did not even know this?" Here is why I say put the press release as text in the email and NEVER send it as an attachment to an editor. 1) What program does the editor use to publish their press releases? InDesign or a web program. Translation: The editor or writer has to COPY AND PASTE your press release into another program to get it published. 2) An editor what? Received tons of emails every day. Put yourself in the editor's shoes. The editor is trying to open and get through hundreds of emails every day. If an editor opens an email and finds text in the email, he/she/trans can IMMEDIATELY READ THE PRESS RELEASE and can decide IMMEDIATELY, if they want to publish it. If the press release is attached as a Word document, the email can easily be ignored or deleted. Also the editor, another writer or graphic designer can copy and paste the press release directly from the email into InDesign or a web program. Or they can copy and paste the press release into their own Word document WITHOUT having to TAKE THE TIME TO OPEN an attachment. Also, a publication might have a policy which DOES NOT ALLOW ANYONE TO OPEN AN ATTACHMENT due to the treat of viruses.

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Liyo Kikon

about 11 months ago

Wow! this is really helpful! Thank you!

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Ryan

about 11 months ago

At what points in development should I be sending a press release? Are screenshots enough with a first announcement or should there always be something more? Also is it different for mobile development than pc development?

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