3 Tips To Increase Your Chances of Getting Review Keys

A Content Creator’s Guide to success when requesting keys from developers and publishers

Best Practices For Requesting Keys

June has come and gone, Summer Games Fest/E3 is over and gamers everywhere are rabid for content covering all the shiny new games coming to a console near them. So what are you, a bright-eyed and plucky content creator, going to do about it?

You’re going to hop on over to your favorite gaming PR platform or slide into your local game publisher or PR coordinator’s DMs and you’re going to plead your case about why you deserve early access to their smorgasbord of upcoming titles that you want to show off to your growing audience.

Go ahead, go start that hustle. We’ll wait right here…

What. Back already? It didn’t go very well, did it?

Well don’t worry, your friendly neighborhood Terminals Account Coordinator is here to give you a few tips that will help you better your chances of being considered for keys to upcoming titles.

Wait… Who Are You?

Getting keys is about trust. In this industry, you have to build trust and establish effective working relationships with publishers and PR if you want to be recognized as a verified media contact.

The first thing that whoever is reviewing your request is looking to do is to verify that you are who you say you are. They’ll want to know that you’re an established content creator or press outlet. Simple things like creating a central repository listing all of your social media channels, listing your email in the “about me” sections of your channel or site, and generally making your content easy to find, will help your case.

The next thing they’ll do is take a look at your audience numbers, how long you’ve been creating content, and what you’ve been saying about other brands and products that you’ve already covered. Developers and PR teams distribute keys to media and content creators because they trust that you as a content creator or a member of a press outlet, command a significant level of reach, and are reliably creating high-quality and unique content!

One of the best ways to build that trust is to set expectations between yourself and whoever you’re communicating with on the developer side. Once you’ve established that you’re a real person you’ll want to let them know what you’re about. Let them know what your coverage plans are, and give them timelines. Most importantly, stick to your plan. No one wants to give keys to people who never deliver the content they promise.

Understanding Your Reach

Everybody loves talking about games but as the saying goes, if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, did it really make a sound? What I mean is that you should try and become aware of how large your audience is. Using tools like SocialBlade, TwitchTracker, Google Analytics, SimilarWeb, and more, will allow you to be able to better understand the size of your audience and start tracking the statistics they present over time to help you grow.

Things like ensuring you have a consistent streaming schedule, having a significant amount of monthly site traffic, or high follower and subscriber counts are key factors that determine the priority of your key request. Remember, that PR person’s job is to get exposure for their clients/products, getting the word out to as many people as possible, which means the best way to get their attention is to highlight your audience size. Given the choice between someone who has 5000 subscribers on YouTube and someone who has 50, they’ll be choosing the outlet that provides the most exposure regardless of “potential for growth”. 

Don’t worry, there is no vast conspiracy that seeks to only keep keys for the top 1% of press and creators. There are just as many opportunities for first-time creators and outlets or influencers with smaller communities. You may be influential in a small but important community or you may be an authority on a certain topic or genre that will make it so you get a key before anyone else. Being able to identify those opportunities is why understanding your audience and your brand is essential to helping you both establish and leverage your media reach. If you have a unique point of view, share it. 

Sending Effective Key Requests

The last piece of advice I can give is to make sure you’re being succinct and direct with your key requests. You’ll want to ensure that not only does your request stand out among the masses but that it also gets straight to the point. The people reviewing your requests don’t have time for essays, and generic messages that read along the lines of: “I have a channel so you should give me a key”; don’t come off well and provide little to no information about why you deserve a key.

Remember my advice from earlier? Understanding your audience and media reach as well as leveraging your unique viewpoints? You’ll want to apply that here in force.

A good key request starts with a quick introduction. Explain who you are, how long you’ve been creating content, and why you think you’re the right person to showcase their game based on your identity as a creator and not just because you’re a really big fan. If you’re a horror game streamer, you’re more likely to get a key for the next Amnesia because you cater to the audience that relates to what you’re requesting. 

A great way to demonstrate that is to include links to your work that relate to the brand or game you’re requesting a key for. Make sure whatever you attach your best work shows your channel or site at its best and is easily viewable; after all, if it’s behind a paywall or your channel/website has been taken down, then we won’t be able to determine if you’ve actually got the kind of content we’re looking for.

It’s also important to show your personality with your key request. You’re having a conversation with whoever you’re sending this to, so you’ll want to personalize it to some degree. It is extremely easy to tell when a message has just been copied and pasted, so if you want your message to be taken seriously, add something unique to it. Even if English isn’t your first language, we live in a fantastic digital age where Google Translate is everyone’s best friend so you’re more than welcome to send out requests in your native language, whatever helps you get your message across.

Last but not least, keep it short and simple. While my ideal email pitch is no longer than a paragraph, this might differ depending on your style, but I guarantee you that nobody wants to read your memoirs when you’re asking for a key to their game.

Summing it all up

Unfortunately, I cannot personally guarantee that these things will secure you a key every single time. PR reps honestly have a very hard job of choosing who gets a key, just like you have when deciding what games to feature. Hopefully, the tips I’ve given here have provided you with a bit of context surrounding the key request process in the games industry though and made it a bit less daunting. I personally hope your next key request is successful, and even if it isn’t, never give up, there are always more games out there that deserve you and your audience’s attention!

Published August, 05 2022
Last updated August, 05 2022
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