Working your Words: Basic Tips for Building a Press Release

A helpful primer to help you go from a blank page to pristine press release.

Working your Words: Basic Tips for Building a Press Release

We send out a lot of press releases around here; some are written by the wonderful developers & publishers who use Terminals but, more often than not, they’re written by us. Many of our clients opt to have us write them because they just don’t know what should go into a press release and that's a completely fair knowledge gap to have. While most know how to sell their game, it’s not always easy to put that passion into words, let alone do so effectively in order to make your press release stand out from the crowd. So with that in mind, here are a few tips for how you can better build and publish your own press releases with clarity & conviction in mind.

Good Bones: How to Structure your Press Release

Like any good piece of writing, a press release begins with a solid structure; a format both you and your reader can comfortably follow. For a press release, this means having distinct sections for all the things you want to share; one for info about your game, one for info about your company, possibly one for any additional links, and one focused on whatever the news is you’re sharing. 

Additionally, you’ll want to make sure to keep things tight and use good formatting to direct people’s eyes where you need them. Here are a few simple ways you can set-up your content to do just that:
  • Use shorter paragraphs and keep your text to the point. Get right to the news you’re sharing while highlighting any big CTAs (Calls-to-Action) that you’re trying to push. 

  • Bold lettering and italics can really help key words and phrases stick out, guiding eyes and letting people immediately cut to thick of things. 

  • Clever additions like quote blocks and bulleted lists can do a lot to break up a mountain of words and help people identify what’s important. 

  • Use assets like screenshots, trailers, & GIFs to break up your different sections that I brought up earlier to help make those even more distinct.

In general though, the best advice I can give to those still terrified of the blank page and not even sure where to start with their press releases is to just not overthink it. You’re putting this together with a distinct purpose, be it sharing a new trailer, announcing your release date, or letting the world know that your beloved creation is now finally on store shelves. Defining and discussing that key beat is all you need to really worry about, get that down nice & tight and the rest will fall into place. If in looking over your press release, you can’t figure out why you’re sending it, consider if you should be sending one out at all. If your press release doesn’t have a purpose, people aren’t going to read it.

Assets, Links, & How to Not be Spam

Smart use of assets can make or break your press release, turning an intimidating wall of text into a cinema screen by adding colour & movement that catches the eye, making people more likely to actually read what you have to say. 

You can definitely go overboard with this though, overwhelming people and burying your point; even worse, too many GIFs and images can bloat the file size of your email and make it more likely it’ll be flagged as spam. In general you’ll want to aim to have no more than four visual assets (screenshots, GIFs, video embeds) in your press release total, and as GIFs are especially chunky it’s best to use no more than two of those. Most importantly you’ll want to ensure that you’re keeping your press release under 10MB in size total, any more than that and you’re going to get flagged as processed ham (that’s spam, for the uninitiated).

You’ll want to apply a similar mindset to any links or hyperlinks, keeping them limited and useful. Just like with assets, an email bristling with blue underlines is likely to flag most filters, so keeping them to just what you need is best. But what do you need links for? Well primarily you want to use them to reinforce your CTAs. For example, if you’re debuting a trailer then you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a link to said trailer, or if you’re sharing that you’re part of a big Steam sale, then you’ll want to add links to your store page and to the larger sale itself. Having some direct link back to where people can learn more about your game is important too, be it an official website, social account, or store page. You’ll just want to be careful not to list absolutely everything you’ve got, with a hyperlink slotted into every other sentence, that’s where you can start getting into trouble.

Final Considerations & Publishing

Well now you have a press release written up and ready to go, but what do you do with it? It needs to get in front of your audience somehow, so let’s go over how to do that.

You have a lot of options for sharing your news with the world:

That said, regardless of how you get it out there, you’ll want to make sure that you’re adjusting your press release accordingly to suit that audience or platform. If you’re emailing it in any fashion, you’ll want to follow those spam guidelines I mentioned to the letter; if it’s going on Steam, you can make it a bit more casual to better connect with regular Joes rather than the media; and if it’s going on a press release service like GameDeveloper or GamesPress, those often make it so assets are separate from the release itself so you’ll want to lean more on clever text formatting to highlight key points.

The other thing you’ll want to consider is when to send out your press release. There’s a lot out there competing for people’s attention, so sending it at the right time can often make all the difference. Depending on the regions you’re targeting, you’ll want to pay attention to time zones; for example, if you’re targeting North America, sending between 9AM PT & 2PM PT is often ideal because that’s Noon & 5PM on the East Coast, meaning you’re within regular office hours for more or less the whole continent. This sort of timing increases the chance that people will see your message right when it comes in, rather than it being left to fester in an inbox overnight & getting buried by other stuff. 

You’ll also want to consider what sort of competition you’ll be up against that day. While it’s hard to predict when random pieces of news will go out, it’s a safe bet that the launch of a major title will make waves and likely cast asunder any hopes of getting attention for your smaller trailer or release date announcement. Same goes for putting out news during a major event like gamescom or Summer Games Fest; unless you’re a part of those events (and sometimes even then) you’re probably not going to get the eyes you need on those days. That’s why it’s important to keep watch on what’s coming and when in order to thread that needle somewhat so you can get your news out during a lull where it’s more likely to be picked up.

In Conclusion….

At the end of the day, as has been expressed here, what you need to focus on above all else is clarity and context. You have a specific message that you want to share, and everything in your press release —from the text to the images to the even basic structure—  should reinforce that message. That’s what you should keep in mind regardless of what kind of news you’re sharing, and hopefully the tips above have given you a better idea of how to do that.

Published September, 16 2022
Last updated September, 16 2022
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