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How to email journalists without wasting their time

Let’s say you’re working on a game. You do different things to make sure people know the game exists. One of those things is sending emails to journalists. This can be really effective, or it can be a huge waste of everyone’s time, depending on how you do it.

When you’re emailing a journalist about your game, your goal is to make the email as relevant as you can. An email that is 100% relevant to a journalist will get you coverage. An email with zero relevancy is called spam.

How relevant your email is will vary for every person you’re contacting. So you’ll need to do some research and customize every email, instead of mass-mailing all your contacts.

Double-check that you spelled the name of your recipient right. Getting the name wrong is communicating that you don’t care about your recipient, so why should he or she care about your email?

Does the person still write for the publication you want to be covered by? If you met someone writing for Kotaku at an event last year, there’s a chance they have moved on to, say, Polygon. (Or they might not work as a journalist at all anymore.) You need to be aware of this when writing your email. The quickest way to make sure your info is up-to-date is by checking the Twitter bio of your recipient. BCC the email to Promoter so you can easily see your correspondence history later.

Check what genres and platforms your recipient writes about. If you’re making a word game that’s exclusive for iOS, don’t send it to the person who only covers PC strategy games. Figure out who the correct person at the publication is and send it there directly.

Only use services like MailChimp or CampaignMonitor to contact journalists if they actually signed up or gave you a business card.

Some of the journalists know you well, some have heard about you, some will have no idea who you are. Keep that in mind when writing your email. Introduce yourself, follow up on a previous article or remind your recipient where you met him or her. If you blindly send the same email to everyone, you don’t create any meaningful context.

Is there something newsworthy in your email? Why is this important? Does it make a good headline? Try to put yourself into the perspective of the journalist.

Write a clear subject line. Keep the email short. Get to the point. Use as few words as possible to say what you want to say. Longer text blocks such as team bio and other background information should go into your online press kit. If you don’t know how to build a press kit with HTML, use presskit().

Double-check for spelling mistakes and mixups. Common errors to look out for are sending from the wrong email address, and having duplicate or no footers.

If you’re scheduling a meeting with a journalist, confirm date and location a few days before the meeting and make sure you can contact them via mobile phone or Twitter if you can’t find each other on a busy location.

Let your story bubble up. Start out with sending an email to 5 people that you think will appreciate your content the most. If its good, other sites will pick it up.