Kickstarter Lesson #43: Press Releases

4 August 2013

newsiesSeveral of my Kickstarter Lessons discuss blogger outreach (here and here). The philosophy behind blogger outreach is that you try to figure out what you can do for them, not what they can do for you. And you establish those relationships well in advance of your project–don’t wait until Day 20 (or even Day 1) of your campaign to start looking for board game blogs.

Press releases are a different animal. Sure, technically you’re doing something for the blogger–you’re informing them that your Kickstarter campaign is coming up so they’re among the first to know. But it’s strictly informative. You’re not asking them to do anything, and you’re not offering to do anything–you’re just letting them know about your campaign.

Why is this important? After all, it’s easy for anyone to learn about your Kickstarter campaign after you launch. The key is that you’re getting the word out there before you launch, thus building hype for your campaign. You don’t want to do this too far in advance of your campaign–aim for about 10 days in advance. Many of these bloggers won’t mention the project until it’s live, which is fine.

I don’t think the following is a shining example of press releases, but I’m happy to share the press release I sent out for Euphoria. This was a Word attachment. The body of the email itself was very short and demonstrated to the blogger that I actually read his or her blog. Thus this is not a mass e-mail! Never send mass e-mails. Take the time to write people individually.

It’s Time to Build a Better Dystopia

New game from the creators of Viticulture launching on Kickstarter on May 15

Jamey Stegmaier and Alan Stone, creators of the Kickstarter hit Viticulture: The Strategic Game of Winemaking, are returning to Kickstarter to seek funding for their new game, Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia. Game lovers familiar with the dice in Alien Frontiers and the worker-placement/removal mechanics in The Manhattan Project and Tzolk’in will feel right at home in Euphoria.

Euphoria has been blind playtested by over 60 people across the world, and it will launch on Kickstarter with the full art and design complete. The Kickstarter campaign will feature the game at $49, including free shipping to individuals in the US, Canada, and the European Union, as well as free bulk shipping to a limited number of backers in Asia and Australia. Just like with Viticulture (which has already been delivered to many backers early, with all other backers due to receive their games as promised in May), Euphoria comes with a money-back guarantee to all Kickstarter backers.

The soft proofs are on their way!
The soft proofs are on their way!

About the game:

The world as we know it has ended, and in its place the city of Euphoria has risen. Believing that a new world order is needed to prevent another apocalypse, the Euphorian elite erect high walls around their golden city and promote intellectual equality above all else. Gone are personal freedoms; gone is knowledge of the past. All that matters is the future.

In Euphoria, you lead a team of workers (dice) and recruits (cards) to claim ownership of the dystopian world. You will generate commodities, dig tunnels to infiltrate opposing areas, construct markets, collect artifacts, strengthen allegiances, and fulfill secret agendas, all while trying to keep your morale high and your knowledge (represented by the numbers on the dice) as low as possible so your workers don’t discover they’re in a dystopia.

What are you willing to sacrifice in the present to make the future better than the past? Find out in Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia.

Number of players: 2-5 (adding a 6th player is one of the many Kickstarter stretch goals)

Time required: 60 min

Recommended ages: 13+

Stonemaier Games website: stonemaiergames.com

Euphoria art gallery: https://stonemaiergames.com/gallery/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StonemaierGames

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jameystegmaier

The key is that you’re giving the blogger all of the information they need to write about or talk about your project, including the links. Different bloggers like to focus on different aspects of the game, but basically I’ve made it easy for them to copy and paste any or all of the paragraphs if that’s easiest for them. Make it easy on them.

Also, can you see the big thing missing from this press release? A link to the preview page of my project. That was a mistake–I should have included it, and so should you.

Don’t expect a response from your press releases, and for heaven’s sake don’t pester any of these bloggers to see if they received it or if they’re going to announce it. They got the e-mail. Give them the time and space to decide if they want to announce that information, and don’t take it personally if they never mention it.

If your Kickstarter project is a board game, here are some of the blogs/people to whom I would recommend sending a press release. If anyone on this list does not want to receive press releases or if any game bloggers would like to be added to this list, you can contact me (Jamey) at stonemaiergames@gmail.com or comment below.

For any content creator who shares this type of news, subscribe to them. Like them on Facebook. Participate. Engage. When they post an entry/podcast/video that you really connect with, share it with people. That’s how you make this a two-way street and not all about you.

I follow a number of other fantastic blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels, but I’m not aware (at least not in my notes) that any of them post board game news. So please let me know if I accidentally left you off the list.

Last, you might wonder if/when you should send out press releases to local press. I would recommend doing this if your project is locally relevant. My games are no more relevant in St. Louis than they are in Taiwan, so I did not send out local press releases for Euphoria. Patrick Nickel talks about the pros and cons of local attention here if that’s something you’re considering. If you go that route, I would actually wait until your project has launched and is doing well before notifying the local media.

45 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #43: Press Releases

  1. Mark from Boardgames in Blighty here… For the record, it has been a pleasure to support Stonemaier games by publishing their press releases. The quality of a well written press release is the first thing I look for as a blogger and what I have received has been 1st rate. In addition, Jamey has made the effort to establish a relationship, expresses his appreciation and has been very professional throughout.

  2. Hey Mark, thanks for your kind words and for your support of the board game community. If you have any other tips to add about press releases, feel free to add onto what I’ve said.

      1. Are you using wordpress? For some reason when you copy-paste a link in from somewhere else it sometimes drops the “http://” and creates a broken link. If I wasn’t mirroring my posts on BGG (which builds in a double-check) this would catch me out all of the time. I’m not sure why it happens.

        1. Greg–Yes, I think that’s what’s happening. It was only for a few of the links–for some reason I think they were the ones what were in the format stonemaiergames.com. It would be nice if WordPress had a built-in double check–that’s really helpful.

  3. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been following this advice and things have generally gone smoothly (where smoothly is most people not replying and me having no idea if anything worked – but you gave fair warning about that). I have been wrongfooted by one outlet asking for a press kit. I didn’t know what one of those was so I had to look it up and throw one together, which seems to have gone alright, but it might be worth adding a line or two here in case someone gets thrown by the same thing.

    1. Greg–I’m not even quite sure what a press kit means. Does that mean to send a few images along with the press release for them to use?

      1. To the best of my knowledge (i.e. what I read on randomly googled articles) I think it’s a bunch of stuff: The press release, a set of images for the product, a set of images for the company (e.g. company logo), a few differently formatted images (to fit on a banner or front page as a link to the article), a bio for the company and a short bio for the individuals invovled.

        If you haven’t come across it before between your own KSs and the ones you’ve advised maybe being asked for one is one of those once in a blue moon deals. I can see the merits to including some of that stuff though :)

  4. Are there any outlets that you recommend submitting a press release to prior to the 10 day mark? For example, I’m wondering if it’s advantageous to submit a press release in the BoardGameGeek forums sooner to hopefully bring in early supporters.

    1. Jeremy–The 10-day mark isn’t an exact science–I’m sure some outlets would prefer them earlier or later. BGG is a different animal that I need to discuss on here at some point. My overall tip with BGG is that you should have a BGG page for your game as soon as you have a game–that could be months before the Kickstarter. You can send Eric Martin a press release, but it’s very rare that he’ll publish it before the Kickstarter goes live.

  5. Love this post, I love all of your lessons but this one is really helpful.. thank you! I have been unsure exactly where to find the best gaming blogs to get involved, and build awareness of my campaign with a press release before I launch on KS. The links you’ve provided are so helpful and save me a ton of time, so thanks again!

  6. Hi Jamey, we followed your advice and wrote a press release ready for our upcoming kickstarter campaign and it worked! We had a column published in the new Tabletop Gaming Magazine about our game! Although the campaign isn’t live yet it’s great to see some publicity out there! Thanks for the advice!

  7. Don’t feel like I remember ever finding this one before, which is very odd. But great post. Nearly comprehensive lists like this are wonderful. Casual Game Revolution and BoardGameQuest would both surely enjoy being on here. Thanks!

  8. Jamey! We have been listening to you and Richard Bliss, you have great advice (that we are trying to follow).

    Would you be considered a “blogger” to reach out to? ;)

  9. Hello Jamey,

    I was curious to what you meant by including the preview link in the press release. Do you mean provide the link for feedback, or as a way to have a link to the project after the Kickstarter goes live? I’d like to include it in my press release, but I’m just not sure how I should present it.

    Thanks!
    – Mitchell

  10. Mitchell: That’s a great question. It takes me back to the early days! :)

    By preview link, I’m referring to a link to the project page before it goes live. Kickstarter provides that link for you, and the link will automatically forward to the KS page after the project goes live.

    Here’s the phrasing I used in the Scythe press release, which I sent about 10 days before launch: “The Kickstarter preview page, which is embargoed for release to the general public until the launch date (October 13 at 9:30 am CST), is now open for media access.”

    “preview page” had an embedded URL.

    Does that help?

  11. Thanks for the clarification on the Preview Page link – wasnt sure whether to just put that feedback link out there or not.

    I have a question / request on the press release contact list. We have started sending out press releases through those links, although I have found most link to their home page of the website and requires often finding their contact form while some are no longer hosted etc…

    Now that I get to the request its sounding presumptuous to me, but are you willing to post or send privately your spreadsheet of press contact emails we can use to send the press release to directly? I know your advice is actually to develop a relationship months prior to the KickStarter campaign and we have in a few instances but have neglected the bulk of that work. (We have striven to follow as much of your advice as possible ;)

    Now that we are launching next Tuesday July 19, 2016 we would like to at least get the basic information and imagery out there quickly.

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1q_zodbs0HwH4anyGhpMTvO2xASeR_AaC9t7hAyvfsyw/edit?usp=sharing

  12. Christopher: Thanks for your question. I’m sorry if some of the links are out of date–feel free to let me know which ones.

    I think you touched upon the reason why I don’t share my full spreadsheet. It’s taken me a ton of work to engage each and every one of those media, and those connections mean something. I don’t want to put it out there for mass e-mails. Especially since those media contacts haven’t opted into anything other than e-mailing me or responding to my e-mails. The only people who have opted in to having their information publicly shared are on this list.

    Remember: https://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter-lesson-68-you-dont-have-to-launch-today/

  13. Jamey,

    I was running through the list of sites in this post to see if there were any that weren’t already on my list to contact before my Kickstarter. Seeing that in the comments Christopher didn’t give you any insight into which links are out of date, I thought I’d run through that for you.

    Shut Up and Sit Down’s site is https://www.shutupandsitdown.com/ (you’re currently linking to http://www.shutupshow.com).

    GamerChris hasn’t updated since this time last year, and might no longer be active.

    Metagames hasn’t updated since December 2015.

    Pulp Gamer hasn’t updated since 2014, when the main guy behind it died. The last few posts are all memorial articles about him.

    Noobsource doesn’t seem to have a real website anymore.

    Today in Board Games moved their site to here: http://todayinboardgames.com/

    Meeple Mechanic’s domain has expired, and nothing is hosted there anymore.

    The Boarding Kennel hasn’t updated since December 2015.

    Hope that helps, and thanks for putting this list together.

    Cheers,
    Adam

    1. Thank you so much for link checking, Adam! I’ve updated the post. This is exactly why I wait to see if reviewers can actually maintain their craft for a while before I send review copies to them. :)

  14. Hi Jamey!

    Thanks for a great audiobook on Audible and a great blog! I’m also listening to “Funding a Dream” by Richard Bliss, which is great stuff. My company will most likely be launching a Kickstarter campaign some time in October.

    Anyway, here is a question:
    You recommend sending out a press release 10 days in advance. I have experience of doing the same on our last campaign. What I experienced was that many posted articles about it 10 days before, and it got a lot of hype. However, the hype somewhat died out towards the launch date. Perhaps this could be solved by adding a news embargo?

    Another question:
    In another lesson you recommend revealing the project about 1 month ahead of time. Don’t you also risk many blogs writing about it, and that they don’t want to revisit the subject when you are actually launching the campaign?

    Last question:
    Would you recommend sending out new versions of the press release throughout the campaign? For example when the campaign has successfully been funded?

    Thanks a lot
    Cheers from Norway
    Aleksander

    1. I’m at Gen Con, so some quick answers: An embargo is fine. I’d still contact blogs in advance, though. I’d recommend only sending one announcement to retailers during the campaign, as you don’t want to pester them. :$

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