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Experience with PR firms?

10-23-2009, 01:41 PM
#1
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Silicon Valley, CA
Posts: 90
Experience with PR firms?

Now that we have two games out, with more on the way, we were wondering if it makes sense to engage a PR firm to get the word out about BTA and our games. In particular, we wanted to see if anyone has had experience with a PR firm that would fit the budget of a small indie developer like us. Also, we'd like to use someone who has good experience representing iPhone app developers specifically.

After a quick search on the internet, I found one PR firm, Reverb, but it sounds like there was controversy over their use of interns to post fake positive reviews for their clients' games, and that's not the route we want to go.

Would anyone here care to share their experiences with PR firms for iPhone apps?

-Scott
10-23-2009, 02:03 PM
#2
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 977
Send a message via MSN to MindJuice Send a message via Skype™ to MindJuice
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broken Thumbs Apps View Post
Now that we have two games out, with more on the way, we were wondering if it makes sense to engage a PR firm to get the word out about BTA and our games. In particular, we wanted to see if anyone has had experience with a PR firm that would fit the budget of a small indie developer like us. Also, we'd like to use someone who has good experience representing iPhone app developers specifically.

After a quick search on the internet, I found one PR firm, Reverb, but it sounds like there was controversy over their use of interns to post fake positive reviews for their clients' games, and that's not the route we want to go.

Would anyone here care to share their experiences with PR firms for iPhone apps?

-Scott
Two others I've heard of:

www.appular.com - I contacted these guys and spoke to them on the phone. In my opinion, they didn't really seem interested in helping an unknown app get noticed (which to me is the whole point of hiring a PR company). I felt that they only want to spend their time marketing games that are basically so unique that they don't need marketing. They told me that although my game Charmed has some unique features, they felt they couldn't create enough "traction" with their industry contacts.

I thought that this was a particularly odd attitude for a PR firm. Coke and Pepsi are not really that different than the generic brands. The difference is in the marketing, not the product.


www.triplepointpr.com - This is the firm that was used by Bolt Creative (Pocket God) and Critical Thought Games (geoDefense series) among others. I contacted them, but have had no response so far after over a week. Would love to work with them though, as the geoDefense developer had good things to say about them.

10-23-2009, 02:36 PM
#3
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: San Francisco, California
Posts: 5,305
I've worked on the PR agency side, and one of things I suggest is you first figure out what type of budget you have. This will be key in determining the scope of work and the extent of campaigns. Having worked with EA and Sony in the past, campaigns are still limited by budgets with the PR firm because you are mostly paying for overhead...hate to admit it, but it's true.

I also suggest you have a clear and precise set of measurement goals...what will the agency have done to make it successful...and it needs to be more specific than "Sell more games". You should have these goals in mind before approaching a PR firm and be realistic. Being realistic is important because I've seen too many clients with lofty expectations that are out of whack with reality.

Have some ideas ahead of time such as target media outlets, crazy publicity ideas, and even future plans. The agency will either help you flesh these out or be completely honest about you're on crack. Make sure you find an agency where the people are not "yes" people. You want them to be honest with you. Too many agencies overpromise and under deliver just to sign you up.

Back to the budget issue, as an indie dev, you should consider hiring a consultant/freelancer over a PR agency. PR agencies have higher retainers and 30-60 day outclauses that are not budget friendly. In addition, agencies represent numerous companies, and staff (your team) almost assuredly will be working with other clients. You may not get the attention or creative input you want especially if you have a smaller budget. Going the consultant route is easier budgetwise because they typically bill hourly, are more focused on you since they have fewer other clients, and willing to work more one on one with you. If you have a bigger budget with bigger campaigns, then you can always move to an agency later, but if you're just starting out or have a small budget, a consultant is the way to go.
10-23-2009, 04:20 PM
#4
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Silicon Valley, CA
Posts: 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by MindJuice View Post
Two others I've heard of:

www.appular.com - I contacted these guys and spoke to them on the phone. In my opinion, they didn't really seem interested in helping an unknown app get noticed (which to me is the whole point of hiring a PR company). I felt that they only want to spend their time marketing games that are basically so unique that they don't need marketing. They told me that although my game Charmed has some unique features, they felt they couldn't create enough "traction" with their industry contacts.

I thought that this was a particularly odd attitude for a PR firm. Coke and Pepsi are not really that different than the generic brands. The difference is in the marketing, not the product.


www.triplepointpr.com - This is the firm that was used by Bolt Creative (Pocket God) and Critical Thought Games (geoDefense series) among others. I contacted them, but have had no response so far after over a week. Would love to work with them though, as the geoDefense developer had good things to say about them.
Thanks for the suggestions, MindJuice.

Others that I've since come across are applaunchpr.com (which helped launch AdMob's iPhone advertising network and Zippo's Virtual Lighter app) and mhnpr.com (trying to get more info), which we are looking at as well.
10-23-2009, 04:24 PM
#5
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Silicon Valley, CA
Posts: 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Albie View Post
I've worked on the PR agency side, and one of things I suggest is you first figure out what type of budget you have. This will be key in determining the scope of work and the extent of campaigns. Having worked with EA and Sony in the past, campaigns are still limited by budgets with the PR firm because you are mostly paying for overhead...hate to admit it, but it's true.

I also suggest you have a clear and precise set of measurement goals...what will the agency have done to make it successful...and it needs to be more specific than "Sell more games". You should have these goals in mind before approaching a PR firm and be realistic. Being realistic is important because I've seen too many clients with lofty expectations that are out of whack with reality.

Have some ideas ahead of time such as target media outlets, crazy publicity ideas, and even future plans. The agency will either help you flesh these out or be completely honest about you're on crack. Make sure you find an agency where the people are not "yes" people. You want them to be honest with you. Too many agencies overpromise and under deliver just to sign you up.

Back to the budget issue, as an indie dev, you should consider hiring a consultant/freelancer over a PR agency. PR agencies have higher retainers and 30-60 day outclauses that are not budget friendly. In addition, agencies represent numerous companies, and staff (your team) almost assuredly will be working with other clients. You may not get the attention or creative input you want especially if you have a smaller budget. Going the consultant route is easier budgetwise because they typically bill hourly, are more focused on you since they have fewer other clients, and willing to work more one on one with you. If you have a bigger budget with bigger campaigns, then you can always move to an agency later, but if you're just starting out or have a small budget, a consultant is the way to go.
Big Albie, thanks for the insight and great suggestions. We will definitely consider the issues outlined in your post when deciding between a PR agency v. consultant/freelancer v. something else. At this point, we're still trying to gather information and will make a decision based on what we can afford and what will maximize our budget.
12-11-2009, 01:59 PM
#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Albie View Post
I've worked on the PR agency side, and one of things I suggest is you first figure out what type of budget you have. This will be key in determining the scope of work and the extent of campaigns. Having worked with EA and Sony in the past, campaigns are still limited by budgets with the PR firm because you are mostly paying for overhead...hate to admit it, but it's true.

....

Back to the budget issue, as an indie dev, you should consider hiring a consultant/freelancer over a PR agency. PR agencies have higher retainers and 30-60 day outclauses that are not budget friendly. In addition, agencies represent numerous companies, and staff (your team) almost assuredly will be working with other clients. You may not get the attention or creative input you want especially if you have a smaller budget. Going the consultant route is easier budgetwise because they typically bill hourly, are more focused on you since they have fewer other clients, and willing to work more one on one with you. If you have a bigger budget with bigger campaigns, then you can always move to an agency later, but if you're just starting out or have a small budget, a consultant is the way to go.
Big Albie, great insider information I'm seriously thinking in hiring some PR guy for my upcoming game.
Do you have some guy/consultant to recommend? are a consultant yourself?
12-11-2009, 02:12 PM
#7
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: London, UK
Posts: 3,741
Quote:
Originally Posted by mromanuk View Post
Big Albie, great insider information I'm seriously thinking in hiring some PR guy for my upcoming game.
Do you have some guy/consultant to recommend? are a consultant yourself?
Albie's not around much anymore, if you want a reply you should probably try sending him an email

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12-11-2009, 02:27 PM
#8
Joined: Feb 1983
Location: Barcelona
Posts: 1,268,691
Just something to consider-

Any good PR firm will only get behind excellent games, since in essence they're putting their reputation on the line by pimping your product. If you have a truly great title that the top-tier PR firms will take on, it's hard to say if you even need a PR firm at all since exceptional games rarely go unnoticed.
12-11-2009, 02:57 PM
#9
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 977
Send a message via MSN to MindJuice Send a message via Skype™ to MindJuice
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hodapp View Post
Just something to consider-

Any good PR firm will only get behind excellent games, since in essence they're putting their reputation on the line by pimping your product. If you have a truly great title that the top-tier PR firms will take on, it's hard to say if you even need a PR firm at all since exceptional games rarely go unnoticed.
If a PR firm will only get behind games that are already going to do well, then why do we need them? To me that is not a "good" PR firm. That is just a lazy PR firm.

There are many, many good games on the App Store that nobody will ever see. If I retain a PR firm, I expect them to let people know about my games and improve their sales. Sure it would be great if my games have some particular advantage over the competition, but it isn't always about that.

It shouldn't matter whether you are marketing iPhone apps or soft drinks or toilet paper. The PR firm's job is to get exposure for your product in some creative ways. A PR firm that only takes on established content and guaranteed hits seems like a waste of money to me.

Which is better, Coke or Pepsi? Is there really enough difference between them that marketing makes a difference? Yes, because it's all about getting the product in front of enough eyes. If one did marketing and the other didn't, the marketed drink would totally dominate sales.

It's all about getting the eyes on your product. Then if your product is good, pretty good or great, you are likely to get much higher sales.

Last week, Charmed was featured by Apple in the Hot New Games category. For a few days we sold 20 times as many copies as before being featured (down to about 15 times now). Charmed didn't get any better or worse, it was just seen by thousands and thousands of more eyes that week.
12-11-2009, 03:01 PM
#10
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: London, UK
Posts: 3,741
Quote:
Originally Posted by MindJuice View Post
Which is better, Coke or Pepsi? Is there really enough difference between them that marketing makes a difference? Yes, because it's all about getting the product in front of enough eyes. If one did marketing and the other didn't, the marketed drink would totally dominate sales.
Ahh game theory If neither company advertised, they'd still both sell equally as much and save billions!

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゙(゚、 。 7 ノ
 l、゙ ~ヽ
 じしf_, )ノ