Tips For Devs: Getting The Most Out Of A Convention (Part 1)

Tips For Devs: Getting The Most Out Of A Convention (Part 1)

You’ve got a convention booth and a game you’ve spent far too many sleepless nights working on… now what?

Throughout my years of attending PAX, whether it be to cover games for various media outlets or working PR for Developers and friends, I’ve always walked away from the convention with a list of do’s and don’t for next year. This year, since I focused largely on game development and discoverability, I thought it would be useful to share a few things I’ve learned in an effort to help developers get the most out of their time, and game, at such conventions (notably the various PAX events).

I tend to be a touch on the verbose side, so it’s best I break this into a five part series to avoid giant walls of text and any strain upon your sanity.

1. Mass Email Press Weeks Before Convention 

mailchimp_logoAs an exhibitor at PAX, you’ll have access to a list of emails for all those media types who will be in attendance.  Combined with tools such as MailChimp, and Streak this easily becomes your best way of blasting out gameplay sessions, interview invites, and bringing attention around your game. It’s highly recommended that you send invites around 2-3 weeks out, as schedules tend to quickly fill up.  Also, follow up the week prior to see if there’s any more takers, it doesn’t hurt, and it’s a good reminder for some Writers to follow up on the previous request if it was forwarded to their Editor.

UPDATE: Here’s a great breakdown of some great Email Services for Business courtesy of Cloudwards that might be useful to Indie Devs in preparing to contact press.

In recent years, PAX East and Prime have occurred around the same time as other conventions such as GDC and Gamescom, so if you’re targeting large media outlets, be sure to time it so you’re not lost in the noise.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a reply, and don’t cherry pick outlets.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve not been able to schedule an interview and still stopped by a booth because I recognized the name. Chances are, if your name lands in their inbox, it’ll ring a bell when they pass by on the floor.

Also, this year I decided to create an interview availability schedule for the IndieHangover crew prior to PAX, and simply allowed Developers to pick a time that worked best. This cut down on the crazy amount of back and forth “what about this time, does it work for you?” emails that have occurred in recent years, and really allowed us to optimize our time at the expo. Do the same for your booth and let the media outlets pick a time, it’s probably the best idea I’ve ever had when it comes to pre-convention organization…. you’ll thank me later.


2. Have Press Assets Available

dopresskitMaybe it’s due to years of having their senses bombarded on the expo floor, but Media types tend to be a disorganized, forgetful, or overwhelmed lot, so it’s best you help them out. Where do I give you ask? While some sort of charity drive may seem like the answer, a small amount of organization on the Developer’s end can make a world of difference: have a presskit.

Whether it a link to a zip file download or page on your website, having all your information in one handy place will make life easier for someone to do a write up or reference your game. Rami Ismail’s “Do Presskit” provides an excellent outline and starting point for gathering all the goodies Journalists rely on when conjuring up articles for their insatiable Editors. It’s free. It’s easy. It’s a must.

To be continued…

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