How is it like to work with a PR rep, you ask? Well, certainly different every time - depending on the publicist/agency in question, but also on you. Here's how to make sure everything sails smoothly for your release:
1. Don't wait until the last minute!
That's a very common mistake, and a very common headache for many devs and publicists alike.
If you get someone to promote your game just as it's coming out, you won't get any strategic direction, and most game outlets need to have a copy before the game is out to review it. What you will get, is a lousy press release and maybe a few blogs picking up on it. At that point you'd better hope your PR rep has a personal relationship with many streamers.
Depending on what you're looking for, you should aim for working 2-3 months before release with a PR rep - and that's just for a release campaign. If you have a larger game and would like to show it at events, or launch a Kickstarter campaign, 6-12 months before release is ideal.
2. Make sure your assets are as good as can be
The "making your game look good" part, at least when it comes to screenshots and footage for the trailer, will most likely fall on you. If you don't like the way your game looks, or you can't pick out a few good-looking parts at the very least, you're not ready for public attention yet.
But as with everything else, most publicists will happily help you go in the right direction. This also applies to your website, social media assets, etc.
3. Stay organised & available
There are very few "rules" when it comes to working with a PR rep, but this one I won't repeat enough:
If you say you will do something, stick with it.
That applies to showing up to interviews, making sure the (p)review build you're sending out isn't riddled with bugs, sending assets on deadline, etc.
The key word here is "deadline": a PR rep is your connection to the media, and more than just getting good coverage for your game, their job is also to get the right assets and info from you, on behalf of editors and journalists - within their timeline. If you don't keep your word, the interest you gathered can vanish before you even have time to say "but my game is good!"
4. Synchronise your other communications
If you're handling social media, mailing lists etc. yourself, make sure to keep the PR timeline in mind. Revealing aspects of the game on social media that were supposed to be part of a big announcement to the media 2 weeks later will make the potential buzz go about as well as wet firecrackers.
5. Find the right PR rep for you
Not everyone fits together well enough for a working relationship. This is a partnership of sorts we're talking about, and depending on your personality, your game and the way you like to work, not every PR company is going to be right for you:
- Do you want to work with a small team with a personal relationship and a made-to-fit approach, or a larger team where there will always be someone to help, maybe on a global scale?
- Would you rather focus on location, budget, past work?
- Does this person or company understand your genre, the message you're trying to pass on, etc?
- Are you comfortable with changing your message for diplomacy's sake, or would you insist on making your personality and quirks shine through?
- Would you prefer focusing on game dev while your publicist handles your communications, or would you rather get heavily involved in all strategic matters?