So now you have a list. Congratulations. What do you do with it?
Use it. Like this:
So when do you send a pitch? Prelaunch pitches are sent approximately three months before launch and release date pitches are sent a week or two before launch. (Big budget releases may pitch earlier and more frequently, but they have both a larger game and a larger budget that warrants, and can support, a more intense marketing effort.)
Prelaunch pitches introduce your game and provide tantalizing peeks at some of the wonderful and unique features of your game. For example, do you have a compelling story idea? Are the visuals spectacular? Did you get a celebrity to provide voice acting? Do you have a beta ready for previews? In addition, the pitch should also share screenshots or early gameplay videos and offer interview opportunities. What if you don't have much to share? What if all you have, say, is concept art? Pitch anyway – the more familiar influencers are with you and your game, the better the odds of getting coverage.
Release date pitches, again, talk about the unique and wonderful components of your game. But, this time you offer more polished information, such as an official trailer. And always offer a copy of your game for review.
Not every pitch results in coverage. In fact, the vast majority of them do not. And not every pitch results in good coverage. Some will result in a bad review. But generate good coverage in just a few, key influencers, and each one of them can, in turn, generate interest in thousands, or tens of thousands, of their followers.
With pitches, you only have to hit the jackpot a few times to win.
To write your pitch, use a friendly, conversational style (like this article), keep it short (one or two paragraphs is ideal), ensure your subject line and first sentence grab attention, and be thorough (include all relevant facts, including your contact information).
Here's an example of a prelaunch pitch for a radical new (and fictional) solitaire game.
SUBJECT: Solitaire to the death... Beta now ready to preview
You don't play solitaire like I play solitaire. When I play, there's blood in the streets. Today, I invite you to play solitaire like I do with Solitaire Combat, my unique spin on the classic game beloved by millions. It will be available on Steam on November 22, 2012.
Solitaire Combat brings this classic to life with 3D graphics and unique characters designed by the award-winning artist Hugo Viggo. To play, each player constructs a deck of cards and pits them against their opponent. Weapon upgrades, customizable skillsets, and even special hats change the balance of power every minute and enable players to snatch victory from the bloody jaws of defeat -- or defeat from the grinning maw of victory. If you are interested in writing a review, please let me know. Thank you!
Beta download link
[links to your social media accounts]
A few days after each pitch is sent, call or email the influencers you sent it to. You do this because you want them to remember your game. You do this because you want them to write, or create a video, about it. And you do this because you want their followers not only to learn about your game, but to become so enthralled they buy it.
But be aware, while outreach to influencers is a critical marketing tool it is not your entire marketing arsenal. You can also run Facebook ads, host Reddit Ask Me Anythings, contests, attend events, get awards, write news releases, deal with wire services, and so on. But if you master nothing else, master this. Because if you are successful, you will be that much closer to generating the sales that will allow you to do all this all over again.