How to deal with journalists
You might find that a journalist is closer than you think. Scour your network of friends and find out if anyone works for an online magazine, a newspaper or a PR agency. You never know who might be willing to lend a hand.
Modern news media is not an essential gatekeeper for your app to be seen. We have had apps that were picked up by the national and international press and, although sales have definitely spiked asa result of such media coverage, these spikes are nowhere near what you might see if you’re featured on iTunes, or reviewed favourably in a popular tech blog. Our advice is to avoid wasting your time with the major newspapers and magazines: Even if they featured your app it would probably do your ego more good (or bad!) than sales. You would probably be better off focusing your efforts on more targeted outlets such as blogs and Twitter.
To get coverage from a blog, write politely to the site editor, or the features editor if the blog has a section that deals specifically with apps. State very clearly (in no more than three or four short sentences) what your app does, its purpose, and why the blog should find it relevant to their readers. Imagine the world’s most bored, cynical, depressed person reading your email – this almost exactly describes over 80% of journalists – how do you make them perk up?
So: In clear English get to the point quickly, then send the email. The rest is in the hands of Lady Luck. Here is a list of some great blogs to pitch your app to:
• Daring Fireball
• The Verge
Using YouTube as promotional tool
A few years ago an advert would cost you tens of thousands of pounds to make, and hundreds of thousands of pounds to air on television. Luckily, today television is free - Well, the only version of television that counts is free: It’s called YouTube.
We spent zero pounds making the advert for Alice for the iPad, and at the time of writing, it has almost 2 million hits and shifted over half-a-million apps. To get that number of viewers on a TV advert, you would have to spend millions of dollars. We did it with zero. And you can too.
Making a video
A picture is worth a thousand words; a video displays 60 pictures and upwards a second. So a 30 second video is worth approximately eight billion words. This will save you a lot of writing. Take a look at some existing app promo videos.
Take a look at Alice for the iPad:
Nursery Rhymes with Storytime:
Chris Stevens shot both of these videos personally. The Alice for the iPad video cost nothing to make, the Nursery Rhymes with Storytime video cost £200 - and all of that was the cost of hiring the male actor. The set was borrowed, the people were friends, the light was all natural. These two videos demonstrate the enormous potential of near-zero-budget film-making to promote your app. If you have no idea how to shoot a video, find a friend who does, or trawl vimeo for amateur film-makers whose work you like, and make them a small cash offer.
Finally, don’t make the mistake of publishing a video that is more than about 30-seconds. Generally everyone’s attention is so fried from constant exposure to MTV-style programming, that you will completely lose your audience with a longer promo.
If you can’t pack your app idea into a 30-seconds video, then you’ve overcomplicated your app. Take another look at previous post to make it concise.
Good luck with your app. It’s a brave new world out there, and I’m glad to have you be a part of it!