How to run a PR campaign for your app

Artyom Dogtiev | November 5, 2015

App Marketing

A properly planned and implemented public relations campaign is one of the most effective ways to promote an mobile app. The idea behind such campaign is to get an app covered in media and get people talking about it. Among other app marketing techniques, PR has won a reputation to be one of the most controversial. Quite often, without having an experience in PR, app business owners have unreasonable expectations for what a pr campaign can deliver for an app marketing. In this HowTo article we’re going to lay out a step-by-step plan to launch and run a successful PR campaign for your mobile app.

You can either launch a PR campaign yourself or hire an app PR agency.  Whatever you decide here are the main steps in the process:

1. Write a general plan

You need to write an overall plan you’ll be acting upon as you move along your app PR campaign. Create a document in either Google Spreadsheets or any other spreadsheet program you use. In this document you need to add a timeline, expenses to buy an account on online services that provide contact information for bloggers, editors, journalists and goals you want to achieve with this campaign.

2. Compose a media list

You need to put on the list both high profile media outlets like TechCrunch or Re/Code, as well as smaller niche publications that cover topics related to your app. When you collect contact information it’s important to find not only email but a Twitter handler or LinkedIn profile as well. According to numerous studies, email, as a communicate channel, often fails because of a large number of spam messages in businesses email inbox. During your app PR campaign your specific goal is to reach out bloggers, editors and journalists to write about your app.
Bloggers are independent online writers, who writes about specific interest(s) she or he has. Editors are responsible for deciding what specific content to publish on online media they work at. Journalists either report on news or write about their specific topic(s). Among all online services to find contact information, we suggest to use any of the following ones in particular:

  • BlogDash – a media database (30 days trial, $250/month)
  • GroupHigh – a search engine for media contacts (2 weeks free trial, $625/month)
  • My Media Info – writers and editors contact info database ($262/month)

3. Write a good pitch
A pitch is a short message you’re composing to approach media contacts with your app. You need to write a template of your pitch to change it accordingly to specific individual you’re writing to. In every media outlet each journalist has its own beat – a specific theme that she or he covers. You need to know what beat does every journalist or writer from your media list have. Your pitch should contain:

  • A short, 2-3 sentences long, introduction part that introduces you as an app author and provides a reason why you’re approaching this specific individual. The best reason for writing would be to point out on similar app that she or he covered before.
  • Major part that tells about your app, 4-5 sentences long, with your app 15-30 seconds video demo included.
  • A conclusion part that provides ways to get in touch with you.
  • Include first and last name, of a person you’re writing to, in your email title to grab her or his attention.

4. Get in touch
The most important constrain to take into account, when plan to start writing to people on your media list, is their busy schedule. You need to remember, that you’re approaching people, that most likely has a really busy schedule. Editors often get 300+ emails per day from various sources and your message will be one those, therefore use multiple channels – email in conjunction with Twitter and LinkedIn.
5. Follow up
It’s suggested to follow each contact up to 3 times, in case if she or he hasn’t reply back within 3 days after your initial message. Usually if you don’t hear from your media contacts for more than three days, it means that they aren’t interested in your app and simply don’t have time to reply back to tell you that.
6. Update initial media list
Your initial media list should consists of 15-20 contacts and, as you begin to approach them, there is a passibility, that many will pass your request, and so you’ll need to look for more editors, journalists or bloggers to pitch your app to.
So if that’s the process to go though to plan and run a PR campaign for your app by yourself.

App PR Agencies

If you are looking for an agency to launch an app PR campaign for you, there are some of the best of Public Relations consultancies to approach:

  • Big Ideas Machine – is an integrated PR and Marketing agency based in London
  • ComboApp – a Chicago-based mobile app marketing and pr agency
  • Appency – a Sacramento-based mobile application marketing and pr company
  • Dimoso – a London-based PR and marketing agency
  • Appular – a New York-based iPhone app marketing and PR agency
  • Brushfire – a New Jersey-based digital PR agency
  • Airfoil Public Relations –  a Detroit-based innovative marketing and public relations agency
  • DBC – a Washington-based PR and social media agency
  • Be Social – a San Diego-based premium digital PR firm
  • The Hoffman Agency – a San Jose-based leading digital PR firm
  • LEWIS PR – a global PR and communications agency with 28 offices around the world.

Other Resources

The videos below provide some more guidance on the steps outlined above.
Firstly Peggy Anne Salz from MobileGroove during her interview to Rob Woodbridge from Unether TV talks about smart mobile app PR on a small budget.
How to do PR for your mobile application on the cheap

Secondly, Matt Ronge from Astro HQ talks about the company experience  of launching the AstoPad app on the iTunes App Store.
Lessons in App PR: How to Launch

Thirdly, Renate Nyborg, App Store Business Manager at Apple, Inc., the founder and former CEO of Pleo, shares her vision for driving app discovery using PR, events and marketing.
How to Market Your App using PR

Further Reading
You can also find out more in these other posts on the topic.
How three app PR launches completely nailed it (while one wildly popular app surprisingly flopped) – Richard O’Connell from AppFlood covers case studies for three popular apps that got press coverage as a result of a successful PR campaign and one that did not.
Five Incredibly Simple PR Tips for Mobile Game Developers – Steve Young from RunWay shares five specific tips to launch a successful app PR campaign.
Getting PR and press for an app – Annabelle Clarke from PHAMedia outlines four points to consider and include into an app PR campaign plan.
The Indie Dev’s Crash Course Guide To Mobile App Pr – Janel Torkington  from AppZoom shares the interview with PR professionals that specialize on doing PR for indie developers.
“How To Market Your App On A Shoestring Budget” Ebook” – a comprehensive guide for mobile app marketing with a limited budget.
2015 App Reviewer Survey – the research white paper shads light on several key questions about app reviewing websites.
The most important point about running a pr campaign for your mobile app is that it’s long term effort. You shouldn’t expect to get your app covered in media right away, reasonable expectation time for first publications to occur is within first 2-3 weeks since you started to send out your app’s pitch. Last but not least, when you decide on should you run a PR campaign yourself or hire an agency to run it, consider the fact that good PR agency has an established relationships with multiple media outlets. Having such connections allow PR agencies to speed up an app consideration process but not secure its coverage. Any good media outlet editors always think what their audience likes to read first and other considerations go second.

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