Having a great press kit is an essential part of every successful launch, it not only helps show off your app to its full potential, but also gives Journalists a single place to find everything they need. Most apps don’t have press kits and if they do they tend to be poorly put together.
Press kits exist to make everyone's lives easier. If a Journalist wants to know more about your app they can look in the press kit first rather than having to reach out and wait for a reply from you. Editors and Journalists are inundated with apps every week and are usually on a tight deadline, so it’s in your interest to make it as easy as possible for them to get up to speed with your app.
A great press kit contains a review guide, screenshots, photos, icons, and video. If you include all of these you’ll have a press kit that’s better than 99.9% of other apps out there.
Let’s take a look at each of the key elements in more detail.
1. Review Guide
The idea behind a review guide is to give Journalists enough information to help them get started with your app as quick as possible, in some ways it’s just like a getting started guide specifically tailored for Journalists.
I’d recommend using Apple’s Pages app to put together a .pdf outlining how your app works, along with an in-depth look at the full feature set. You should include all the other relevant information too; pricing, system requirements, release information, FAQs, links, and your contact details.
Even if your app is basic and you feel you don’t need a review guide, I’d still urge you to put something together that highlights the less obvious features. You should use it as another chance to sell the benefits of your app.
These should be suitable for the publication to use in their coverage. This is a chance to really show off your app looking its best, make sure you spend the time getting these just right.
When capturing (or designing) your screenshots, make sure everything is perfect. Pick the features that look the most impressive, and more importantly fill the app with sensible data. For example, if it’s a task management app aimed at business users fill it will business related tasks, not your weekly food shopping list.
If the status bar is visible in your app make sure it also has perfect settings. It should display a solid cellular connection, a full battery and a sensible time. Showing off screenshots with a low battery and the time set to 3am just looks lazy, some Journalists will pick up on this and won’t want to use your screenshots.
It’s also tempting to just include your promotional App Store screenshots, but again this is lazy. Journalists like to see the raw shots of your app. Firstly, this is because your App Store screenshots might look more like ads, especially if you're using text callouts. Secondly, some review sites like to comp screenshots into devices to produce lifestyle photos, so if you don’t provide any raw screenshots they won’t be able to do this.
3. Lifestyle photos
While not essential, I think lifestyle shots can really help showoff your app, they often look much better than straight screen grabs of the UI. Some sites like to show screenshots while others prefer this more natural type of shot, it’s better to give them the choice and supply both. Providing them with great photography of your app in action not only makes your app look good, but it also makes their site look great too. It’s beneficial for both parties.
I also believe showing your app in context is much more powerful, it can really give your app a story and show users where and how they could be using it. It can have a certain aspirational quality about it if done correctly.
Creating professional looking lifestyle shots is hard, and can be quite time consuming, but it really is worth the time and effort involved.
4. Icons, Logos & Banners
One of the most important items in a press kit is your icon. It’s best to include it at various sizes and formats to save Journalists spending time resizing or converting it. For the web, png is usually the best format as it’s lossless, and supports transparency. For print an eps is the best option as it can be scaled to any size without loss of quality.
You should also include your company logo and any app branding you think is relevant. I’d recommend including any type based logos in both png and eps formats, again this is perfect for web and print.
A banner is also nice to include, while this is not essential, it’s good practice to include one. If Apple do want to feature you they’ll request some banner artwork anyway, so you may as well get a jump start on designing it now, just incase. The specifications for App Store banner artwork can be found here.
5. Video and Vines
If you’ve produced a promo video for your app (and you really should have) include a link to it in the press kit. I’d recommend hosting it on YouTube and Vimeo, the main reason being because more channels equal more exposure!
You’ll also want to make it as easy as possible for Journalist to embed your promo video, YouTube is perfect for this. I personal prefer the look and viewing experience of Vimeo, it’s just more classy than YouTube. However, a word of warning, Vimeo charges for embedded plays so you’re better off providing Journalists with a link to the YouTube version. Use the Vimeo hosted version for embedding on your own website.
You should also think about including “Vines” in your press kit, they are short, fun and easily shareable. If you’re not familiar with Vine, it’s a video sharing service by Twitter that limits you to seven seconds of video. Vines are perfect for showing off short interactions or features in your app, plus the are easily to share and embed.
Since I started including vines in press kits, I’ve noticed that they are often chosen over full promo videos or screenshots. I think this is mainly because they auto play and are short. Peoples attention spans on the internet are very limited, they don’t want to watch a 60 second promo video to understand what your app is about.
Make it easy to find
Your press kit should be easy to find on your website, don’t hide it away in a press area, put it in the footer of your product page and also on your company page.
Dropbox is a great place to store it, keeping it on an FTP server is a pain. Every time you need to update it you have to keep re-zipping and re-uploading it. Having a folder on Dropbox that is shareable and easily updated is much more convenient. Storing your press kit on Dropbox also makes it easy for Journalists to just click the “Download to my Dropbox” option.
Whatever you end up doing with your press kit, just make sure it's easy for Journalists or anyone else interested in your products to find.