Getting PR for products and services has become an enormous challenge. Communications channels have proliferated, publishers struggle to stay alive, and cutbacks have decimated journalist staff. Strategy isn’t enough. Execution isn’t enough. It takes the marriage of strategy and execution to get the job done.
84 placements in 24 hours: a case study
Just before Christmas 2021, Rina Sirinoglu, CEO of Turkey-based mobile casual-gaming company Spyke Games, reached out to Outfront Solutions founder Nicole DeMeo to “get the band back together again.” DeMeo had helped propel Zynga and Peak games to unicorn status.
Mobile gaming is on fire. With $136 billion in gross bookings today, according to IDG Consulting, it is estimated to grow 248% in the next 10 years, per Newzoo. Microsoft just bought Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in cash, Take-Two is buying Zynga for $12.7 billion, and VC investments in gaming companies are rolling in globally to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Spyke Games just closed a record-breaking $55 million seed round pre-revenue and pre-game launch.
Turkey’s equivalent of the SEC was due to post the transaction in the first week of January 2022. We had to be there at the same time, or we would lose control of the news. If you don’t lay down your story, someone else will.
Formulate your strategy, then execute it
We had a lot to work with. Sirinoglu is a female CEO. Spyke is based in Turkey, an emerging epicenter for game development. The seed round was from Griffin Gaming Partners, leading global game investors. And the team has an impressive track record.
But another gaming company was coming out with a Series A five times higher. And Turkey isn’t top-of-mind here in the U.S. We needed game-changing strategy — and fast.
We weren’t looking for tiny mentions in venture journals. We needed substantive articles in global gaming and technology media. We wanted visuals, quotes and background on the founders to maximize the media “real estate.” We created an infographic using game graphics and a co-founding team shot with a caption that included our key messages.
We created a bespoke list of journalists at key media outlets, highly researched for prior coverage. Extra attention was paid to syndication opportunities (one article typically gets you 5-10 more pick-ups in related media). We established who had personal relationships with the journalists and color-coded the list. We customized our pitches with the best firepower for each journalist and his or her readership.
Our strategy included an embargoed press release. Media agree not to release the news until a specific date with the understanding that they’ll get interviews or unique data in advance. It’s worthwhile to mention that some will agree to the embargo and then break it. We note those outlets, and they don’t get a second chance.
Then everything was thrown into doubt. Another gaming company was about to announce the much larger round of funding, which threatened to eclipse our news.
Related: The Impact of PR on Small Businesses
Pivoting to hijack the news
We were ready to launch on Jan. 18, a Tuesday. We avoid Mondays because journalists are cleaning up from the previous week. Jan. 17 was also Martin Luther King’s birthday, a federal holiday in the U.S., an important market for Spyke Games.
We assumed that the other company would launch on Tuesday for the above reasons. So, we pivoted and scheduled our launch for Monday, Jan. 17.
Sure, there might be fewer journalists, but there would be fewer press releases too. Fewer calls, emails and all the other noise that gets in the way of coverage. If we could generate significant coverage on Monday, an added benefit would be that Spyke Games would be included in the other company’s news.
We were at our desks at 6 a.m. sending releases to media that hadn’t agreed to the embargo, answering questions, providing background, delivering visuals and otherwise assisting journalists in scheduling interviews and fact-checking stories.
At 7 a.m. Pacific time, the release went out, and the media who had agreed to the embargo published.
In total, 84 placements were recorded within 24 hours, with 100% positive, naming Spyke Games and Griffin Gaming Partners and with North America having the top article mentions.
Linked news brings even more placements
We celebrated Monday and held our breath for Tuesday. We were not disappointed.
On Tuesday Jan. 18, the other gaming company announced its funding. TechCrunch wrote an article about it and included our news with a link to the article. Half a dozen more placements followed.
And with that news, Spyke Games was equated with gaming-industry unicorns Peak Games and Zynga — one of our key goals.
We learned an important lesson about bringing new products to market. Media-relations success requires the marriage of strategy and execution. And whatever you expect to get, shoot for the moon. That way, if you don’t hit your goal, you still knock it into the stratosphere.