App developers need to court attention from writers
As we’ve written about before, it’s important to be proactive in reaching out to the press and developing relationships. Our previous piece on tips for reaching out to the media continues to be popular because so many app developers are searching for guidance on how to navigate a world that is often foreign to them.
Here’s what an expert says about the topic:
We had the pleasure of meeting Victor from TUAW last week at WWDC and we got to see him give a presentation at Appsterdam WWDC HQ about how app developers can be most successful in their interactions with bloggers. His talk was engaging and informative and we thought we’d share what we heard from him.
For the TL;DR crowd, Victor had three main points to share with us all:
- Make it great
- Give it time
- Be a mensch
Why does this matter?
Before he dug into the heart of his talk, he gave us all a compelling overview of why the press matters to your app’s success. There were a few really important points that I took away from this:
- TUAW’s audience is really in “buying/download” mode. Fun fact: TUAW frequently drives more sales and downloads of an app than an Apple feature in the app store
- Victor’s explanation for this was that TUAW and other blogs/publications about apps tend to act as “trusted friends” whose opinions are very influential, as opposed to the feature banners, which are often more akin to a “billboard on the highway”
- It’s about people – it was clear that a common theme in Victor’s talk was the admonishment that if you realize that bloggers/the press/your customers are people too, you’ll make a lot more correct decisions along the way.
Make it great
It might sound trite to say it, but the simple point here was if you couldn’t pitch your app to a blogger and talk about why what you’ve built is specifically great, you haven’t hit the mark. How do you know it’s great? Here were a few tips to sanity checking your own internal barometer:
- Talk to people who are “normal” – if you haven’t let other people use your app and gotten their feedback on what you’ve built, you’re very likely to miss basic capabilities that an average person requires. Making something that is intuitive requires actual validation of your design hypothesis.
- What problem does it solve? If you can’t describe a core problem that your app solves, how do you expect a blogger to understand why it’s important enough to write about?
- It needs to work! It sounds like TUAW sees far too many apps before they’re ready for primetime, struggling with crashing issues and incomplete functionality. Knowing that you’re developing a relationship with bloggers, you need to be thinking about how to make your first impression a positive one.
Give it time
Victor advised app developers to invest in relationships and to be patient. No, you’re not going to get the “perfect launch” with several articles at the same time that your app is released in the app store, so reset your expectations.
Instead, settle into a rhythm about telling your story to the right people and engaging with the right communities. If your app is real estate-focused, Victor said, get involved in the real estate community, tell your story, explain why your app is relevant and stay engaged in the comments and on Twitter.
Be constructive and helpful and you’ll get somewhere – seems simple right?
However, most people aren’t willing to invest the time and effort required to execute on this strategy. It takes a lot of work to continue reaching out, engaging in conversations, connecting, interacting and adding value. It takes even more work to research the bloggers you’re trying to reach out to in order to understand their particular interests, where they focus their time and if you’re appropriate. But it’s the kind of work that’s worth investing in because it results in personal connections and relationships that enable you to be heard and can assist you in attracting allies instead of of people you’re begging for favors.
Be a mensch
Just be a human being – realize that the people you’re interacting with are real people with lives, time constraints and stresses, just like you. If you hound them and annoy them, of course they’re not going to want to help you. “You’re not going to win converts by badgering people,” Victor told the crowd. If you want them to take the time to help you, be patient and understanding.
You might think that you’ve built something amazing but it’s not going to be true for everybody and you need to have the humility and self-awareness to realize this. More importantly, if someone gives you a bad/scathing review or makes a lot of suggestions, LISTEN!
The people you’re dealing with are in this industry and writing about it because they love what developers are building every day. They respect your work, appreciate it and want you to produce the best product possible so listen to them because they’re investing their energy in helping you be successful.
Finally, some tactical advice
In addition to Victor’s 3 main points, he shared some tactical advice during Q&A:
- If you’re going to create a Twitter account/blog/Facebook page for your app, make sure that it’s got some personality.
- If you want to really dive deep into this topic, you should check out “Pitch Perfect”, written by his colleagues Erica Sadun and Steven Sande.
- Follow up, but politely. If you sent a message across and didn’t hear anything, it’s ok to follow up a week later, just to make sure they’d seen your message
- Press releases really don’t capture their attention, don’t spend time and money on PR firms that just blast out press releases
- When your app gets written about, participate in the comments
- The comments can be a very solid place for bloggers to discover new apps, so if you’re engaging in conversation about your app across the web, it can help you get noticed
- NEVER, EVER, pay for a review
And, a bonus, the actual video!
Thanks to the Appsterdam folks for taking video and letting us know about it: