We have talked a lot about ways to market your app (advertising, social media, etc.) but the world of Public Relations has not been mentioned much. While the two go hand in hand, they are not quite the same—the goal of marketing efforts is to make a sale (or download in your case) and the end goal of PR is to build reputation, which can later be reflected in sales figures. You should include both in your promotion strategy to gain maximum recognition and notoriety.
Where do I begin?
Knowing who to contact is challenging, and exactly what to say to them is even more daunting. Tech blogs and websites are notoriously difficult to get coverage on, so keep an open mind and try to imagine which other sectors may be interested in what your app has to offer. Take a look at articles written about products similar to yours, and do some research on the journalists that interest you—namely their social media and LinkedIn accounts, and other articles they have written to see if an article including your app would be a good fit for their repertoire and interests.
Once you’re ready to contact them, avoid sending generic emails that appear to be part of a mass mailing attack. Personalize each message to the recipient, and let them know why your specific app could be interesting to them and their readers—it doesn’t hurt to refer to previous pieces they have written to demonstrate relevancy.
In a very competitive situation such as the app market, showing what makes your product unique is mandatory, or you will face an instant toss into the “no” pile. The first sentence, or better yet, the subject of your email needs to contain the impressive, differentiating factor about your product in order to draw in the journalist's attention and spark their curiosity.
When is the right time for coverage?
If possible, create buzz about your app right before or at the very beginning of its launch to create fundamental awareness while it is still new and hot in the market. Giving journalists access to the perfected AdHoc version gives them a chance to test it before everyone else, and enough time to write an article that can be released upon its launch.
Ideally press coverage should continue throughout the lifetime of the app, in accordance with updates, new features, accomplishments, etc., so if your app is a constant work in progress, this gives continuous reason for attention and coverage.
Should I pay? How much?
Nobody is complaining about free press coverage, but pros and cons accompany both free and paid posts.
When you pay to be part of a post, in most cases you know in advance exactly what will be said and have the opportunity to collaborate with the author in order to best promote yourself. This is great, but sometimes an overly positive, flawless review can appear obvious to the reader that it has been sponsored, instead of genuinely earned.
Free coverage has financial benefits as well as the honesty factor that consumers are really seeking, but comes with the risk of brutal, reputation damaging criticism if the journalist/blogger views faults in your product. However, many say that bad press is better than no press—at least your product has generated attention and you have the opportunity to publicly recover if needed.