How to Get a Response from a Website about your App Review

| April 15, 2013 | 2 Comments

Zebra Partners Motto: “We get it. No two clients fit the same mold. And we like it that way.”

I considered titling this post “Today in my InBox” because in all my years working with children, I always loved the concept of catching people being good instead of just pointing out their mistakes. Huh? What’s that have to do with my email inbox? To explain, I offer up this collaborative post with Rob Wheat of Zebra Partners, a marketing and public relations consultant.

One of the most difficult things for most of the website owners I know who run app review and book blogs is the sheer volume of email requests they get unsolicited. In many cases, simply reading & deleting these emails takes me over an hour a day. If I wanted to properly respond, it could take half the day and then I would never have time to actually DO any of the things people are asking for in all these missives. Then again, among the most frustrating experiences for an app developer is to submit their app to hundreds of media outlets and to hear absolutely nothing back. And I really empathize with them, having gone through this process myself two years ago, for several apps my husband developed.

In 2011, a year into running my review site, Digital-Storytime, I penned a post about my experiences, titled The Dirty Little Secret About App Review Sites. Then last summer, I contributed a post that appeared in the MomsWithApps blog titled, 5 Tips for Working with Review Sites to give developers some good ideas about how to get their apps reviewed. The conversation Rob & I had today is an example of how to engage with the media in a way that leaves both sides less frustrated and maybe even a little inspired to get back to work.

Rob first contacted me in early March about a project called FingerPrint. He didn’t submit the apps through our request form at first, but he did use our official feedback form and was very gracious, so I pointed him in the right direction. It took me two weeks to respond and another 10 days before I had time to preview the app he submitted correctly through the form. I could tell it wouldn’t fit our site’s very narrow editorial guidelines, but did not contact him.

In the transcript below, you’ll notice also that I simply ignored one of his questions, about having Skype contact with the CEO of the company. Often if an email has multiple questions, a reviewer will only answer one of them in the interest of time. A blog that likes to do interviews, however, might have chosen to answer Rob’s question about the Skype call and ignored the request for review.

Then in early April, Rob contacted me again, which is a very reasonable amount of time to wait for a follow up. Most review sites, including mine, do not regularly contact developers when we reject an app for review, so about 90% of submissions get no response. However, very few requests are ever followed up, so a polite inquiry is usually not unwelcome. I responded to let him know my decision.

You’ll see that when Rob contacts me again, he is persistent at times but never rude, clear in his requests and usually brief and to the point. Most importantly, though, Rob’s warm and thoughtful approach treats me like a real person and he knows when to switch gears and accept no in lieu of something more realistic. Often when I say no to someone’s request, if they respond at all, it is often in a disgruntled or angry way that makes me unlikely to consider any contact with that developer in the future. Each media outlet you contact has very different resources and if you are dead set on one thing (a review, social media mention, etc.) you may miss out on other resources by alienating someone over email.

I’ve been shocked by the number of people who forget even the most basic social graces when communicating online, especially the ones that come across as entitled to my time or coverage on my site. You can rarely tell, by the look of a website, just how ‘big’ the organization is behind it. A blog can look very polished with current tools and have lots of great content while still being run by just one full-time mom, working part-time. Rob’s approach, in part because it is so rare, made me feel more generous about continuing the correspondence and offering additional resources. In the end, I suggested he collaborate with me on this post, which was a win-win.

A review site or blog that simply responds to a request by email has given the developer an opening, but it may not be a very wide one. During the several hour stretch of today’s part of the thread of emails, I also received but did not respond to a dozen other new requests. Rob picked up on the opportunity to basically ‘chat’ over email since it was obvious I was online. I do not respond to all emails this way, I simply can’t, but if you are persistent and remember that you are talking to a real person, one of the many sites you contact is likely to respond. And when they do, consider Rob’s approach:

Begin Thread

Mar 4 To: Carisa Kluver, From: Rob Wheat

Name: Rob Wheat
E-Mail: r—- @gmail.com
Reason: Other
Dear Carisa, Hoped an email would be a less obtrusive way to check in and hope you’re having a good week so far… I was eager to write you to introduce a really cool company named Fingerprint Play, which is slated to release more than 40 new educational games this year for three to 12-year-olds – including Veggie Tales, Calliou, Max & Ruby, Franklin and others. I have codes to their games – Scribble My Story or The Flying Alphabetinis – to show off how learning can be fun and would be eager to get you those codes… Could I please send you some more information? Would you have time for a 10 to 15 minute connection by phone or Skype with CEO Nancy MacIntyre? Well, thank you very much in advance, I’m eager to get the ok to send you some brief materials and I know you’d find Nancy to be someone with a very unique to speak with about the future of mobile games, books and apps… I also have great artwork in the form of screen shots, etc. I’ll stand by, thank you very much in advance and please write of call xxx-xxx-xxxx anytime… Take care and thanks!! Rob

 

Mar 18 To: Rob Wheat, From: Carisa Kluver

Rob,

This sounds like a great project and we are happy to take a look at each app, if you would like to submit codes.

We have two forms for submissions. We only review book apps, but do have a second site to promote educational apps with recent price drops. Here are the two forms:
For Educational Kids Apps: http://edapps4sale.com/submitApp.php#1
For iPad or Universal Kids Book Apps: http://digital-storytime.com/reviewRequest.php#1
Best of luck!
Carisa
April 9 To: Carisa Kluver, From: Rob Wheat
Dear Carisa,
Hope you’re having a good week and just hoped to please check in…
I wondered if you had a chance to please experience any of the Fingerprint games (www.fingerprintplay.com) and any of them may have struck a chord… they are for children three to 12 and have more than 40 games coming out this year…
Well, thank you very much for considering them, I’m standing by to help and please let me know if I can provide you with artwork or anything at all…
Standing by and thanks again!!
Rob
April 9 To: Rob Wheat, From: Carisa Kluver
We really like the fingerprint play series but we don’t do reviews of general ed apps – only for book apps. We’re sorry if you were hoping for a review on our site since this app series does not fit our usual content …
Carisa
April 10 To: Carisa Kluver, From: Rob Wheat
That’s ok, thank you, it’s good to know your direction because we have other clients that might be a better fit… I was thinking Mindshapes, known for their Magic Book…
I’ll keep an eye out for book apps instead, and thank you very much again for your note!!
Rob
April 12 To: Carisa Kluver, From: Rob Wheat
Say Carisa, hope you had good week, just hoped to circle back as Step-by-Story CaillouImagination Camping and Scribble My Veggie Tales Story are both “story creation” apps… would they not qualify for review hopefully? Being stories?
I’ll stand by and thanks for your patience!!
Rob
April 12 To: Rob Wheat, From: Carisa Kluver
Sorry Rob … we don’t review storytelling or story creation apps either. We just don’t have the staff to handle any expansion in our content restrictions right now. I have many other sites I could recommend or discuss a blog post for our ‘lessons learned’ series.
Best,
Carisa
Sent from my iPad
7:12 AM – April 15 To: Carisa Kluver, From: Rob Wheat
Thanks Carisa, completely understand and thanks for letting me bounce off that they’re story creation apps… understand about staff constraints and thank you, if you had sites that you would recommend, I surely would appreciate your thoughts…
Hope you had a great weekend and thank you again,
Rob
10:24 AM – April 15 To: Rob Wheat, From: Carisa Kluver

You bet. I have the sites that guest review for me, plus adding http://melissanorthway.com/. You can find the whole list in this post in my blog, along with extra info about each site’s founding: http://digitalmediadiet.com/?p=2228

Best,
Carisa
10:28 AM – April 15 To: Carisa Kluver, From: Rob Wheat
Excellent, thank you very much Carisa!!  You’ve listed out a lot of great sites, it’s a great resource, thank you!!  I saw a couple of “familiar faces” but many I had not heard of…
Well, thank you again for taking the time to send your great link and please write or call anytime!!
Rob
10:41 AM – April 15 To: Rob Wheat, From: Carisa Kluver
My pleasure. Thank you for being understanding & best of luck with your lovely apps.
Carisa
10:45 AM – April 15 To: Carisa Kluver, From: Rob Wheat
Thank you, you’ve really been more than kind, I sure appreciate it… have a great rest of the week and hopefully our paths will cross again soon… :)
Rob
10:54 AM – April 15 To: Rob Wheat, From: Carisa Kluver

Rob,

I wonder how you would feel about me sharing this email conversation in my blog, as an example of really good way to engage a busy review site owner (or really any other human being).
Since this thread represents 12 emails between us on the topic, it also shows how much time it takes for review sites to conduct basic business. I really appreciate when people treat me kindly in the process if I do manage to respond in the first place.
Let me know & I could probably get it out today for publication … I’m having writer’s block except on email for some reason today.
:)
Carisa
End Thread

And here are Rob’s great insights about our interaction:

I would say that it was just so great to hear back from a person, that it really “personalizes” a site because now I know Digital Storytime as that great site run by “Carisa” instead of no response at all… And I was especially impressed that you took the time not only to let me know where your editorial focus is, but to also provide me with an excellent resource like the list you developed was amazing… that really is going above and beyond, considering we as PR folks often don’t hear anything back often times…
And even though the ones I have aren’t a great fit for the publication this time around, I still have a strong good feeling about Digital Storytime, making me want to keep an eye out for opportunities that could be a better fit and / or maybe something special like a giveaway, etc.

I think that makes the PR person feel more like a “partner” in the process than an intrusion, hopefully…

When I approach the media, I try to think of myself as another blogger (reporter) and anticipate what those needs might be. That was something I learned early at my first job, Golin-Harris, after coming from a newspaper sports / feature writing background.

 

Rob Wheat is a national media relations specialist with experience in television, radio and newspapers. Rob worked with Nintendo for more than 15 years through Golin Harris and is now a freelance consultant working with Zebra Partners among other clients.

Category: All About Apps, Marketing Apps

About the Author ()

Carisa Kluver is the the editor of Digital-Storytime.com, an iPad children's book review site. She has a BA in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and an MSW from the University of Washington. Before starting this project, she was a school counselor, health educator and researcher in child & maternal health.

Comments (2)

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  1. iGameMom says:

    thanks for sharing. I can really relate! It is good to know I am not the only one.

  2. Thank you for sharing the exchanges, Carisa. I know personally that app review sites get flooded with requests. Good thing, you didn’t just ignore Rob, which you could have easily done. Kudos to you!

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