Writing and creating a press kit for your business can be a mix of fine art and precision science. Luckily we've got all the information you need below to create a perfect press kit.
A wise person once told me that ‘to be used, you must first be useful.’
It was intended to make me feel better after a friend had ripped off a business idea of mine, and made a killing from it. It didn’t.
It did however seem to shed a lot of light on my business endeavours.
It led me to a realisation. People aren’t against me, they are for themselves.
When people find a way to do things that is easier than another way, they will 100% take advantage of it. Why wouldn’t they?
If I was trying to get news coverage for my bar, did I think that a newspaper would go out of their way to source information about my business, or rather run a story on a venue that shaved off a whole chunk of the process by compiling information for them?
Which is easier?
I realised that to be publicizable, I must become useful and easy to the publicizers.
It’s the same convenience logic that called for microwave ovens, next-day delivery, online dating, movie streaming… the amenities that make things easier.
It was just about thinking ‘How can I make it easy for this person to do what I want them to do?’, ‘What useful amenity can I offer this person?’
For getting publicity, I found the best and most professional amenity I could provide was a kick-ass press kit.
A Press kit, a.k.a ‘Press pack’ or ‘Media kit’, is a booklet which explains, succinctly, all about your business. Your product, brand, message, service… whatever it may be.
It’s essentially a cheat-sheet resource, that enables people to learn about your company quickly and easily, and contains a whole wealth of information that the press, members of media companies various, and the general public can use to educate themselves about you.
They used to be actual packs that would be requested or sent in the mail but now, lucky for us, they’re digital and can be viewed or downloaded instantaneously from your website:
Nowadays, they are often just a designated page or section of your website accessible via URL.
You can use a press kit to provide publications with content they can repurpose. That way everything written is already cleared by you, and provided alongside copyright cleared images and marketing material for them to use verbatim.
It doesn’t get much easier than that.
By having a press kit, you’re saying that you are professional and already have a procedure in place for this kind of enquiry.
Press kits mean there’s no need to trawl the net for a number of the correct department to talk to, no need to waste anyone’s time by perhaps misinterpreting the business from the website, no irritating switchboards. You’re literally pointing them towards the correct person.
The Four Seasons Press Room features a worldwide directory that finds the correct person to take an enquiry by region.
Online press kits are public access, and can be downloaded as PDFs, so aren’t exclusively for high profile press entities or publications. This means that this info can be accessed by bloggers, freelancers... anyone interested in your business model.
A reporter can look at your Press Kit and gauge whether or not they think it would make good content for them, not have to run around sourcing information only to find out it’s not what they were looking for and they’ve wasted a whole afternoon establishing that.
Some bigger publications and networks won’t even attempt looking into your business if they suspect that could be the case.
Then you’ve missed out on what could have been some incredible coverage because you didn’t prepare.
Having a sleek looking Press kit at our fingertips made us look like we were prepared to collaborate. (‘They must get a lot interest, right? They have a pack made up and everything.’)
I also felt it made us look a little less desperate to get media backing, as desperation just signals that no other companies are vouching for you.
That’s one way to get yourself blacklisted from credible press completely.
You’re not plastering ‘Call me!’ all over your website, you’re providing the information in an appropriate way to those that might need it. How understated.
2. Business Growth.
I would use our press kit as an outreach tool.
If I spotted an article online that mentioned a bar and thought ours might also be worth their attention, I’d forward it to them.
If I needed to alert the media of a launch, celebrity booking, seasonal promotion or something I thought could be newsworthy to them, I could attach the press kit - just in case.
It made us look legitimate, and meant that bigger named publications started taking us seriously. As soon as we started getting the backing from bigger, more reputable companies, people took more interest in writing about us. Typical, really.
If a friend turned to you and said ‘I’ll pay for us to fly to France, if we can leave right now,’ could you go? Would you have everything ready to just leave right there and then? Probably not.
The same goes for press coverage. If you can’t deliver what they need, when they need it you could very well miss your window of opportunity. These guys are working on strict deadlines and opportunity doesn’t wait around.
I learnt that the hard way when a magazine got in touch about including us in a their ‘5 new finds’ feature.
I spent the remainder of that day erratically putting together a frankly substandard Powerpoint presentation of what they needed, and by the time I could send it across not only was I stressed to the eyeballs, but we’d been trumped by another venue that was able to meet the deadline.
I’d totally ruined an opportunity for potential sales, greater web traffic and better brand exposure because I was underprepared for it.
MUST HAVES [The essential, bare minimum expected from a professional EPK]
People want to know your background, why you do what you do and learn about your company's roots. It adds a story element to the business which can help publications envision article potential.
Ours also includes short biographies of 6 of the core staff alongside a picture of them and a little bit about their role within the company.
A Facts Sheet
How many years have you been open for business? What’s your average turnover? Your location, your sales figures, statistics...
Anything impressive you can offer. If you can do it in an infographic or with visual aids- even better.
Here is your opportunity to demonstrate social proof by attaching any articles, interviews, videos, links or screenshots of previous coverage that you might have up your sleeve.
Generate some buzz by showing that other publications are interested in you. This might even include listing any awards or accolades you’ve obtained. I actually affixed a few of our most complimentary reviews to ours.
Large, high resolution photographs and a couple of variations of your company logo.
If possible, make the raw graphic files available for download as well. That way companies can access the vectors (the logo on a transparent background.)
Buffalo Wild Wings have an extremely thorough guide to brand identity, which looks a bit like this:
Who To Contact
Be clear with who you want to direct all press enquiries to.
It might be your marketing department, a spokesperson, a manager- but be specific about it.
I read recently that it’s also a bit of a bugbear to come across a generic email address such as email@example.com as it means they’ve then got to root around to find out who to address the email to.
After reading that, I went ahead and changed our press contact to firstname.lastname@example.org, so people know who they’re actually talking to.
Links to Your Social Media Channels
All websites include these anyway, but it’s worth having another set on the press/media pages, or in the footer so it’s visible no matter what page you’re on.
I actually track our website using heat maps, so it was interesting to see how many people that accessed the press page then went on to click our social media icons.
By making it easy to navigate back to social media, the user can easily access more images and resources if necessary. It’s all about making things easy at the end of the day, so make sure to consider user experience too. What might they need to access from where they are?
CAN HAVES [The stuff that isn’t expected, but can occasionally be asked for]
A page detailing the company’s charity/non-profit work, collaborators and sponsors.
Fliers or mock-up newspaper ads etc.
Quotes from happy clients, companies or in our case - customers.
A press release
If it’s being sent in response to something, it is sometimes helpful to provide a Press Release of the news that prompted the coverage.
I like to include them as it means we have an opportunity to provide a few quotes for publications to write into articles.
A Style guide
They typically include colour codes (Hex/RGB), trademarks, typography - that kind of thing.
This kind of information is really useful to a Digital Content marketer, so preparedness is always appreciated.
It’s also your chance to make specifications, so if you want your business name printed a certain way (ours is Indie Bar, but as our logo is lowercase many people refer to us as ‘indie Bar’,) this is where you can specify this.
The Buzzfeed style guide, providing hex codes and a selection of logo downloads
One of the best tips I ever got about putting together our press kit was to ‘tailor the content to where you see the bar going.’
This meant considering the kind of sites, magazines, and newspapers we were interested in getting into, then providing resources that would be useful and appealing to them.
I would for example think: What can I include that I can see Esquire running? Or what about this pack makes it look like a bar Time Out would feature?
I even spent a good amount of time studying columns of a particular writer at AZcentral to see what kind of features she liked to write about, and made sure those aspects were especially visible.
We also made sure the press resources were especially visible, so it was easily navigated to from the homepage. This included a ‘Press’ heading in the main menu as well as a ‘Media Resources’ link in the footer.
It’s a formula many places seem to go for, so most reporters and people in the PR field will instinctively look there. There’s not much point getting too imaginative with where you put your links. That’s a bit counterproductive.
You’re trying to make it easy, remember?
Here are few need-to-know PR terms that have cropped up over the years, that initially sent me scrambling madly to Google.
Lucky for me, they usually appeared in emails so I had time to do my research, but if you’re on a call - it’s not quite so easy to blag.
Better safe than sorry.
A short description of your brand or company that usually foots a press release and can be reused by others to reference your business. Boilers are typically around 3 sentences long and sometimes include a link back to your website.
E.g. ‘Could you send me your company Boiler to run alongside the logo?’
Supplementary video footage which is used to edit in between main shots. In press and broadcast terms, it refers to footage used in the background as a reporter or presenter tells a story. Companies sometimes include B-roll footage in their offline press packs as it can help encourage coverage.
E.g. ‘Can you send us any additional B-roll?’
In short, bulk text content. The term is used to refer to both print and web text.
E.g. ‘We want to generate some web copy to publicise your company.’
A contraction of ‘Editorial calendar(s)’ Ed cals contain publication dates, and detail PR plans for the upcoming year.
E.g. ‘I’ll check the ed cal, and get back to you.’
A restriction. In press it refers to a date stipulating when certain information can be released by. Press releases either go out for ‘immediate’ or embargoed release, which is stated at the top.
E.g. ‘Content under embargo until August 10, 2017’
It just stands for ‘Electronic Press Kit’. The majority of press kits these days are electronic because they’re found online and not in hard copy form. Online EPKs are public access and can be found with a URL. Offline EPKs are usually a compressed ZIP folder of files, images, MP3s, MP4s etc. which can be attached to an email and sent out.
E.g. ‘I would be interested it taking a look at your EPK.’
Long form: ‘High Resolution’. Editorial departments usually reach out when they need high quality photos or footage to run.
E.g. ‘I saw your EPK, and was looking to get hold of some more high res images.’
‘Recommended if you like’. It is usually more prominent in musicians EPKs but can also be used to mention things that you feel may be of interest to someone, or provide additional reading to a topic being discussed. In marketing it can help promote something (an artist, film, venue etc.) by appealing to a pre-established market or fanbase. You can use them on your website or in a press kit to give people a comparative insight into what you’re about.
E.g. ‘Your name came up under RIYL on X project. I thought I would reach out...’
An acronym for ‘unique visitors per month’. You might spot this on a fact sheet within a press pack or if someone is enquiring about analytics for your website.
E.g. ‘What’s your current UVM?’
If you’re a venue like us, you might also consider adding a floor plan or a link to a virtual tour
Remember, press kits signal you’re ready and willing to work with the press, but they don’t network for you.
Ours was a perfect resource for outreach.
I’d attach it to emails offering vouchers to reporters and marketers so they might come by and review us. I’d attach it to emails pitching articles that we’d be perfect for. I’d even keep a few hard copies of it in store just incase opportunity ever arose.
A press kit only makes it easier for people to talk about you - it doesn’t guarantee it.
But if you scratch their back, hopefully, they’ll scratch yours.