The press kit: A valuable tool for small businesses and nonprofits

The press kit (or media kit or presentation dit) is a valuable tool when you want an in-depth hand-out to give to a member of the media, a funding source, or other valuable contact.

In addition to running my own public relations and marketing company, I’m also a part-time arts reporter who attends many opening nights. I’m always handed a press kit. Sometimes, it’s a typical bought-in-bulk folder with pockets and the theatre’s logo labeled on it. Sometimes, the folder has photos of the theatre on its cover.

The contents vary. Usually, there’s a copy of the evening’s playbill and a press release about the event. Some theatres include their annual reports, mission statements, and other information.

Depending on the theatre, there are other goodies. Goodspeed Musicals, the nationally regarded theatre in Connecticut, includes a CD with photographs and captions, which means I can file the review remotely. Berkshire Theatre Group includes backgrounders in its subscriber letter. Barrington Stage in Massachusetts includes the script of the play if it’s a premiere. Some theatres include drink tickets for intermission; one theatre, in a downtown setting, provides parking validation slips.

But the best press kits or media kits for me are the online ones. As a reporter, I’m interested in production photographs (with captions and photo credits), video interviews with the creative team, backgrounders on the participants, and a history of the production. Touring Broadway shows have extensive online media kits; smaller theatre companies have more basic ones. Although most online media kits are “open to the public,” only credentialed media have access to the photos, video and other materials. Some venues ask media to sign up for access (and then know who’s interested for future PR efforts).

Should you have a press kit? Should it be a handout? Should it be online?

Sarah Gronlic-McClurg, head of San Francisco’s Pounce PR, says, “I think a ‘newsroom’ spot on the website’s front page is important. And elements I always want my client to have include: bios, fact sheets (with some history/milestones), a press release page with copies of all recent press releases sent, and a media coverage page, with links to any articles that have appeared about the company.”

Hilda Mitrani, principal of Multilingual Media and Marketing in Miami, agrees. She recommends that a client have an online media kit and one that can be handed out. “The backgrounder should be three to five paragraphs, accompanied by a fact sheet. Be sure to emphasize your unique assets or attributes,” she says. Mitrani also includes live links to recent coverage of the client and their executives.

What to include

Consider the following components in your online and handout press kit.

1. The most essential element: your contact information. Name, Title, Company, Snail Mail Address, Phone, Cell Phone, Email and Website. You can also include a link to your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts.

2. Company History and Mission. Be concise. What do you do? What makes you stand out? Who are the members of your team? What unique assets do they (and you) bring to the market? Photos of your key team are always a good incentive. People like to put faces to names.

3. If you’re handing out a press kit at an event, have an event agenda. Who are the speakers? What are their titles? What’s the order of the presentation?

4. Share some recent press coverage. If you’re putting articles in a folder, use a quality copier. Use color copies for articles that originally ran in color. If you’re posting online, make sure your links work.

5. If you’re handing out the kit at an event or meeting, you can include photos on a disk. Editors like high-resolution photos with captions and photo credits. Don’t brag or use promotional language in the captions. Keep them simple. If you’re posting online, the same rules apply.

6. If you post video to your online kit, provide a brief description of what the video includes.

To swag or not to swag

There are always enhancements to either an online media kit or a handout.

If you’re a baker, restaurateur, or shopkeeper, include a coupon inviting the person to visit your shop for a free (insert the product here). That brings the person to your place of business. If you’re a consultant, that coupon could entitle people to an introductory session.

When I helped develop the first capital campaign for public radio station WFCR in Amherst, MA, they were raising funds for a new transmitter and tower. We designed the presentation folder, given to the media and potential high-end donors, so it unfolded like a tower. We also included a CD, recorded by the station’s familiar on-air voices, which explained the campaign, the station history, and what the new transmitter and tower would do to better people’s radio listening experience. An audio or audio/visual component is an enhancement.

Some people include “swag” or giveaways. The right kind of give-away scores points. Everyone needs quality ballpoint pens. Your pen with your logo and contact information on it is always appreciated. One of my travel clients includes a tube of lip balm with their logo on the outside of the tube. My favorite summer swag has been a powerful key-chain flashlight, given to me by a prep school that has lit, but not brightly lit walkways. Just make sure that your swag enhances your pitch and doesn’t distract from your intentions.

Your press kit, when handed out, is a take-away of your business and its uniqueness. Online, it’s an essential tool for media. When you give the media good resources to work with, you’re likely to get a more informed article.

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Mark G. Auerbach is principal at Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, a Springfield, MA, based marketing, public relations, development and events consultancy. You can find more information about Mark at Facebook and LinkedIn

 

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