What do you do next time a potential sponsor or journalist wants to know everything about you?
Don’t send a hasty email. What you need is a professional press or media kit to immediately attach and bang in the post. Done right, press kits can carry the weight of your reputation squarely on its shoulders.
They can pass the seven-second test. First impressions only take seven seconds to form, and they’re almost impossible to break. A press kit that’ll build relationships with you is a marketing goldmine.
But what goes into a press kit? And what is a press kit, exactly? It sounds prehistoric.
(It is, sort of.)
What's a press kit?
A press kit is an information pack about you and your brand. It used to be the pack you sent to the local paper after the editor phoned to ask for material to write a feature. Now it still might be sent off to the local, but it could also be a potential business partner or a blog sponsor.
They can be digital or collateral and both need different approaches regarding appearance, format and style, but both need the same set of information. For example, a physical press kit could be presented in a folder with several papers, and a media kit could be condensed into one big PDF.
It’s also the best place to flaunt your brand style. Remember the article/blog/podcast/town crier feature will be broadcast to a wider readership so making sure the recipient “gets you” through your material is critical.
Won’t a one-off email be easier?
In the short-term, a single email is faster, but it’s so much easier to have a brilliant press kit to hand for correspondences in future. If your press kit is memorable and the sight of your logo makes the recipient smile rather than a grimace, they might call you back someday for a follow-up. If great customisation gets you free press, then it’s worth the effort.
What should go into a press kit?
A Friendly Hello
Start it with a welcome letter or pitch letter. Use this as a table of contents and let the recipient know exactly what to expect. Drop in your contact details too. Since the point of a press kit is sharing information about yourself, you’re going to want to make sure they can call you back.
Logos, customisations and style
Make sure your press kit is customised. Follow your style. Your logo needs to be applied in a very deliberate way without filling it with every piece of marketing collateral imaginable. Your business card, your letterhead and so on are all fantastic, but be tasteful. The importance of aesthetics here is paramount - you want to stand above the pile of press kits languishing on the editor's office floor.
There’s so much here that might need to be included. Depending on your situation, you can cut and paste, but as a basis pretty much everything here is crucial.
Photos (you don’t want a newspaper to have to take a grainy snap in the rain of your new offices)
Your chief officer's biographies
Traffic / pageviews / subscribers / shares / growth trend statistics
It’s not as extensive as it looks. People read about people, not numbers.
If you want extra credibility, get the people involved to write their biographies. If it’s a physical press kit, get them to hand-sign them if possible.
The personal touch adds a level of value that shouldn’t be ignored, says the founder of The Qualipedia Dawn Bryan: “Think of writing letters and notes by hand as opportunities, not obligations.”
If you’re selling a product, you may already have a product factsheet (or sales sheet) ready. It should have all the key features, relevant statistics and technical data of your product presented concisely and accessibly. It should also fit on one page, like this one from Dreamliner. Leave out any technical jargon a layman won’t understand or self-important language.
Remember to feed the factsheet back to your mission statement, so your brand “feeling” is always at the forefront of the recipient’s mind. Most readers have short memories and need clever reminders. It should be possible for a reporter to write a review based on your product list, so a one-liner or lingo-stuffed manual won't cut it.
Don’t expect any journalist worth their salt to take your word for anything. Glowing reviews from clients, partners and even past press releases are all great in here too.
It’ll also make sure they're publishing something different to their competitors. It might seem counter-intuitive or boastful to include other publicity, but you’re doing the writers a favour.
If you need to increase your testimonial pool, try Trustpilot or Feefo for customer reviews to strengthen your credibility and drive traffic. According to Ruby Newell-Legner, it takes twelve positive customer experiences to make up for one bad one, so building a positive review base and aiming for Feefo Trusted Merchant accreditation would be excellent for establishing authority and reputation. Both companies offer a free trial, so you can test the systems before committing to a long-term plan.
Ready to Print
This is a lot of work but including an article penned by you or someone appropriate for your organisation means you've got control. They might edit a little, or they might publish it verbatim. Either way, you're a winner.
Digital or Physical?
The two types need different approaches.
Physical press kits, the traditional type, can be in glossy folders with customised letterheads and glossy print. The con is physical press kits exist above the fold. Physical limitations can get you stuck in a design rut for much longer than you can afford.
Digital media kits can be much more stylised and full of anchor links to direct your readers (and it’s more environmentally friendly), but while everyone can write a letter, not everyone can design a PDF, infographic or whitepaper. There’s also more pressure to fit everything in a smaller space for digital media kits. But it can be done to a high standard like this one from metropolitanorganizing.com.
Is it worth it?
After all, that time and effort polishing off a sharp press kit, brace yourself and remember the journalist/blogger/reviewer might break your heart and publish 5% of it.
It’s not personal. They’ve got copy limits.
Don’t consider it wasted effort. Doing legwork now will save you time in future. It’ll also make sure the story published is based on your carefully chosen information and not haphazard research by an outsider.
It’s becoming the norm to send digital press kits but if you have the chance to send something physical, do it. Holding a beautiful piece of branded product is much more memorable than an email, and there’s something nice about crisp, fresh press kits in hand. Update your press kit as time goes on and learn what works and what doesn't.
Even if only that miserable 5% gets printed, don’t despair over lost hours. One great write-up could catapult your reach and ensure more cycles of great press in future. Set the scene now and soak up the rewards.