You may have heard the term press kit and may have even received a press kit for something. Although the form and function of a press kit can vary greatly by industry, the accepted definition of one is:
"A package of promotional material provided to members of the press to brief them, especially about a product, service, or candidate."
Because there's so much variety, let's look at the actual components that can make up a press kit, and how to assemble one that gives your product or service the best chance of free publicity, also known as earned media. If you do your press kit correctly, you will see a return many times greater than your initial investment, especially if the kit gets your product or service airtime on news stations, or write-ups online and in print media outlets.
Creating Your Press Kit
There's no rule book on creating press kits that specify what components you must include. Your press kits will vary based on what you're promoting and the type of media that will be receiving your press kit.
Most press kits are mailed out, often to people who have administrative assistants, and it is your job to create a press kit that's interesting enough to get past the gatekeeper. Content and presentation matter a lot. You can also send your kit out electronically, although if it has ten parts that may get cumbersome.
What you include is very important because a press kit should be an easy way to spotlight you or your business. Think of it as your company's greatest hits compilation, because you want the media to know about you and your products and services in one tidy package. The main press kit components you'll want to consider include the following items.
The Press Release
Your press kit's press release announces what you're publicizing. If you have a new product, the press kit helps introduce it. If your company is merging with another, the press release champions that.
You can include multiple press releases in your press kit. For example, a trade show press kit might contain a company merger press release, three new product press releases, and a press release announcing a new CEO.
However, don't include more than one press release if you can avoid it. If you're sending a press kit to an editor, you'll need just one press release. Remember, the more you include, the more work you're making people do. You want to make their job as easy as possible.
A Brief Letter/Table of Contents
This is especially helpful for any kind of press kit that includes a lot of different, but equally important, elements. Your letter can be addressed to the media thanking them for their interest in advance, and then you can provide a summary of what's included and state why the product or service would be interesting to them. Be sure your media contact's name and contact information are correct.
PR pros use press kits to announce a new product, but you can also include your brochure. Brochures are especially helpful to explain your product or service in addition to a simple press release. It is not only a visual element but it can provide technical information in a straight-forward way. For a trade show press kit, you can include a number of brochures that give the editor/reporter a large amount of information about all the various your products/services.
If your product is small enough, and you can afford to do so, you should put a sample inside the press kit. This gives editors and reporters the chance to test the product on their own. Of course, make sure the product works before sending it to an editor. You don't want to send Wired magazine a new kind of flashlight that ignites into flames while operating.
If your product is too big and you'll be holding a demonstration at your facility, include that information so the editor/reporter can come to your location and see the product up close. Or, if your trade show booth is having a demo, that's a good way to give a lot of editors and reporters from around the country a chance to see your product in action.
If you only have a few samples, create a tiered press kit mailing. The top-tier media may only consist of five to ten outlets, but they'll be the most important.
Past Press Coverage
If you've received free media coverage before, you can include a sheet that details those media outlets. But don't send media coverage from a direct competitor or it won't be covered. For example, if House Beautiful ran a piece on your product don't send it to House & Garden because they'll say that it was already covered by a shelter publication. However, if your product appeared in a CNN segment, go ahead and include that press exposure.
This can be a great addition to a press kit because it details features, benefits, and other specific information in a way that educates the reporter or editor about your company and/or products with quick bullet points of information. Fact sheets can be used for product launches, press kits about new hires, news conferences, and other areas where you want to give the editor key facts that they may want to use word-for-word.
Writing a company history page can be valuable for current and future press kits. This backgrounder details your company's beginnings and can include where your business is headed. Major accomplishments should be included as well as any accolades or awards. Also, don't forget your plans for expansion and product development. Be sure to update your backgrounder on an annual basis to include any additional accomplishments and benchmark moments.
Whether it's a new CEO, a new PR executive, or a new member of your board of directors, this is the place to inform people about those that comprise your team.
Executive bios, along with high-resolution images, give the editor much-needed background information about the caliber of people behind the company. Some publications print a bio word-for-word, so write the bio in the third-person rather than the first-person point of view. Keep all bios to one page and include awards and accolades but no personal information other than industry affiliations.
Quote Sheet and FAQ
A quote sheet—containing quotations from the people in your company—is a streamlined way to give busy editors quotes they need to complete an article without forcing editors to track down a company's PR person.
This sheet can feature quotes from your executives, product developers, and even your customers (otherwise known as testimonials). One sheet of quotes can answer the most obvious questions an editor is likely to have. Just make sure each quote reads well on paper because that quote will most likely be used verbatim in print.
Include Hi-Res Images on a Flash Drive
Are images relevant to your press kit? If so, be sure they are high-resolution images stored on a handy media device like a flash drive or a CD. You can also include high-res images on your website for the media to download. Just be sure to include the direct link to your image gallery in your press kit material.