PR Your Self delves into practices for earning media coverage without a Publicist
By Melissa A Vitale
Press Kits or Media Kits are a hotly debated topic in Public Relations. Some publicists swear by them and others refuse to rely on them. Most publicists fall somewhere in between: without an on-staff graphic designer, (which is rare for boutique PR operations) media kits can cause more problems then they solve. Publicists, if using them, don't need the fanciest media kit to relay the information to journalists and going back and forth with clients on design elements is a waste of time. However, if brands commission their own media kit from a talented graphic artist, a publicist will absolutely use a stellar existing brand representation.
While a media-kit isn't a fix-all to getting press, it can help busy entrepreneurs and experts garner more media coverage without a publicist. If you have a detailed website showcasing services or products, you likely have enough to easily create your own media kit. A media kit is a PDF that includes images, relevant links and brief written information answering the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of a brand or individual for interested press. Media kits can help busy entrepreneurs automate the process for incoming press requests. When a journalist reaches out, you can send them your media kit to help them plan how they want to approach the story. Maybe they didn't know all the products you offered or all the expertise available. It moves the conversation along quicker than without one.
Many journalists keep media kits on file for easy-reference when considering sources for a story. When starting their initial research on a company to profile, a media kit helps a journalist understand a birds-eye view of a company to help organize their thoughts. Journalists cold-outreaching to a company may search for the term "media kit" on the website to make sure the brand is press-friendly. A media kit signals to editors and writers that a brand or individual is media-ready. Having a media kit available won't immediately bring in press opportunities, but you'll be prepared to take advantage of them when they either come knocking, or if you find them through social media.
While I do recommend you make a media kit, I don't recommend you put it on your website available for download. You won't know who's reading your media kit and what that information can do in their hands. While of course you don't want to include intellectual property in your media kit, you never know what a troll will do and you don't want your viral moment to be someone making fun of your hard-work. Instead, on a dedicated press page, include an email address that journalists can use to request a press kit or media kit. You'll want both of these terms on your website since some journalists use control+F or a google search to find what they're looking for. You don't want them to miss you because you used press instead of media kit and vice versa. To make sure journalists will reach out to request your Media Kit, create a dedicated press email that is separate from your general "contact us" email which may or may not be monitored.
What to Include in your Media Kit:
A media kit can be multi-page or a single page. You'll want to include the brand basics like logo, website, social media handles, and a brief company description or boiler plate that includes the brand's mission and background. A founder bio and "available for interview" is a must-include as well. Available for Interviews--also shortened to AFI--is a short list of topics of expertise that a journalist could interview on for a relevant story. If you're a cannabis brand, you may be able to comment on consumer trends or market predictions. If you're a sex party host, you may have topics like consent and how to prepare for your first play party on your AFI.
If the company sells products, a media kit should include some lifestyle images of the different collections, in addition to stand out descriptions and prices of the brand's best-sellers. Along with showing pictures to keep your kit dynamic, provide links to a dropbox with high-resolution, photos that are already licensed for use in press. If the company owns cool locations like an aesthetically interesting warehouse, a farm, production facility etc, include a quick shot and description of those sites. Journalists often like to tour unique facilities for industry insider stories and including these can help spark an idea for an on-location shoot. Make sure to include any attention-grabbing metrics. If you're a podcast, include your listeners. If you're a brand, include your sales or revenue if you can. Finally, have a contact email for any press requests. It can be that same press email from your press page or you can give them the email of the CMO, publicist or co-founder for boutique brands.
Assuming you have most of this information and content already, putting together a quality media kit can take a couple of hours. I always recommend taking a step away from the draft and coming back to it in a different mindset to make sure you love everything you included. This will be your presentation to journalists and editors who in-turn, could introduce you to the world. You obviously want to put your best foot forward. As for programs to create a media kit, if you're well-versed in Photoshop or LightRoom, feel free to use those or similar design program. If I just spoke Greek to you, Google Presentation or PowerPoint will work just fine. Pick a complimentary theme to your brand design and keep the lines aesthetically pleasing. It's better to have a longer media kit than one that looks like a page from "I Spy".
Once you have a media kit, reach out to journalists you've worked with in the past, know in your network or have connected with on twitter. Check in to see how they're doing and send along your new media kit to show them you're ready for lights, camera, action!
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