“Do you have a press kit I could check out?”
When a journalist asks you that question, the answer needs to be “yes.”
Press kits eliminate as much of the effort that would otherwise go into journalism as possible. If you were to fall off the face of the Earth today, a reporter should be able to have a good story out tomorrow, using nothing but the information you’ve collected for them on your website.
Related: How to Be Your Own PR Machine
So, where to begin?
The fact sheet
A good place to start is the fact sheet.
Don't try to nudge the story in a particular direction or anticipate what a reporter is going to find interesting. Just lay out the building blocks and let them put the rest together themselves. That’s the press kit ethos, and the fact sheet is its purest expression.
As the name suggests, a fact sheet compiles facts: information about you, your partners, company and the market. Be thorough so they don’t have to ask follow-up questions. Be objective, so they don’t feel like they need to dig to find what you’re hiding.
Details to mention include, but are not limited to:
- Year your company was founded
- Who the founders are (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook links)
- Where it was founded
- Where it currently operates
- How many employees it has
- Other notable team members
- Names of prominent clients
- Principal investors (if already public)
- Fundraising statistics (if already public)
- Revenue statistics (if already public)
- Growth statistics (if already public)
- Major products/services, including breakdown of features
- How much those products/services cost
- When those products/services were launched
- Where those products are made (if applicable)
- What materials those products use (if already public)
- What platforms any mobile products are available on
- Overarching market statistics
Bringing Media to the media
News outlets love shiny things like pictures and videos. If you are going to provide this to a journalist, it has to be what they need: well-shot and high resolution (usually about 1MB file size).
Things to include:
- Headshots of the founders or other important company figures
- Short clips of founders/others on camera talking generally about the company
- A few pictures of the full team (or however much of it reasonably fits)
- Pictures of the office
- Pictures of your product
- Pictures/videos of your product in action
- Screenshots, if it’s an app or web product (go heavy here: screenshot every step, and let them choose which to use)
- Various versions of the company logo, including a print-quality version (about 1MB)
You might think that because we’re talking about press releases, this is your chance to put some spin on the company. It isn’t.
This part consists of copies of every press release your company has issued, along with any corresponding coverage, preferably in chronological order. There’s no need to frill it up beyond that.
You are trying to present a historical perspective of what your company has accomplished and how it has grown. That’s not spin, just context.
If your company has a mobile app, online service, beta test or anything else the journalist can play around with, make sure that its easy for them to access the demo or guest log-in.
What does all this accomplish?
If understanding the media is the key to all good public relations, then PR starts with acknowledging that a reporter’s time is a precious resource.
Consider that most journalists are working under tight deadlines. Almost all are expected to produce multiple articles a day, so they don’t have time to call you back about a blurry logo or to get the latest version of your press release.
The objective is for a press kit that is so complete and easy to use that a journalist would be able to run the article “as is.” This is even truer for bloggers or freelancers. For them, having a well-crafted press kit can be the whole difference between writing a story and not.
Either way, make the effort and expend the resources to help bridge the gap. It might not always be the determining factor in getting you press in the short run. But down the road, it will help build good relations. And that’s what smart PR is all about.