Press kits are like business cards. If you don't have one, you have no way to make an introduction and no way to provide valuable information to people with whom you want to do business
A "press kit" is a collection of a few vital pieces of information that makes it easier for the media to tell your story accurately and with full details. By putting the power of your press kit to work, your company can enjoy more accurate media coverage, more exposure for story ideas, and more complete information through press coverage.
Reporters often want press kits to fact check the spelling of names and products, release dates, company history, and other important details. Press kits can also be tailored to specific events, product rollouts, and grand openings with audio, video, maps, photos and commemorative giveaways.
For years, press kits were expensive, custom-printed packets. While those types of press kits still have some limited uses, today's press kits are most likely to be found online, where they can be accessed around the clock.
While the media are one key target audience, prospective customers, partners, investors, and vendors are also likely to be looking for accurate, detailed information about your company. Press kits provide that information in an organized, easy-to-read format.
Many companies put off creating press kits. If business is good, staff may be too busy to think about a kit, especially if there is no pressing deadline. Some companies are unaware of a press kit's value, or unsure of what goes in a good kit. Still others are reluctant to make a press kit available online because they want to control access to information.
That last reason is the most dangerous. If you don't have a press kit, your company has already lost control of its information because it has waived its ability to make it easy for reporters to have accurate, updated data and to shape the story.
A good press kit helps your company put its best foot forward. It is a useful collection of information that answers questions and suggests story ideas.
A press kit is designed first and foremost for the needs of the media. Resist the urge to try to make a press kit into a sales piece. Doing that will alienate reporters who don't want to be sold and aren't buying your product. Stick to the facts and help to shape coverage by drawing attention to positives that might otherwise be overlooked.
I like this example of an online press kit at Gap, for the following reasons:
- It's cleanly designed and easy to navigate.
- It addresses bad news up front instead of hiding it under layers of links.
- It provides a nice snapshot of the company—press releases, stock price, interesting trivia.
- It provides the option to download a paper press kit.
- It offers the chance to sign up for news alerts.
- It provides a handy image library.
Some of the key elements of a press kit include executive bios, a company history, fact sheets, backgrounders, testimonials, recent speeches, recent major press releases, and information regarding recent recalls or high-profile crises (and how they are being dealt with).
Reviews, awards, story ideas, web audio and web video clips, and virtual tours can make for an interesting and interactive press kit. Posting a press kit is a reason in itself for sending out a release and inviting the press to take a look.
Take a look at a more robust press center at Coca-Cola. What I like about this site:
- Press kits for special events and products filed by type
- Well-organized information—and lots of it
- Audio-visual resources that amplify the message
- A news index to find releases by date
- Speeches and company statements
- Press contacts that aren't hidden
Once the basic pieces are in place, press kits can be customized for special events, corporate anniversaries, new-product launches, and other major occasions. Add a new fact sheet about the occasion, include fresh audio and video clips, tuck in some pertinent quotes by executives on the occasion, and perhaps include a whole or partial speech text if appropriate.
Online press kits make it easy to create lively documents, such as interactive timelines and milestones complete with audio and video. Use the technology to its best advantage to tell your story and make it compelling.
Look at the customized event-driven press kits on Verizon's media site. It's great because...
- It combines press releases with photos and video.
- It can be viewed in Spanish and English.
- The customized press kit page still has links back to all the main bios, releases, and other information.
Or look at this press kit on Verizon's store layout. It works because...
- Viewers can take a virtual tour as well as download pictures.
- You can download renderings from several perspectives, as well as display layouts.
- Users can even sign up to get updates via RSS feed.
Once your press kit is in place, it's easy to find new uses, such as including a link in the signature of your email or adding it as a line in your pitches to reporters. If a high-profile live media event—such as a press conference—arises, it's possible to convert the online documents into physical kits fairly quickly.
A press kit works for your public relations department 24/7. Hire the best publicist you'll ever get—a great press kit—and put it to work for your company today.