HELP: I Need a Press Kit!

A press kit is an essential press relations tool. While it can be used to support a special event or promotional activity, it is most helpful in strategically positioning an organization or product. On a website, the "press room" is the on-line equivalent of the traditional press kit.

More expansive and educational than a press release, a press kit/room includes a variety of supporting materials from fact sheets to photographs. Their purpose is to provide a media contact with a plentiful source of current and archived information from which stories can be created.

Traditional press kits are usually presented in a custom binder or portfolio with the name, address, phone number and logo of the organization on the cover. On-line press rooms often contains links to pages which may also be reached from other areas of the site. Depending on the industry, most companies use a combination of the two to meet the needs of the press.

It's important to regularly update press kits.

A press kit can include any or all of the following items:

? "Press releases" are the most common press communication tool. In a press kit, only current releases should be included. On-line you have the luxury of providing a press release archive to assist reporters in developing stories.

? "Backgrounders" may take several different forms and will typically support your position, mission, goals, history and/or track record. Research or article abstracts and fact sheets are two common backgrounder styles.

? A "Fact sheet" provides an "at a glance" bulleted overview of the organization. It is a bullet list of the organization's activity, key employees, services or products, etc.

? A "Calendar of Events" is self-explanatory.

? "Bio's" of significant leaders or key players within the organization or, if it's an event, the celebrity attraction.

? A "Reviewer's Guide" is important, especially if you are going to have your product included in a round-up with competitive products. It can cover your products strengths and weaknesses against the competition's in a factual manner. Or it can just cover your company's technical points.

? Photos can accurately present the impact of your programs and services. Make them interesting, pertinent, and personal. Avoid boring "check passing" events. In a traditional press kit, black and whites can be used in a 3 by 5 or 5 by 7 inch format. Color photos are best provided in a transparency or slide format. For website use, photos should be made available in quickly downloadable compressed .gif, .tiff or .jpeg files.

? Position statements are helpful, particularly if your organization has a political direction.

? A "Quote Sheet" provides five or six significant quotes that are approved for media use. It allows the reporter to flesh out a story without having to interview a lot of people.

? "Brochures and newsletters" provide a reporter with "another look" at your organization. It is typical to include one or more issues of your corporate newsletter in a press kit.

? It is useful to include samples of previously published articles ("clips") organization or programs to provide credibility and demonstrate the news-worthiness of your organization's activities. With an on-line press room, you can provide links to the media's own press page or provide a copy of the article on your own site. If you chose to do the latter, you MUST receive permission to reprint the article.

? Media should always be provided with an easy means with which to contact you. Make sure to include a phone number where they can contact you after business hours.

? Annual reports provide valuable background information.

Remember, the purpose of a press kit is to let the outside world into the inner workings of your organization. Paint a picture. Tell your story. And do it all with your audience's listening in mind. Speak to their listening. Do they want to see your experience? Are they more interested in finding out your credentials? Or how well known you are in your community? When you are clear on what your audience wants to see from you, you can mix and match the above ingredients for maximum media coverage.

Monikah Ogando is President & CEO of Ogando Associates, Inc., a business consulting and coaching firm that works with start up and expanding businesses to implement action driven and results oriented strategies for profitability and a rewarding company culture. You can reach Monikah by email, [email protected].

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