I get to sit on both sides of the media kit divide. I develop them for clients. And I receive them from organizations hoping for coverage in our blog.
We see a lot of press kits/media kits (these days, the terms are pretty much used interchangeably) that could really use some love.
Yes, you need a media kit:
There are lots of ways beyond sending out a media release to drive media coverage. But a good media kit is critical – you have to be able to give them content they can use when they reach out.
We’ve used media coverage to help land investment, sponsorship, endorsement and distribution deals. The right media coverage can be a driver of action and change for your organization.
But only if you can attract media attention and then give the media what they need to run with your story.
What needs to be in your media kit:
1. Great broadcast quality high-definition video
2. Great high-resolution pictures of product and key people
3. Any additional art, for example, high-res logos etc.
4. Media release
5. FAQ, Fact Sheet, Backgrounder and One Page
7. Interviews – Q & A on video
Have an awesome video
Every media outlet relies on strong visuals now. Even radio. Most media organizations are repurposing content for their web channels so if you have strong video, you’re covering two channels with one.
But there are other reasons why video is important. People remember things that they see and hear much more than things they read or only hear. Video is among your most powerful tools. We’ve driven national stories out of things people said wouldn’t go anywhere just by having a super strong video.
Your video needs to be worthy of broadcast. That means it needs to:
1. Have great b-roll to pull from. B-roll is visually stimulating video that work well with an announcer talking over it:
1. The video needs to have ambient sound from the event or the circumstance. It can even have music, but at least some of your video (the b-roll portion) should not have any talking. They can’t run someone talking under an announcer talking and they won’t run video of someone with their lips moving and nothing coming out
2. Footage must be high definition since stations no longer broadcast in analogue.
3. Video must keep moving. Television shows cut to a new angle on average every 3 seconds or so. Our brains are accustomed to movement within scenes. Your video needs to do the same.
4. Only feature materials you have the right to use.
2. Everything and everyone needs to be cleared.
3. You don’t need to have secured broadcast rights – that’s not necessary for editorial.
4. But you do need to have waivers signed for anyone in the videos
5. Ensure you have the rights for any pictures, music and any other asset you might use.
6. Have compelling scenes or fragments of 15 to 30 seconds that can be pulled and run to help forward your point on their own without any explanation or set up. By way of example, this video about childhood cancer we did gave media lots to work with both in terms of b-roll and in terms of ready-made clips they could pull to frame our story.
7. Your video should tell a story and not just list facts or tell people what you want them to learn. Talking heads are boring and not media friendly.
7. On Camera Q and A:
1. This is shot as if done by a television station
2. It lets a television or video outlet run your answers cutting in their anchor asking the questions
3. You additionally need to provide the questions that their anchor should ask with the video in an accompanying document
4. You can shoot it as:
1. a double ender (in which case your executive speaks directly into a camera as if it is being done via satellite, which excuses the likely discrepancy between your set and theirs)
2. an over the shoulder which is the more accepted angle but might leave your set and theirs looking incongruous
3. you can provide both
5. Q and A video like this isn’t as important as your storytelling video is but still useful if you have time and resources. At last year’s CES, the largest consumer electronics tradeshow in the world, I was asked for this piece a number of times.
Your photos need to captivate people. They need to:
1. be high res and as big as possible. You can always make them smaller after; you can’t go back and make them bigger.
2. have energy. Wherever you can, incorporate movement and context into some of your shots. Reinforce the character and values of your brand by where and how you shoot its people. Yes, you’ll still need some more traditional shots but the ones that will capture attention and win hearts are the offbeat ones so budget time and money for some of those too.
3. not be wooden. Headshots should have a spark of humanity and personality. Try for something that gives a glimpse into who the person is without making them dismissible. It’s a delicate balance – but an important one
4. have shots available in PNG, JPEG and, where appropriate, also EPS, particularly for product shots.
5. ensure you have some product shots on a white background and close up. Get a variety of angles that will look good on Amazon and in the pages of a magazine. Again, the highest resolution and biggest photos you can manage are critical to anything print.
6. speak to your personas, in other words, the people you serve. Think of who you’re trying to reach and create pictures that will speak to them
Other art and logos
Having other art can be really helpful:
1. You need to be able to provide your logo, preferably in EPS format but also have in PNG and JPEG.
2. Use user generated (cleared of course) materials where you can for anything product related.
1. It’s one thing to show them what your product created in the studio with hours of fiddling but media (and everyone else too!) love to see what real people have created.
2. Sharing the work of real people who have created or accomplished something using your product is also an amazing opportunity to do some community building.
3. Make sure they’re comfortable sharing their story with media, though, before using.
Most people call them press releases but historically press releases were just for print outlets, not other media whereas media releases spoke to all media. Boy, I could write a book on what makes a great media release (now THERE’S an idea) but for now, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Your headline needs to be engaging and give clear meaning to what the media release is about.
2. Your opening line needs to completely captivate the journalist and give them a reason to keep reading. You need some kind of angle that is unique and newsworthy.
3. You need links in your release to your online media kit, your website, bios and anything else of interest.
4. You need to get the critical who, what, where and when out in the first paragraph.
5. Make sure you have a NOTE TO EDITOR in big block letters either at the very top of your release or at the bottom under the release itself that tells editors what assets (art, video, interviews etc.) are available to them.
6. Technically, your quote should go in the third paragraph and your endorsement quote should go in the 5th.
1. quotes should not be boring and of the “We are pleased to announce” variety. Nobody cares that you are pleased. Stand out by having meaningful quotes that are memorable and sound conversational. Journalists love using those.
2. endorsement quotes are awesome. Having an influencer say great things about you is so much more impressive than you saying great things about yourself.
7. Keep it to a page where you can, although, if you do have a lot of information or some compelling background then by all means go over. But no one wants two pages of fluff.
8. Speak in active, short sentences. People trust what they don’t have to think about. Don’t make anyone have to work hard to understand what you’re trying to say.
9. Don’t use acronyms or jargon.
10. Make sure you have a boilerplate. It’s the last paragraph that sums up who you are, what you do, why you’re different, what you stand for, etc. Most feel like they were written decades ago and use meaningless, empty jargon. Yours should sound human and offer a compelling story.
11. Make sure your contact information is easily found.
1. On a printed page or digital copy on a jump drive, it’s often better to have it at the top so journalists can refer back to it quickly.
2. By email, I put my info at the bottom because their most likely action is to hit respond meaning they know how to reach me easily. Also, you have such a short moment to grab their interest, that top real estate is best used by some compelling copy.
Use story. Old-fashioned media releases were all about facts but a compelling, short story about how the product came to be or how it saved a real user from some problem they were having gets attention. What you are saying must be true – don’t confuse story with lies. But a media release just filled with facts will likely languish.
FAQ, Fact Sheet, Backgrounder and One Page:
Media love being able to pick up fast facts and answers quickly. FAQ’s, Fact Sheets, Backgrounders and One Pages all do that in different ways. There are similarities between them and differences. Sometimes you only need one of these. Sometimes you need all four.
Let’s talk about what all of these need to do and then just look at the differences of each one and when and how you might use them. The goal of each of these is to help media better understand. What they all have in common:
Like in everything in good PR, skip the jargon.
Assume whomever reading it doesn’t know your industry and explain everything in plain English.
Take note of questions you’ve been asked by other journalists, customers, investors and stakeholders and provide those facts/answers where appropriate.
Very much like it sounds, an FAQ presents frequently asked questions along with their answers. This can and should be very conversational and helpful. You can even position it as an interview with an executive which gives media more quotes to work with.
A fact sheet bullet points key facts media should know. It often includes technical specs (although you can have another sheet with nothing but technical specs) and other nuts and bolts facts about the product, the company, an issue or all of the above, for example, in a product recall.
A good backgrounder gives greater insight into your company, your product or the issues your raise or the reason your services are so vital. You can link to studies and go more in-depth into the history that has lead up to his moment.
Ironically, not every One-Page is a one page but you should try and keep yours to one page if you can. It is a high-level look at the company or a product and gives people the most important things they need to understand in order to write about you, a product or an issue. It’s essential in television show launches and, in those cases, usually beautifully designed.
Bios should bring your executives to life. It should tell a story. Most established brands write the most God-awful, boring bios about their executives and puff them up to the point where they feel insincere and removed.
While it goes against convention and what many would say is best practice, I often encourage writing bios in the first person. It builds an affinity and a relationship more quickly, and particularly startups and other disruptors can afford to play with artifice in setting themselves apart.
Make your media kit available:
1. On your website
2. On a branded jumpdrive – yes, media still love to get those at events; it makes their lives easy.
Make sure it has your logo and contact info on it so they can quickly identify what’s yours.
At the end of a tradeshow, for example, they’ll throw everything down onto the bed. It’s an easy reminder of your story. If you just tell them about it and give them a URL to go to, you’re going to have to compete with dozens of others to be the few that jump to the front of his or her memory.
3. At least pieces of it should be available in paper form at media events and tradeshows. The number of times in the last year that media have thanked me profusely for being the only person on a tradeshow floor able to actually hand them a press release is staggering.
4. In Brandfolder. We love its elegance and simplicity and how beautifully it lays everything out including your videos, pictures and bios. You can also include your boilerplate and other stand-alone bits of messaging copy for media to pickup and run with.
5. In Dropbox.
There you have it:
Don’t feel overwhelmed. Pick away as you can.
Start with a media release, compelling pictures and, when you’re ready, a great video that gives insight into your values through effective storytelling. Build the rest as you can and be fearless in your storytelling and rigorous in your truthfulness.
Give the media what they need to tell your story. They can’t do it without you.