What’s the Fire about Media Kits?

I thought I’d go straight to a third-party source who can explain why there is a need for a media kit. These savvy marketing tools are not exclusive to huge organizations or corporations. Enjoy the read!

Five Ways To Create A Media Kit

By Joanna L. Krotz

Desktop technology and electronic options offer so many high-quality and affordable ways to showcase your business that choices for building a contemporary media kit are downright dizzying.

You must decide what’s appropriate in graphics and style, print and digital media, messaging and content. You must figure out how to position the company in one compact package that meets the varying needs of press, stakeholders, investors, suppliers, customers and more.

To help sort it out, here’s step-by-step advice from veteran public relations and marketing gurus that will guide you in developing a relevant, up-to-speed media kit.

1. Cover the conventional basics. The balancing trick, of course, is to create an easy-access, handsome presentation that still encapsulates enough detail to satisfy serious interest. Essential elements in any kit, says publicist Julia Tanen, whose agency is based in Franklin, Mass., include:
• Company overview or history
• Product or services sheets
• Press releases — “not too many, three at most, and one should be have a new, fresh-minted date”
• Key executive bios
• Fact sheets or FAQs — typically industry or company background information or data.

Optional extras might include testimonials or product reviews, tips sheets that offer industry context or surveys, a recent article or trade write-up, a calendar of appearances or conferences if it’s relevant and, perhaps, a list of media appearances or industry speeches.

“We do not recommend story angle sheets,” says Tanen. “Why would an editor want to think you are sharing all of your story angles with everyone else?”

2. Choose brand-appropriate, consistent packaging. You always want to match marketing materials to the personality of the company. If you produce chocolate chip cookies, don’t settle on a sober Wall Street image. Find something light-hearted and delicious.

You also want all material to look consistent. “Build all your marketing outreach materials together,” including marketing collateral, Web site, stationery and more, suggests Rob Hecht, a New York City new media publicist. The entire package should look and feel first-rate — not slick, mind you, but impressively put together, standout and solid.

There are several production choices. You can create materials for kits and other marketing with desktop publishing programs like Publisher. You can outsource the kit and other marketing needs to a graphics designer who works with your in-house marketer or copywriter. Or you can hire an outside writer and designer for the entire package.

Obviously, costs vary widely depending on your production method, paper and creative talent. Julia Tanen suggests $1,500 to $5,000 (for about 50 kits) would cover most options, plus add the one-time writing and design costs.

3. Decide on digital and print options. Besides a print kit, you ought to weigh how much and what category of information and materials should be electronic or Web-based. That will depend on your products, your industry’s practices and the audiences you’re targeting. It’s a judgment call. Just remember that when it comes to electronic versions of your kit, such as USB pocket drives, memory sticks, CDs and DVDs, you must be canny about how much information you provide.

Too often, marketers overwhelm browsers with an avalanche of facts and background in media kits, presumably in order to look serious. In addition, now that electronic media are so affordable, many marketers simply copy and paste everything they’ve developed. But if you don’t invest time and money in getting the messaging and packaging right, outsiders won’t understand your company and investors or customers may simply walk.

For digital versions, remember that less is always so much more. Any investor or big-deal buyer who wants more information will certainly pick up the phone.

Consider these tricks of the trade for electronic media kit resources:
• Make sure an online media or newsroom has a link on the site’s home page and that it’s prominent and convenient on every Web page.
• If your company is knowledge- or news-based, an RSS feed can work well. “Journalists now start research for a story by doing a search online,” points out Sally Falkow, whose PressFeed firm, based in Pasadena, Calif., provides RSS content services. Besides adding an RSS content feed, she suggests providing a press page that offers bios and other material for download.
• “Include high-resolution, digital photos, high-resolution digital logo symbols and recent press releases in the media room of your Web site,” says Drew Gerber, founder of online PR firm Wasabi Publicity.
• Start a blog, feed it often and include a link to the kit on the blog home page. (For more on how blogs build business, see this story.

4. Include a call to action. The kit should provide some clear call to further action that will motivates a browser or recipient to get in touch with you, says Maria Barraza, at Nickerson PR in Wayland, Mass. “Make it highly visible.”

Again, depending on your industry and audience, this can cover a range of possibilities, including:
• “Review samples, DVD or in-person demos,” says Kemi Chavez, at InDemand Books, a marketing agency in Elizabeth, Colo.
• Reports or proprietary surveys or analysis
• An on-site visit to assess needs or solutions
• An informational interview or phone call
• A sales call

If you’re not sure what to emphasize, take a look at competitor media kits to gauge what your smart points of difference might be.

5. Stay timely. “Issues and offerings change frequently so we update client kits every six weeks or as events warrant,” says Margo Carmichael Lester of The Word Factory, a PR agency in Carrboro, N.C.

Not only should you routinely rotate in new press releases and updated company news, but you should also check all online links so every click always works.

It’s worthwhile to benchmark what’s working and what’s not every so often. You can informally survey longtime customers and friends about kit material, ask for comments from online visitors or set up a focus group of company stakeholders.

Finally, whatever your cash flow, do not — repeat — do not cheap out. More than likely, a media kit will form a prospective customer or reporter or investor’s first impression of you and the company. It will pay to get it right.

Joanna Krotz
Joanna L. Krotz writes about small-business marketing and management issues. She is the co-author of the “Microsoft Small Business Kit” and runs Muse2Muse Productions, a New York City-based custom publisher.

For customer support options, tailored business advice, and a single point of access for Microsoft’s small-business solutions, see the Microsoft Small Business Center home page.

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