Media Kit: What, why and howby Tom McKay
Think of a media kit as a resume for your organization. In a nutshell, a media kit (sometimes called a press kit) is a package of materials that introduces your organization to interested parties (in this case, the media) and answers their questions about it. Your company’s marketing department can probably help you create one, or contact a freelance business writer or copywriter for assistance.
A media kit usually includes a “backgrounder” or profile, a brief but detailed look at the organization, its history, mission, what it does, who it serves, who works there, interesting facts about it, etc. It should run about a page, maybe a little longer. Remember to include the five W’s: Who, What, When, Where, Why, How. Make your backgrounder as interesting as you can. After all, the goal is to keep the reporter, producer or editor reading. Point out all the good you do, and the ways you’re unique or different from all the other similar organizations out there.
Take the highlights of that information, strip it down to a page of bullet points, and you have another ingredient of the media kit: a fact sheet. The fact sheet is meant to be scanned by a busy editor or reporter. If there’s any interest, s/he will read the profile (or so you hope). Include any interesting, fascinating factoids about the organization, its members, heritage, target market, etc.
Remember, the real goal of the media kit is to get a reporter or editor interested enough to call and do an interview.
Bios of the organization’s most important figures are another important ingredient of your media kit. Write a bio for the CEO (or in the case of a non-profit organization, the executive director) and any other prominent C-level executives (Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Information Officer, etc.) Write a bio of each officer or board member, especially if they’re well-known or might be an interesting interview for the media. You want your organization to appear to be of a certain size, but don’t go crazy and include 12 bios. Three to six is about right, fewer if yours is a small organization.
Like all the rest of these elements, print them on letterhead. Bios can be a full page long or just a paragraph or two. (They should all be about the same length.) If board members or officers are relatively well-known members of your business or arts community, be sure to mention it, both in their bio and company profile.
Photographs in your Media Kit
Most media kits also include photographs (also known as “headshots”) of these same individuals. With digital cameras and quality inkjet printers, good photographs are no longer the cost-prohibitive item they used to be. But it’s wise to hire a professional photographer. You (and the editors and producers you pitch) will be much happier with the results, and you’ll be presenting a more professional image. If they’re interested in an interview, major publications will often send their own photographer anyway, to get a photo that no one else has. Smaller media outlets, however, will depend on yours.
Press Releases and Clips
Be sure to include any press releases you’ve sent in the past year or so, and clippings (or photocopies) of any publicity you’re received in the past. Write down the name of the publication and date on each clip. Clips reassure the media that you’re legit and also enhance your status. (Yes, the media are impressed with free publicity, too!)
Story Suggestions, Sample Questions
Feel free to include story ideas and sample questions the reporter or producer might want to ask. Like everyone else, reporters love it when you do their work for them!
Include a separate page with contact information on it. Include the organization name, one or more contact persons’ names, their day and evening phone numbers. Remember, news is a 24 hour a day business, and morning newspapers mean lots of reporters work evenings. Include each contact’s email address, but only if they actually check it regularly.
In addition, post contact information on each and every piece in the kit, just in case the package gets dropped and pages go flying everywhere.
Media Kit Packaging
Many businesses print special, double-pocket folders to hold their media kit. But the media understand that you non-profits have tiny budgets, so a simple presentation folder from Staples and a cover sheet will be perfectly acceptable. Just make it a nice one.
To save money, I often advise my clients not to send out media kits unless the media has requested them. Advise the reporter or producer that you’ll be happy to provide one if they’re interested, but that you don’t want to clutter up their desks with unwanted material. As a former reporter, I can attest that more than half the unsolicited ones end up in the trash. Make sure there’s interest before spending that kind of money.
How to Respond When the Media Call
It’s important to remind each potential contact person (as well as the person who answers the phones) that calls from the media are HIGH PRIORITY, and should be answered and returned promptly and professionally. One bad experience (i.e., your contact person is unresponsive or clueless) can cause a busy reporter to toss out your info and move on to the next story. Remember, the media are swamped with press releases and media kits. Many, many organizations are vying for free publicity.
The Real Secret of Free Publicity
In everything you send the media, always try to give reporters and editors what they need: NEWS, especially news that relates to their particular viewers, listeners, or readers. Do that, and you’ll get all the free publicity you need!Questions? Need more information? Would you like a little help crafting a media kit for your company or non-profit? Contact Tom McKay at Maine Creative Services.
Tom McKay is a writer and speaker with over 20 years experience. A former Los Angeles news reporter and CBS Radio Network feature correspondent, he knows — from the inside — exactly what editors, reporters and producers are looking for. McKay is available to help your company or organization get a wealth of free publicity. Qualified organizations can contact him for a free, no-obligation consultation.© Copyright 2005 Tom McKay