The phrase “Press Kit” makes me think of John Oliver, who might describe it as “A collection of digital files that has nothing to do with ‘press’ or ‘kit.’” As with so many other concepts whose names have long outlived their actual meaning, the press kit is a staple of public relations that has changed dramatically in the last decade or so.
Until about the year 2000, a press kit was a thick paper folio that contained printouts of company press releases, photos, executive bios and the like. Its contents would be shared with “typesetters” who would send the material “to press” on massive Goss Newsliner presses. Today, not so much. The modern press kit is completely digital and invariably housed on a web page. However, its essential contents and purpose are the same.
What is a press kit? A press kit is a collection of public relations assets that aid a reporter in covering a company or individual in the media. While a press kit may once have been mailed or handed out physically, today it’s a URL emailed to reporters. A press kit typically contains some or all of the following items:
- Recent press releases—The press kit should at least have the most recent press release, the one being discussed in media outreach at the moment. It’s a good idea, though, to let reporters see earlier announcements so they can get a sense of the company’s narrative.
- A company history or personal bio—Reporters may be able to write more in-depth coverage if they have access to rich background on the company or person at the center of the news. This might comprise the short “boilerplate” company description along with a longer form telling of the company story. For a celebrity or author press kit, the bio might go into detail on the person’s background and path to success.
- A written backgrounder on the news of the day—This is a detailed explanation about the news of the day and why it matters. It’s a supplement to the press release, which is probably more succinct. In some cases, the backgrounder can be like a pre-written article the reporter can publish with a few edits or his or her own. There is no set length for a backgrounder, but it could be between 500 and 2,000 words.
- Photos of key people or other subjects of the news—If you want news coverage to feature photos of the people discussed in your news, you should include digital photos of them in the press kit, along with suggested captions.
- Other digital image assets—Include logos and graphics that are relevant to the news and covering the company.
- Videos—If videos can help tell the story, include them as well. These could take the form of YouTube links.
- Media contacts—It’s important to give reporters a very easy way to connect with you if they have questions. A media contact list should be part of the press kit
- Supporting materials—If you have further supporting research or related news links, include those in the press kit. For example, if your news relates to a federal government report, add a link to the report to the press kit.
These are a few of the core elements of a press kit. You don’t have to have all of them, but it you want good media coverage, you can us the press kit to deliver as much information to reporters as possible. This makes their job easier and it helps them cover your story the way you want.