The press kit is among the necessary and most useful tools in public relations.
Also known as media kits, well-developed press kits provide a one-stop information source for reporters. They are essential to pitching story ideas to journalists. They offer a quick and easy way for journalists to understand your organization or its products and their value propositions – and they provide an unmatched vehicle to deliver more comprehensive information about the organization and its products. They also provide PR staff opportunities to engage reporters.
By providing thorough background, a neatly packaged press kit improves the likelihood that the media will cover the organization and the product. It also helps assure factual accuracy in media stories.
“Getting mentioned by established websites allows you to borrow the trust of those publications. It gives your online store social proof when you place their logos on your website,” says Corey Ferreira, an entrepreneur and content creator at Shopify. “The result? More sales.”
Experienced media relations pros typically keep press kits on hand and ready to distribute to reporters at press conferences after media interviews with company executives, or when networking at conferences. When pitching story ideas to journalists, many PR pros include a link to the online press kit.
“Never leave a reporter hanging—especially one who’s ready to write about your company. One of the simplest ways to please any journalist, blogger, or even potential investor, is to have an easy-to-find press kit on your site,” says media and communications expert Jane K. Callahan.
Press kits are valuable for more than just media relations. Companies often send their press kits to prospective clients, advertisers, investment analysts, investors, bloggers, and anyone else who might be interested in learning about the organization.
Press kits can differ depending on the brand, intended audience and purpose. While there are no definitive rules, the best press kits provide a detailed look into the organization or the product.
Press Kits Move Online
In earlier times, a press kit meant a folder or packet of information and photographs that PR representatives handed to reporters. Companies eventually began including CDs, flash drives and giveaways emblazoned with the firm’s logo. Now, press kits are more likely to reside on the corporate website. Reporters and bloggers typically first visit the online newsroom when developing a story about an organization or brand. They also visit corporate newsrooms when writing about an industry development or business issue.
Companies may place the information in a section labeled “For the Press,” “Media Resources,” “Press Room,” “Press Resources” or “Newsroom.” Access to the digital media is not restricted to “the press;” anyone can view it, including key audiences such as investment research analysts and prospective customers.
These are the major components of a press kit. (Although we’ve used the term “company” in the component descriptions, non-profit organizations can include most all the same elements in their press kits.)
- Company overview explains what your company does, what it offers, and what differentiates it from competitors. It includes a history of the company and tells its story and mission. Providing a basic description that avoids industry jargon and clichés is the best way to help reporters and others understand the company. Financial reporters may also wish to access the company’s most recent financial reports. A succinct “elevator description” of the company will often find its way into industry stories.
- The fact sheet, which may be considered part of the company overview, is a one page, bulleted list of the most important information about the company, such as key statistics, achievements and important dates in its history.
- Biographies of the CEO, chairman, founders and other key players, including their headshots, give the company a human face and provide insight into its leadership’s vision. Brevity, perhaps a few paragraphs, is ideal. This is not the place for life stories.
- FAQs can differentiate the organization from competitors. When preparing FAQs, talking to the firm’s sales team and contact center can uncover common questions from prospective customers.
- Press releases on one or two recent newsworthy announcements are another typical press kit element. If the announcement is recent and newsworthy enough, a media outlet may publish it. When distributing press releases at a press conference or other event, it’s advisable to tailor the announcement to the theme of the event.
- News coverage of the company can provide background to journalists and establish your organization as credible and newsworthy. If your company is unwilling to pay for expensive reprint rights, you can list the media outlet, story headline, introduction or summary, and date of publication. For online press kits, you provide a brief description and link to the full article.
- Product descriptions are best when simple and succinct, allowing industry outsiders to understand them. Include a product sample if possible.
- Multimedia elements include photos of your products, perhaps a video of your operations, or a map listing the company’s location. Indicate that media outlets can publish materials without credits. Also, include a high-resolution company logo, including one with a transparent background and ensure that it is 360 dpi so it is also suitable for print.
- Contact information covers phone numbers and e-mail addresses of company media contacts. Contact information is a critical and seemingly obvious press kit element, but surprisingly some press kits lack this information. These days, the contact information can include links to your company’s social media profiles.
- Clients, especially if they are well known, help legitimize the business. Customer testimonials or product reviews are also powerful. It’s essential to obtain approval from clients to mention their name, even if you are not contractually obligated to.
Bonus tip: Media monitoring and measurement are necessary to understand the effectiveness of your media relations and overall public relations work, including press kits, blogger outreach and influencer marketing across all forms of traditional and social media. A media monitoring service can send timely email alerts when your company, products or other important terms are mentioned online. In addition, media measurement can reveal how sentiment toward your company evolves over time through sentiment analysis.
When considering media monitoring and measurement services, look for a vender that sends timely automated alerts, integrates news media and social media mentions into a single dashboard, and can incorporate customized metrics into its clients’ dashboards. Take advantage of free trials. Avoid vendors that require long-term contracts.
Online Press Kit Examples
Examining examples of outstanding electronic press kits can provide ideas and guidance, recommends David Libby, a public relations and social media marketing consultant at 2pinz.
Squarespace’s press and media page first displays its most recent press coverage. “This is great in terms of providing a chronological outlook and makes it immediately obvious what was recently covered and when,” Libby says.
The Mailchimp online newsroom starts with company announcements, followed by news coverage with PR contacts below. Mailchimp places its guidelines for its brand assets on a single concise page, with detailed instructions on how to use its name and logo. First, its name is one word with a capital M and small c. “This strategy is simple but effective as you get everything at a glance in an easily digestible format,” Libby says.
The Intercom press page first offers a short description of its service, followed by a longer “boilerplate” description, a format that’s likely helpful for hurried reporters. It provides links to downloadable assets, product screenshots, photos of top executives, other personnel and its offices, in addition to news and updates. Because of its clear layout, journalists and others can quickly find what they seek.
Treehouse, in contrast, offers its press kits and information in PDF formats for downloading below its description and media contact. “Relying on well-known external formats such as PDFs can also be an effective strategy as many people are used to working with them,” Libby says.
Bottom Line: Press kits are an essential public relations tool. Organizing comprehensive information about the organization in one location can help gain publicity for the company, provide background to a range of important stakeholders, and show the company in a favorable light to its entire range of constituencies.
This article was first published on Sept. 3, 2015, and updated on Oct. 5, 2020.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.