When people are talking about your business, people are visiting your business website, and people are buying from your business. That's a great chain of events for any company. But how, exactly, do you get things started? How do you get people talking about your business? You could run a big social media campaign. You could start a few Pay Per Click ads. But there's a more traditional way to generate hype that many small businesses neglect: The media. Imagine your busy workload as a small business owner—and double it. That's about what most media professionals feel like on a daily basis. So how do you break through all the story ideas they face every day and get them to run something about your business? You have to make information about your company easily accessible, so it easy that it fits into a busy day. And you do that with a press kit. Intrigued? Here's how to create a press kit for your business that kicks off all that talk with some media hype.
Start with the right knowledge: What is a press kit? What is a press kit?
Reporters are busy—they don't have time to dig for information about your company, and they may not even know about your company. A press kit gives media outlets easy information about your company, all in one place, no digging around required. By making the knowledge easily accessible, you increase the chances of getting a media outlet to publish information about you. What is a press kit? That depends—there's no hard and fast rule about what should and what should not be included in a press kit. The best press kit for your business may include an entirely different set of items that the best press kit for another type of business. That said, there are a few items that are commonly found in many press kits, including:
- A company overview. This is you detail how and when your company got started, what your company does. In short, it's a summary of your business.
- Biographies. This is where you detail the information about the people that make up your company. Bios should be brief but include basic information like what degree you have and where you're from. Bios should be included for the top executives—in the case of many small businesses, that might just be you.
- Press releases. What's going on at your company right now? Press kits are usually sent with a press release that answers why your company should be in the news in the first place—like a grand opening, a new location, a sales goal or charitable work your company has done, to name a few ideas.
- Graphics and other media. Publications often like to have an image or a video clip to go along with what they publish about your company. Send along a logo they can use or a photo of your location. Online and televised media outlets may also be interested in videos, like a video interview with the business owner, or audio clips, particularly if your company is music-based.
- An FAQ page. Find out what people are asking about your company, or make a list of the questions you most recently received.
- Contact information. Every press kit should include details such as the phone number, website address and physical location (if there is one). It's also a good idea to specifically name a media contact—that's who you want to handle any follow-up calls.
Those are a few of the basics of what's inside a press kit—but don't be afraid to get creative. Send over details on a recent project or detail a recent achievement. Quote and reference what other recognizable media outlets have said about your company.
Think like a journalist when writing your press kit
Put aside your business-owner's thinking cap just for a moment. To really put together the best press kit, you have to think like a journalist, not a business owner. Pretend you're writing a story about your business, but have no knowledge of your business. What are some of the things you'd want to know? Jot down a few answers to those questions to start brainstorming your press kit. Journalists don't ask just one question and call it good. News articles are based on these types of questions:
- Who? Who started the business? Who's running it currently? What's interesting about them as a person?
- What? What is the company doing? What is this particular business doing differently than every other business? What are they doing currently?
- When? When did the company open? When are they moving/hosting an event/etc.?
- Where? Where is the business located? Where is the business owner from?
- Why? Why does the business do what they do? Why did the business owner choose to start a business?
From the answers you're jotting down, you'll be able to pinpoint just what to include in your press kit so that reporter gets the big picture. Any item that may help answer those questions professionally and concisely is welcome.
Highlight your company in your press kit—but in the right way
Once you have the right mindset, it's time to start building your press kit and creating (or gathering) the parts that will go into it. But as you are writing that overview, that bio sheet or that press release, you can't just simply highlight your business—you have to highlight your business in a way that makes news outlets want to share your information. That's the key to building a press kit that doesn't get tossed in the recycling bin (whether physical or electronic). But what's going to make the media get excited about your company? There's one more question reporters ask: So what? Or, why does this matter to our readers/followers/listeners? Thankfully, there's more than one way to make your business matter to the media and ultimately to their followers: Make it personable. The media would often rather write or broadcast stories about people rather than a business. So, there's a new business. So what? There's a new online business created by a cancer survivor selling hats. A local college drop out has built his own business from the ground up and now employs a hundred people. Already, in just a sentence, that's much more compelling than simply announcing a new business. Pinpoint something about you or the people behind your company to make your press kit personable. Make it relevant. Reader's of the Detroit Free Press doesn't want to read about a new business that just opened its doors in Anchorage, Alaska. To get noticed by the media, your press kit needs to be relevant. Often, that means having a local connection and submitting to local media outlets. But there are other ways of being relevant too. If you're donating a portion of each sale to the latest natural disaster, that's relevant—base a press release inside your kit on that. Make it newsworthy. Media outlets don't want to publish yesterday's news. A good strategy for making your press kit matter is to include a press release about a timely event. Maybe your business just opened its doors. Maybe you're moving to a new location. Maybe you just reached a sales goal. Maybe you just added new jobs to the local economy. Whatever it is, highlighting a recent or upcoming event is also a good way to grab some attention.
Revise, revise, revise your press kit's content
Once you've built a draft of each element in the press kit, highlighting your company in a personable, relevant or newsworthy way, take a step back. Put the press kit aside for a few days until you can read it again with a fresh mind. Read through each piece and check for errors, but don't just stop at circling spelling mistakes. Look for things you may have left out, or perhaps something you included that should have been left out. Remember, journalists are busy professionals so you want the information to be presented in a concise way. If you can, ask for a second opinion and have another set of eyes read through everything.
Make your press kit accessible
Most press kits today are electronic—that way, the information about your company is easily searchable instead being filed away in a cabinet (or worse, the recycling bin). Make sure all of the files in your kit can be opened on any computer. Preserve your format by saving any text documents as a PDF. For graphics, JPEG is the most accessible file type, though it's a good idea to include a .eps file if you have one, or your logo in both a high-resolution file and a lower resolution file for the web. Then, upload the press kit to your webpage. It's best if you dedicate an entire page for the press kit, though it may also find a nice home on your About page. Instead of uploading the entire kit at once in a ZIP file, include each file separately with a short description. That way, members of the media can download just what they need. It's also a good idea to include a statement regarding the use of your press kit. State, briefly, something like “the following material may be used for editorial and [business name] promotional purposes only.” You want the media to feel comfortable using your logo along with any story they run, but you don't want another business to steal your logo either.
Get your press kit noticed
So, your press kit is finally online. Great. But remember that bit about the journalist being busy professionals? They don't sit around searching the internet for new press releases. To get their attention, it's best to reach out to them directly. If you included a press release about a recent event, email the press release along with a link to the complete electronic press kit. If you don't have a press release, you can simply write a letter introducing yourself and pointing out the new resource for members of the media. Take the time to find a direct contact at each media outlet you'd like to target; ideally, find out their name too and address it to them directly. To keep your message from heading straight to the trash, use that highlighting feature in your subject line. In other words, including what makes it personable, relevant or newsworthy in the subject. A press kit is a good way to kickstart media hype about your company, as well as make information easy to find whenever a member of the media happens to venture by your company's website. But to stand out among all the other press kits, you need to think like a journalist and highlight your company in the right way, then revise to make it perfect, upload it online to make it accessible, and reach out to make it noticed.