Constructing a Press Kit - dummies

By Jonathan Kranz

A press kit is a collection of written materials designed to introduce an expert or a company to the media. Often these materials are contained in an attractive folder and accompanied by a cover letter. The goal of a press kit is threefold:

  • Highlight the issues your expert can address, or that your company is involved in, be it chemical processing in South America or new techniques for bungalow construction.
  • Establish your expert’s or organization’s authority by demonstrating the depth of your company’s experience, or explaining why the expert is especially qualified — by virtue of experience, education, or abilities — to speak authoritatively on the highlighted issues.
  • Show how to use the organization’s experts by providing contact information and clarifying exactly what your person is available for, such as giving direct interviews, providing supporting information for articles, or contributing as a writer to an article.

Many of the elements you need may have already been written for other purposes — you just have to compile them. Here’s what you need:

  • A cover letter: This element introduces the person or the company and the kit, and includes the following information:

• Who the person or organization is — including name and title for a person, or a brief description of the organization. When writing for an individual, summarize the person’s unique qualifications as an expert. For instance:

Linda Terres, Ph.D., president of Brown Fields Associates, is a former Stanford University faculty research scientist specializing in environmental restoration, and has twenty-three years of experience in toxic waste removal.

• What issues the organization or expert can address and why they’re qualified to speak about them. For example:

A noted authority on petroleum waste products, Dr. Terres is recognized for her expertise on toxicity, the impact of petrochemicals on soil composition, and on the most practical methods for removing toxins and transforming polluted sites into environmentally healthy habitats.

• How your experts or organization representatives can be contacted by phone or e-mail:

To contact or interview Dr. Terres, call Lionel Taylor at (123) 456-7890.

  • A brief bio of the expert: For press kits written for individuals, summarize the person’s background information, including relevant education and experience. For the fictional Dr. Terres, this included a list of the clean-up sites she has worked on.

  • A brief description of your organization’s purpose: For company press kits, explain what your company does, why it exists, and what its goals are.
  • A list of subjects or issues your expert can address. It can look like this:
    Dr. Terres is often asked to speak on the following topics:

Identifying toxic waste sites

Developing action plans for cleanup

Working with government regulatory agencies

Understanding the science of soil restoration

  • Brochures and other collateral: For company press kits or kits written about specific issues, you may include brochures, pamphlets, fact sheets, and other collateral about relevant products, services, or issues.
  • A list of suggested questions for your expert: The beauty of this element is that it not only further articulates your expert’s authority but also places the interview in the editor’s imagination and helps her see your expert’s potential. Consider this example:
    Popular questions for Dr. Terres:

How can property buyers find out about potential environmental issues on the sites they’re considering for purchase?

How much time and money does it take to perform a clean-up?

Is government assistance available for environmental restoration?

  • A list of publications and speaking appearances: If your expert has published articles under her name or has been quoted in other articles, list the titles, publication names, and dates. You can also add dates, titles, and locations for speaking appearances at seminars, conferences, and events.
  • Lists of clients, projects, or accomplishments: Companies can include annotated lists of current and/or previous work that demonstrate their experience.
  • Case studies and testimonials: Endorsements from customers (testimonials) or brief stories about how your organization or expert helped a client (case studies) reinforce your credibility and provide the media with story ideas.
  • Samples of your expert’s work: Include articles your expert has written or case studies of projects involving your expert.
  • A photograph of your expert or your organization in action: This item may be a good idea if you’re trying to get television exposure.