Friday, October 27, 2006

Flip The Script Fridays: The Press Kit

I love how fancy this sounds. Visions of little first aid-like kits come to mind whenever I hear this word.

In truth, the press kit is much more simple than the name belies. It can be as simple as a press release, book cover, and head shot.

I know. Not much of a "kit."

It's not saving any lives or even making a boo-boo better.

But don't underestimate the importance of the press kit. It is the tool, by which, a reporter sniffs out potential articles. And for every reporter who says they don't pay a release or a press kit much mind, there are others who have followed up and covered the story.

So what, really, does a kit require to help give the reporter what they need?

When putting together a press kit, think to yourself - What can I provide this reporter that will help them form a good story without overwhelming them?

Some people try and stick everything but the kitchen sink in a press kit. And I can tell you, from being a freelancer who often gets material from PR agencies - it's a real pain to get a bunch of crap that falls out as soon as I open the folder.

Crap that doesn't much help me see the story anyway.

We'll talk about teasers, next week. Teasers can sometimes be cutesy and work. But for now, let's focus on the press kit do's and don'ts.


- Send a complete press kit when a one page press release can do the exact same thing!

- Throw a pile of papers and stuff in an envelope and call it a press kit

- Get all fancy. Reporters get these things all the time. They're fairly immune to the packaging and only want the straight dope. Yes, your hot pink folder with the electric blue writing may get noticed but not necessarily in a good way.

- Use the type of folders that require papers to be bound.

- Send via Fed Ex. It's a waste of money and truly not that urgent considering it will still end up in the news outlet's mail room.

- Send generically to "Podunk Times." Your kit may never find its proper home if you're not going to do enough homework to identify which reporter covers what you're selling.


- Include only those things that help to form a story: press release, fact sheet, bio, head shot, book cover, CD with digital files (if necessary)

- Put your info into a folder. A glossy (or not), two pocket folder will do. Ah-ha, so that's why it's called a "kit."

- Put contents in order of key info. On the left hand side have your press release by itself, on the right hand side your extras (fact sheet, cover, bio, photo). This is not a tried and true science. I say put the release on the left because we read left to right. Some say put it on the right because that's where your eye is drawn when you open a folder. Live dangerously...try both methods.

- Send in a plain white or manila envelope via regular mail

- Send your kit to the attention of a specific reporter, hopefully the one who actually covers books, new authors etc...

- Remember, that you may not always need to send a copy of the book. One of the stories you should try and place is the story about your as the author. This could save you from having to send a copy to a reporter who may not need to read it for the story you're pitching.

Next week: Teasers


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