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A Press Release, A Media Kit and A Jug of Wine

I've spent the entire weekend working on the media kit for my book, and I've realized that though I spend a lot of time writing and talking about press releases and about how to get free publicity for your business, I don't really talk about media kits much. I have a full report (Jump-Start Your Publicity!) I give away with subscriptions to my ezine. That report gives a really in-depth explanation of what a media kit is and how to use one, along with how to develop and use a targeted media list to get the most "horsepower" out of your promotion efforts. But I generally don't devote much time in my articles to this powerful technique. So here we go, talking about media kits. Let me know if you find this discussion useful and if you would like to see more articles like this one.

What is a media kit and how do you use it? Basically, it's just what it sounds like--a "kit," or set of materials, to tell the media about you. At the minimum it should contain a company profile (a "bio" of the company), a bio of you, and a company fact sheet with more detailed information. Ideally, it will have much more information, including a sample product if possible, a promotional item, and clips of previous media coverage. It's all enclosed in an attractive pocket folder and sent to the reporter or editor, along with a personal letter, on the first contact. Obviously, you can't send a media kit to 3,000 reporters; for this technique you'll want to target 30 or so media outlets that are especially suited to your story.

You'll slant your media kit slightly differently if your goal is to be interviewed, than if your goal is to have your press releases printed. To get your press release printed, make your press release the centerpiece of your media kit and have everything else support it. To get interviewed, include as much information about you and your company as possible, including possible interview questions and interesting facts that provide "angles" for a story.

The purposes of a media kit are to get the editor's attention, to demonstrate that you have something that is worthy of media attention, and to provide "fodder" for a piece on you and your company. These all work together to form one overarching purpose, which is to get media coverage for you and your company.

Here are the minimal elements that should be in your media kit. I'll follow this with a list of additional items you might include, and briefly explain what I have in my own media kit.
  • Business Profile - This is a quick overview or "company bio" of your business, 250 words or so, that explains who you are, what you do, and why you're different than your competitors.

  • Your Bio - This is a summary of your professional experience. Tell it like a story. How did you get started in this business? What do you like? What do you dislike? What's your goal for your company? Write like you're telling a customer about you as a business owner.

  • Company Fact Sheet - This is the basic who, what, when, where and how of your company, but it can be much more than that. You can list highlights of your business, talk about the "little known facts" I mentioned in the profile, give statistics....basically, put in whatever facts you think are both interesting and relevant to your customers, who are the final consumers of this information (you hope).
If your media kit contains all of that, you'll do fine. But there are more elements you can include to liven it up a little. Here's what I have in mine, in addition to the business profile, bio and fact sheet:
  • Frequently Asked Questions: These are questions (with the answers) that you can answer in an interview.

  • Testimonials: I have some testimonials now, and I have a few more promised. I put these on a sheet of letterhead and included them in my press kit. I'll update this as I get more endorsements, reviews and testimonials.

  • Articles: I have a couple dozen articles, some published, some not yet published. I chose three of my best short articles and included them in my media kit to demonstrate what my book is about and give a sample of my writing skills.

  • Book Excerpt: This won't apply to everyone, of course, but I am an author, so I included a printed copy of my book excerpt, including a "book cover." This was a little thick to staple so I used a nice square or "regal" paper clip to hold it together.

  • Review Copy of the Book: Again, this won't apply to everyone, but I also had CDs made with a review copy of my book and my free email course, "Expert Marketing." Finished with a nice label, these CDs serve as a "free book" and also give me one more nice piece to put in my media kit.

  • Business Card: Always include your business card. I print my own, so that I can produce full-color cards.

  • Promotional Item: If your budget allows, include a small promotional item. Mousepads are nice and relatively cheap; keychains are good, too, as are pens. Buy the best you can afford, or don't buy anything; "cheap" items will make you look bad.

  • Copies of previous press coverage: I don't have any previous press coverage (the book is brand-new, remember), but when I get some, I'll add it to my media kit.

  • Photo: I had copies made of the best photo of me and enclosed one in each media kit. This is not just to add a personal touch; if they have a photo, they'll often use it with the story.

  • Press Release: Don't forget your press release! I enclosed my release in the media kit, right in the front of the folder and outside the pockets, so it would be seen.

  • Letter: Always write a cover letter. This is a targeted list, so you should know what kinds of stories this reporter or editor is interested in. In your cover letter, explain how you can provide that kind of story.

  • Folder: Enclose everything in a nice pocket folder. Use the nice glossy ones, not the cheap paper ones your kids take to school.
And that's basically it. A targeted list and a good media kit. Add those to your publicity arsenal (which should consist mainly of a really great press release) and you're well on your way to all the publicity you deserve.

About the Author:
Angie Dixon is the author of MarketWrite: Harness the Power of Words & Boost Your Sales Online. Get a free report, Jump-Start Your Publicity! when you subscribe to her ezine, Powerful Words.

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