Anatomy of a Media Kit
by Carol White
“Anatomy of a Media Release” (September) stimulated some queries about what goes into a media kit and when to use it. So what are the possible contents for a 2011 media kit, and when do you use which portions?
Media kits have changed a lot in the last few years, since doing business online has become more and more common. The “old-fashioned” printed (and expensive) media kit is nearly, but not totally, extinct. As Kate Bandos of KBS Promotions has commented, “No one seems to want them anymore, and this has been confirmed by media during panels at Publishing University the last few years.”
Roots in the Way It Was
Here’s a look at my old-fashioned print media kit.
A standard sleek-looking folder houses the kit materials, and I affix a postcard version of my book’s cover on the outside.
In the pocket on the left, I put copies of two, three, or four media pieces about myself and my business.
Also in the left pocket, I provide other material that a media person might like. For instance, I often include my “10 Tips” or a study guide.
Either my book or a book cover rests on top of all that, along with a fun item or items. I use a personalized pencil (start planning your trip!), a refrigerator magnet (a reminder of your trip goal), and of course a bookmark with my book’s basic information on it.
The right-hand pocket of the kit folder holds pieces that support my platform—press releases, author bios, sample book reviews, interview questions, and so on
On top of those, I provide a cover letter stressing the benefits for media people of using my expertise and information in their business—the “What’s in it for you” material—and I put my business card in the cutout designated for that.
You’ll notice that all the pieces have a common look and feel, supporting the branding of my book business.
To complete the package, I add my company’s mailing label to an envelope that goes with the design and color of my folder and stick the folder inside.
Translated for Today
All these pieces should be in the media room on your Web site, available for easy downloading by anybody in the media, along with your book cover (high and low resolution for print and online), an author photo, any other photos or illustrations that might be used in coverage, and relevant audio and/or video material.
So now you have a collection of items both in print and online. When do you use what?
That depends on what you are doing. Some considerations are:
• What type of media opportunity is it—broadcast, print, Internet?
• How does this media person want to receive information?
• How does your content fit with the media person’s requirements?
• Is this project something other than a direct media opportunity?
You must make your pitch in a timely manner, using the contact method that the person you are pitching prefers. Paul Krupin of Direct Contact PR contends that a pitch to online media contacts can be of any length—what matters is content. Your job is to make the media person fall in love with your subject and to make it easy for the media to use your material. Include pictures in your pitch, slot in a short bio, give tip information—do whatever a particular media person might find useful. If you use links, make the selected information just one click away.
To learn what a particular situation calls for, listen carefully to what the media person says or implies about needs. For a broadcast journalist, a list of interview questions might be appropriate, and so might a short video or audio clip of an interview.
As in all media and publicity work, knowing what to use, when to use it, and how to present it can make the difference between sitting on the sidelines while more adept marketers get the coverage, and putting your own best foot forward to garner the coverage for yourself. Often, what matters most isn’t who has the best book or information, but who has the best presentation and makes it easiest for the media to showcase material about a book.
What follows is a close look at one media kit element—Suggested Interview Questions.
When the Time-honored Kit Still Works Well
Sometimes a beautifully done print media kit is a credibility builder, and it can be especially useful when you are beginning to build a relationship or establish a long-term commitment surrounding your book.
For example, when you are:
• meeting with a distributor at BEA that might carry your book
• contacting an organization about being a spokesperson.
• approaching a magazine or e-zine about becoming a regular contributor
• contacting a company about buying your book in bulk for its clients or customers
• working with an organization about speaking at its annual convention, when it’s often essential to
provide a print media kit that emphasizes previous presentations you have made and includes a
video of you in action