The Two Kits You Need for Today’s Media
Kate Siegel Bandos
Once upon a time, a release, a bio, and a black-and-white glossy photograph were enough to capture media attention. Today most media people expect and demand more—including CDs, color images, ready-to-use articles, and various kinds of Web-site material.
Reporters and producers not only appreciate but expect both a physical, printed media kit that can be quickly mailed, faxed, or overnighted to them and a complete online media kit. Certain elements are essential to both, and you may want to consider helpful extras. But remember—too much (even of a good thing) can be a turnoff.
The Elements a Good Physical Media Kit Must Have
· Main release.
· Author bio, with more detailed information on credentials and experience than the release itself could or should include.
Other usual items:
· Cover letter, personalized as much as possible for optimum impact. The letter should explain specifically how and why you think the information you are providing would work for this particular media person, and what to do to get more information.
· Sample book review. Since most media people don’t have staff to read books, let alone write original reviews, the more you do for them, the better. Remember to be objective in the review you write. Give facts, keep it short, and organize in segments so that each media outlet can pick and choose elements to use according to its particular needs.
· Data sheet (also called sell sheet, book flyer, or catalog sheet). Include the book title and subtitle, a very short author bio, a brief description of the book, the cover image, any endorsements/blurbs and information on price, binding, ISBN, and the like. When you are using your media kit to sell the book, also include an order form or information for retailers about which wholesalers have it. If the kit is going to media, include information here on how to request review copies, an interview with the author, art, and/or other material they might want to use.
· Cover photo or postcard, bookmark, or business card that shows the cover.
Additional elements to consider:
· Topical or seasonal release.
· Blurb sheet.
· Impressive article about the book and/or the author, or a review.
· Table of contents.
· “Did You Know” sheet that highlights interesting tidbits from the book (that there was a master plan to drain the Everglades was one Did You Know item for Along Florida’s Expressways by Dave Hunter from Mile Oak Publishing, Inc.).
· Sample pages, especially for books in which design is important; or, for cookbooks, sample recipes. You want to give people a good feel for the book while they’re deciding whether to ask to see the whole thing.
· Excerpts from the book, which can be plain text without design if design elements are not critical.
· Excerpts from interesting appendixes.
· Story behind the book.
· Quiz based on material in the book, with answers, and preferably some surprising information. (Ten true/false statements, including “A fat-free diet is a healthy diet” and “Taking St. John’s Wort is perfectly safe since it’s natural,” appeared in the kit we did for The College Student’s Guide to Eating Well on Campus by Ann Litt, from Tulip Hill Press. Both these statements, by the way, are false.)
· Talking points.
· Suggested interview questions (or FAQ).
· TV segment ideas for topics, fellow guests, visuals, and more.
· List of previous and forthcoming media appearances if they will make it clear that you are an experienced guest producers can rely on for a good interview.
· List of available articles for use in print or online. These can include excerpts or adaptations from the book, or be loosely related to it as long as they fit the author’s area of expertise. (For instance, Susan Foster, author of Smart Packing for Today’s Traveler from Smart Travel Press, didn’t have a section on family travel by car in her book, but she created a ready-to-use article with a set of tips about that, and it got some nice play.)
· List of what is available on your Web site.
· If you will be donating a portion of the proceeds to charity, information on the charity.
All these elements can be placed in a standard pocket folder, or a custom-made pocket folder if price is not an issue. To jazz up a standard folder, glue your front cover to the front and glue the back cover to the back, using cover overruns you have the printer do. If you have no cover overruns, you can use a color postcard with the cover image. Some people use cover overruns as mini–press kit folders, either by stapling one or two pieces inside the folded cover or by taping the bottom fold so that the releases are held inside. Others hole-punch key pieces and use a colorful ribbon to hold them together. Be original and creative, but make it easy for media people to glance quickly at all you have included.
Elements of a Good Web Site “Media Room”
· How to reach authors, publishers, and/or publicist (include several options).
· Press releases, in downloadable form and kept current. Offer versions focused on different topics and/or tailored to different audiences.
· Author bio, stressing credentials. It’s fine to offer both a short and a long version.
· Book cover, in high-res and low-res formats, and in color and black and white.
· Author photo, also in high-res and low-res formats, and in color and black and white. Provide an action shot if that is appropriate, as well as a head shot.
· Selected interior art (as above) if appropriate.
· Book flyer, as a PDF file.
· Book facts/review slip.
· Overview or recap of the contents and/or overview and recap of the chapters.
· Sample chapters or excerpts—several pages, recipes, an essay, or whatever else can stand alone and generate interest.
· Table of contents, simple or detailed.
· Quotable quotes from the author and/or the book.
· “Praise for” sheet, with highlights from media and reader reviews.
· Hotlinks to key coverage and reviews.
· Quizzes and/or “Did You Know” sheet.
· List of book milestones (first printing, tenth printing, awards, and so on).
· Back cover, as a PDF file.
· Sample radio interview(s) and TV video clip(s).
· List of controversial issues for interviews.
· List of topic ideas with talking points.
· List of past media coverage.
· List of upcoming media coverage and events (put the newest at the top and keep current).
· List of available articles and/or the articles themselves.
· Sample interview with the author.
· Suggested interview questions/FAQ.
· List of relevant experts you can help media people contact.
· List of relevant facts with sources, with hotlinks, if appropriate.
· Information about the author’s availability.
· Easy way for media people to request a review copy, demo tape, or additional information.
Which One When?
Questions to ask yourself about your physical media kit:
· Does the kit properly reflect the book?
· Will one kit work for all media?
· How often should the materials be updated?
· When and where will the print-on-paper format work best?
Questions to ask yourself about your “Media Room”:
· What is the minimum content?
· Which format(s) should the elements be in?
· What content might be overkill?
· What is the best way to alert media people to the material on my site, and what will encourage them to visit?
· Is it easy to navigate the site and move from one section to another?
· When and where will the electronic format work best?
Kate Bandos has worked with hundreds of publishers and authors, and dealt with a wide array of media people during her more than 30 years in publishing. Since the formation of KSB Promotions in 1988, she has primarily helped independent publishers garner media exposure. She and her husband/partner, Doug, work with nonfiction titles only, specializing in cookbooks, titles on travel, parenting, gardening, home how-to, and consumer health, and selected children’s books.