You may have heard or read that whenever you are promoting something you need to have a ‘Press Kit’ – a set of resources for the media to access information about the person or thing that is being promoted. But what is a press kit (or electronic press kit as it’s more commonly know these days), why should you have one, and what are the tools you’re going to need to create one? Let’s get started…
What is an electronic press kit?
A press kit is a bit like a CV. It’s your chance to show all your best attributes to the media, in one condensed format. Traditionally it was a printed sheet distributed to the media.
Since the dawn of the digital age, the traditional press kit has been replaced with the electronic press kit (commonly known as an EPK). It’s like a distilled version of your website on one highly clickable page, that very quickly lets the media know what they need to know about you.
But an EPK isn’t necessarily just for the press. In fact, you can send any professional interest lead direct to your EPK rather than your website because it’s so much quicker for someone to get a snapshot of what you are about as a person or brand.
Why you need an electronic press kit
A good Electronic Press Kit is, of course all about your brand, your product, or just about you. But its main purpose is to make a journalist’s life as easy as possible. As you may have heard us say before, journalists and producers are usually very busy people who are constantly having to produce more and more media on ever-decreasing budgets and in shorter time frames. If a journalist has the option of producing a piece about someone who has some nicely written copy, some useful quotes, some professionally taken and easily downloadable hi-res images, and a calendar of upcoming relevant events all displayed on one page, and someone that doesn’t, which one do you think the journalist is going write about?
So making an EPK is about being ready to deal with the media before they come to you. A good press kit will make you seem professional and approachable; two things a media professional will appreciate.
In the event that your project is a big success and you are inundated by press requests, your EPK is an efficient way of sending information out to the press that you are happy for them to use, without you having to look over their shoulder and help them.
There’s an added benefit of making an EPK. It is a pretty useful exercise in seeing where you are publicity-wise and where you need to be. Perhaps it will expose the need for some professionally taken photographs, or better written bios? Or maybe it will make you realise that you need to work a little bit harder on getting your first media mentions? Like writing a press release, it will crystallise in your mind what your messages are, and how you are positioning yourself to the media, so when the media does come calling you can give a unified message.
Paid vs DIY
A quick google for “EPK” or “Electronic Press Kit” will bring up a myriad of companies offering to design and host your press kit for a fee (normally a monthly recurring fee). Our advice would be to ignore these companies and try and keep your press kit in-house as much as possible. In the world of the media if the story is good enough, it will always sell itself. No amount of funky design will help a story that is not compelling to the media. Also keeping it within your control means you will be able to change the EPK as and when it becomes necessary, without too much fuss. So a simply laid out page with all the appropriate information does the job. A good example is this electronic press kit (below) for the seattle opera company.
What goes in an EPK?
Fact Sheet (AKA ‘One Sheet’): This 1-2 page document should summarise what you or your company is all about. What are your main activities/products/services? Do you have any employees or sales figures? If so give some details about them. Where did your story start and where are you heading?
Bios: If you are trading as a personal brand then this may be irrelevant as you might have covered this in the fact sheet. If you are a company you should have short bios of your key staff – including what their roles are and a short career history.
Key Press Releases: Include an index of the press releases you’ve released that best define what you are about and appeal to your target audience. If you haven’t written any yet, then write at least one – concentrating on the story you want to talk about now.
Photos: You want to have several hi-resolution photos (preferably 1MB+ per photo) of your key staff, your key products and whatever you are looking to promote. It’s important that it’s obvious how to download the pictures and that they are royalty free (in other words a newspaper or blog won’t have to pay to use the photographs). So if someone other than yourself has taken the picture, make sure you have their permission for it to potentially be printed in commercially available media.
Contact Details: Of course you need to have details of where the media can contact you if they require further information. Preferably keep this to one person.
Examples of your work: If you are any kind of performer or artist, it’s vital that you include the most media friendly examples of your work – preferably that can be downloaded, and also (in the case of video, pictures or audio) that are easily embeddable. For video that means hosting the video on a site like youtube or vimeo, for audio it means hosting it on a site like soundcloud and for pictures that means hosting them on a site like flikr.
• Your mantra when creating an EPK should be ‘keep it simple and to the point’. Long detailed descriptions are for dedicated customers or super-fans. Keep that to your website. Put yourself in the shoes of a busy journalist who has just discovered you for the first time and has 5-10 minutes (aka the time it takes for a coffee break) to get an impression of what you’re about.
• If you need to include a person’s age in your bio write their date of birth rather than their current age. This will save you from having to update it over the years.
• If you have a name that people have trouble pronouncing, make sure you write it phonetically in brackets after the word “pronounced” e.g. for the Newsreader George Alagiah you would write in your fact sheet “George Alagiah (pronounced: AL-AH-GUY-AH)”
• Mention your EPK in all your press releases – make sure you include a hyperlink to the EPK page at the bottom of your press release.
• Don’t make the first view of your EPK overwhelming. You want it to be simple to navigate so the media professional can quickly and easily reach what they want to get.
More visuals: It can be a good idea to include hi-resolution images of any relevant logos and charts that might come in handy.
Previous bits of media: If you’ve been featured in the media before include a screengrab or scan of the article or at least link to the article/video/audio.
Press quote sheet (pdf): This will be a page featuring the quotes others of note, including (but not necessarily exclusively) the media. Make sure they are brief – two sentences at most. If you have any particularly good ones, make sure you use the best three in your fact-sheet.
Media specific content: Your EPK has to be targeted to the type of media that you are likely to feature on. Again – think about making the media’s life as easy as possible for them. If you think you are going to be approached to be on TV or radio try and come up with a list of topics that you would make a good discussion guest for and create a ‘broadcast discussion topic suggestions’ list for producers to download. Also suggest things like the way you would like to be introduced on TV and Radio – job titles are often inaccurately reported.
Q&A: Get someone to interview you about your project, transcribe the interview and publish it on the site. It’s always better to avoid ‘interviewing’ yourself, because it will be obvious that the interview is not a real conversation. Keep it short (1 page is plenty) and avoid going in-depth. Remember that you are just doing this to get the media interested – so don’t give them long paragraphs to write.
All the documents on your EPK should be saved as a PDF (or portabe document format) file. The reason why is the actual document can be easily sent to, downloaded by and printed by a journalist. The main benefit of a PDF is it will always be viewed exactly as you have designed it. No matter what type of device it’s viewed on the fonts, picture size and layout will always stay the same. So you know there won’t be any difference from what you create and what the journalist reads.
If you have any word processing programme (like Microsoft word) you can easily create a PDF document by creating a documents as normal and then pressing print. In my own version of word there’s a little drop down menu in the bottom left hand corner which you can click and choose the ‘save as PDF’ option.
You will need to upload your pdfs to your website, create the titles of the documents on your page and link the pdfs to the titles, so when someone clicks on the resulting link, they automatically download the PDF. If that sounds like gobbledegook, get your web developer to help. Alternatively here’s a video on how to do it for wordpress
If you do have design skills or are comfortable using brochure templates on microsoft word or other desktop publishing applications, it’s not going to hurt to make your EPK look good. Alternatively you could customize a free online brochure template. But it bears repeating that in of itself, the design of your press kit is not going to be the thing that makes your project or company a success.
You will need to create a new page on your website for your EPK. Make it easily visible from your homepage in case the media professionals end up there by accident (or by googling you).
If you don’t have a website you can still create all the documents and have them ready to send via email, or store them on a free hosting platform like google drive and point the media there. Here’s a tutorial on how to host a pdf on google drive and share it with the media (or whoever you want).
If you have any thoughts or questions about this post, please add a comment below and I will get back to you.