5 Don'ts of Press Kits

April 20, 2011

Last week we talked about 5 press kit must haves. This week we tackle the flip side: common mistakes of press kit no symbolconstruction.


1) Don't use a weird size folder or alternative container. I know you want to stand out, but if you don't fit in - literally - to the files back at the home office, you won't be found when the journalist needs you.


2) Don't Bankrupt Yourself with Freebies. Freebies definitely make more people pick up your press kit - but for the most part, the people whose job it is to write about your product are going to pick it up regardless. The people whose mind is changed by a freebie are mostly the ones who just want the freebie, and are going to throw the rest away.
That said, if your product is cheap to make; if it can be easily sampled in a small size; if it's hard to understand without trying it; or if your goal is to create a buzz among users, freebies may be worth it.

3) Don't include the kitchen sink.
When you don't know what editors are looking for, there's a temptation to throw in everything -- especially now that digital storage makes it cheap and easy. Don't do it! Your real news will get lost in the crowd. If you have a big line, edit your offerings. Highlight the biggest news - new categories are usually bigger news than new lines; new lines are bigger than line extensions. Ditto for bios and backgrounders.

Do put in potential story hooks for different kinds of press (location for local press, women or minority ownership, charity tie-ins, unusual business models) but keep it to a teaser on paper and provide more info digitally.

4) Don't tie, seal, or otherwise make your press kit hard to get into. No amount of decoration or keeping things together is worth editors passing you by because they can't tell if your press kit is right for them. A plain CD or thumb drive has the same problem -- we can't tell if it's for us. Green is good, but we still need a little paper, at least an informative CD cover or hang tag.

5) Don't use cryptic file names. A lot of times digital files are either named for some kind of internal coding system, like an item number, or from the sender's point of view (e.g., MediaKit.pdf -- makes perfect sense for a sender that only has one media kit, but not so much for a recipient who has thousands).

However once they're back at the publication, digital files often get separated from their paper trail. A file name like "RS86945" may mean they stay lost forever. It also makes it harder for editors to find what they're looking for in a long list of files. Whereas a name that says what it is - Bobs_Candles_June11_Blue.jpg - will make a journalist bless your name.