Small Business Help: How To Create Your Own Press Kit

How to put together a press kit that will help you advertise a new business or event, impress new clients, or promote your own talent.

A press kit is an attractive and effective way to publicize a new business or special event, attract prospective customers or financial backing, or to whet the appetite of the media for an upcoming interview. They are also relatively easy and inexpensive to put together and to update as you add to your accomplishments and/or product lines.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

We're going to assume that you've already gone to the effort of designing a logo, coming up with a business name, and having professional business cards and letterhead printed. All of these things contribute to how seriously the recipients of your press kits will regard you and your organization.

Whether you are running a business or store, operating as a non-profit corporation, or publicizing your work as a freelance writer or artist, it's important to have an "image" that people can identify and associate with you. Down the road, this type of uniformity and cohesion will make it easier for you to move to the top of the food chain in terms of establishing favorable and lasting relationships with the press and with your customers.

WHAT A PRESS KIT SHOULD CONTAIN

If you are launching a new business:

* A general introductory letter on who you are, where you are located, and what it is that you are selling as a product or providing as a service. Keep the content to no more than one page. Test it on friends for readability, professionalism, and, of course, catching typos!

* A business card or Rolodex-style card that can be filed for future reference.

* A brochure that offers an overview of your products/services. Depending on your budget, this can either be designed by a professional or put together using any number of excellent business and graphics software programs available at local computer stores.

* A double-spaced press release or copies of press clippings announcing the new company. In dealing with your local media, a press release that has already been prepared in advance for their use is always appreciated. Be sure to note at the top of the page whether the materials are "For Immediate Release" or should be released at a later, specific date. Where possible, allow at least 6 weeks' lead time for your local newspapers.

If you are courting new clients or subscribers:

* A personalized letter of introduction on who you are, where you are located, and what you're selling. Whenever possible, try to identify how your company or service can address their specific needs or concerns.

* A business card or Rolodex-style card for future reference. Some entrepreneurs also enclose mini-calendars in order to keep the company name visible to the new client on a regular basis.

* A brochure that highlights what you have to offer.

* A discount certificate to introduce them to your work. (This is a great way to get them to come in the door for a look around and see if they like it!)

* Testimonials from other clients or agencies who are familiar with what you do. (Two or three line quotes are sufficient for this.)

* Listing of awards, certifications or local/state/national achievement recognition.



If you are promoting a special event:

* A double-spaced press release with all of the pertinent information on where, when, how much it will cost, and where/how to purchase tickets for it.

* Contact information (either a business card or short letter with phone number and email listed).

* A copy of the event flyer.

* A photo sampler of the event's prior successes. In the case of fund-raising events, it's always helpful to include a blurb on how much money was raised and to what use it was made for the organization and/or community at large.

* An agenda of events or guest speakers.

* Two complimentary tickets.

If you are publicizing your own work as a freelance writer, artist or musician:

* A one-page bio of your background, accomplishments, credits and awards. (Where has your work been published, shown or heard? The recipients of your press kit will want to know these things.)

* A professional 5x7 or 8x10 headshot of yourself. Black and white pictures are usually preferred.

* A business card or Rolodex-style card for future reference.

* Samples of your work. For writers, this can be sample book covers and/or excerpts or published reviews; for artists, a brochure of photographed paintings, sculpture or other artworks; for musicians, a sample CD. Writers often find it useful to include bookmarks in the promo package as well.

* Excerpts from past interviews.

* Complimentary tickets to an upcoming gallery or concert. In the case of writers seeking reviews of their new publications, include a courtesy copy with the press kit.

PACKAGING YOUR PRESS KIT

The entire purpose of a press kit is to present everything together in one tidy package. If you simply throw all of the above items loosely into an envelope and address it to "Editor, Local Paper" or "To Whom it May Concern, ABC Corporation," you may as well not have done anything at all. Always take the time to call the newspaper or the company to whom you are sending your materials and get the correct contact name and title. In the case of artists who use press kits as a way to promote their new works, it's wise to keep a supply of press kits on hand for those unexpected opportunities that come up to schedule an interview or a performance. Keep the contents current, too (and that goes for your publicity pictures!).

The press kit materials should be placed in an attractive pocket-style folder with the letter and business card on the left hand side and everything else on the right side. Another option is to use front and back cover stock, three-hole-punch, and secure with brass brads. For materials that aren't going to be routinely updated, a third option is to have the materials professionally bound at a print shop.

As a final note, try not to exceed a dozen pages of material. If it looks too cumbersome to wade through, your target reader will end up setting it aside and, eventually, forgetting about it altogether.

© High Speed Ventures 2011