Written by: Gaylen Floy and Ronald E. Milliman, Ph.D.
Produced by the Public Relations Committee of the American Council of the Blind
What Is A Media Kit?
There are actually two types of media kits that are used today: 1) the traditional print media kit, and 2) a more contemporary online media kit. Traditionally, your media kit would be a collection of hard-copy materials that your organization has created to give to the media. Generally, during an event, exhibit or special occasion that warrants the presence of the media, your organization would make the media kits available to members of the media to inform them about your organization, e.g. the purpose, what it does, who it serves, etc.
Advantages and Importance of Your Media Kit
When you want to control what the media knows about your organization or a particular event or issue, a media kit is your best option. This lets your organization show itself in the best possible light. It includes biographies on your organization's leaders, information about key issues of major interest, e.g. quiet cars, scholarships being offered, fundraisers, and/or community contributions that your organization has recently made.
A media kit greatly benefits your organization by having its function, milestone or event publicized with the right members of the media in a positive manner. Getting an article written or a newscast made about the occasion is extremely valuable publicity because it carries weight with the public, since it comes from a reputable source. In turn, for the media representatives, a media kit is also beneficial. It is a quick way to get comprehensive information about the subject matter without having to interview the people present to get that information. It also supplies the media with photographs that they can use in place of trying to set up a time to take photos. A media kit can replace several hours of research into your organization or the major issues, which are the essence of your media kit. 1
The Traditional Print Media Kit
The traditional print media kit often includes one or more media releases concerning the event or occasion. It will also include several supporting documents that give media representatives a more complete picture of your organization, such as pictures that the media can freely use in its TV, radio, newspaper or magazine coverage. The media kit may also include brochures or pamphlets that provide more detailed information about your organization. 1 The materials placed in these types of media kits are usually put in a nice folder, like a pocket folder. The folder will often have an attractive label on the front showing the name of your organization in bold letters along with the words: "Media Kit," like this:
You then place the media releases, brochures, pictures, and any other supporting materials in the inside pockets in some logical fashion. It is vitally important to make sure that your contact information is easy to find. You could use a pocket folder that has a place for a business card in the front of the left pocket, and place your affiliate business card in the cardholder cutout.
The More Contemporary Online Media Kit
The much more contemporary online media kit includes very similar materials to the traditional print version just described, except it is provided online in a digital format. Many organizations and businesses have largely abandoned the use of the print media kit in favor of the more flexible, online media kit. Therefore, we will mostly concentrate on the online media kit here in the remainder of this white paper.
In fact, an online media kit today is simply essential for an organization to increase its media recognition. A December 12, 2009 New York Times column details how the recession is forcing businesses to rely more on technology and online connections. 2 Media outlets hit hard by the recession are closing or cutting staff drastically. Reporters rely on credible Internet sources, because it enables them to find the right people to interview, check facts and beat deadlines. An online media kit can make the difference between getting coverage for an organization and having its story buried. 3
Therefore, ACB, its affiliates and chapters not only need to optimize web sites to rank high with search engines, but each site should target journalists by offering a media kit. A kit is just a single page. There should also be a “Media Kit” link on every page of the site leading to that kit. 4
What exactly goes on the media kit page?
The ACB site (http://www.acb.org/) currently offers an "About Us" page. The writing on this page is geared to members and potential members, offering general information and links to public service announcements. A media kit would not replicate this page, but be written and organized for reporters and editors. The basic tools of a media kit include an organizational overview, a summary of goals and services, a couple of current news releases, officer biographies and photos, and talking points. Later, other tools can be added.
Before uploading your media kit materials to your web site, there are a few important issues to consider, such as planning what materials you need, getting everything you need in a digital format, and identifying the people with the skills you need to publish the materials to your web site and keep them up-to-date. Most of the content will already be in a digital format, like Microsoft Word. Other materials may need to be scanned and saved in a digital format so that they can be easily uploaded to the site. There should be a system set up so that peers can review information, make changes and give final approval. An agreed-upon timeline keeps production on track. Once the approved information is uploaded, a number of people with good eyesight should review the page using different browsers. Ask a local editor to review the page on a Mac. Once the kit has been tested, you are ready to alert the media.
Agree on Style!
A cohesive presentation is critical, especially for an organization of the blind. We want to assure the media that we know how to work with them and that our information is accurate.
Since editors and reporters will be viewing your media kit, whether it is the print variety, an online media kit, or both, give serious consideration to using a professional photographer for any photo content. Good pictures are crucial! The sighted world is saturated with high-quality visual presentation. So, you want to give the media plenty of what they need! Why not pay a news photographer a few bucks to take the photos for you, like the pictures of your officers or board to go with their biographical sketches? That will ensure professional quality, proper cropping of the photos, the correct lighting, color saturation and resolution. Ask for 300 pixels per inch. Do not skimp on quality photos. Providing good photos increases the likelihood of being quoted and getting good visual placement.
With regard to writing, keep sentences simple and clear. Avoid adjectives. As Joe Friday, a detective on the 1950s TV show "Dragnet" would say, "Just the facts, ma’am.” Paragraphs should be short and stick to the point. Using spell check is not enough; have several people proof the writing and double-check facts.
What should be compiled?
1. The overview is a paragraph that gives background on the organization, numbers and, if possible, tells what population segments are represented among the blind and sighted members.
2. A summary of goals and services is a paragraph that answers the question, "What makes this organization unique?"
3. A couple of your most current media releases. A good approach would be to offer the headline, first sentence and a link to the full release. It is important that the releases stay current.
4. Officer biographies, photos and contact information. The bios should be one paragraph.
5. Talking points. Agree on a format and a plan to keep these relevant to current hot-button topics, such as major issues with which ACB, your affiliate or chapter is presently concerned.
Important: Keep Your Media Kit Up-to-Date!
Maintaining the media kit will reinforce credibility with the media. Keep all information up to date. Change your talking points and news releases every month or as issues change. Also check links to make sure they still work. Get feedback from reporters. 5
Online media kits are essential in working with reporters and editors because they are fast to access, provide current and needed information and encourage further interaction. 4 A kit can be put together on a shoestring budget, but requires good planning. Start with the basics. Once the kit is ready, notify the local media outlets. Other tools that can be added later include: FAQs, fact sheets, speeches, reports than enhance credibility, and a calendar of recent appearances.
1. About Media Kits, by Lizz Shepherd, http://www.ehow.com/about_4728272_media-kits.html
2. "The Do-It-Yourself Economy," by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, Dec. 12, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/13/opinion/13friedman.html?_r=1
3. "How the Basics of Media Kit Design Can Make, Break, or 'Shake' a Site,"
by Mandy LeAnne, Internet Marketing Monitor, March 15, 2007, http://www.internetmarketingmonitor.org/0704/how-the-basics-of-media-kit...
4. "What makes a good online media kit?" by Michael Aaron, ClickZ, April 13, 2000, http://www.clickz.com/823091
5. "5 ways to create a media kit," by Joanna L. Krotz, Microsoft Small Business Center, http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/resources/marketing/advertising-b...