A media kit, also referred to as a press kit, is an organized, comprehensive package of information on a client. Media kits are often compilations of several of the kinds of public relations writing discussed above.
Items in a media kit vary, depending on the client, but standard contents may include hard news releases and feature news releases; a Q&A; biographies and backgrounders (discussed
in Chapter Four); photos of the key executives or products; and lists of goods manufactured, achievements, honors received, or films or records released. Sometimes media kits include annual reports, brochures, or publications, such as those discussed in Chapter Ten. Finally, media kits can include CDs or DVDs with material about the client, including previous media coverage and B-roll, secondary video clips without sound, such as shots of company headquarters, which a news outlet can use to fill out a story.
Photocopies of other articles already published about the client can be particularly useful in press kits. They can influence editors to do stories while at the same time allowing them to
avoid duplication by finding a new angle. Make sure such copies always include the date they originally appeared and where they were published.
A media kit helps a journalist by making background information readily available, thereby saving research time. Public relations offices get very busy, and you won’t always have time to compile a kit every time you need one. Prepare standard kits in advance so that you can send them at a moment’s notice or add elements for special needs. Media kits are also frequently put together for a special event. If, for example, you’re holding a media conference to announce award recipients, the media kit will most likely include short biographies of the award recipients, background on the awards and their sponsor, and, when applicable, samples of what warranted the award (for example, photographs, artwork, or
Sometimes media kits are compiled in response to breaking stories. In those situations, they may contain reports, court records, and other documents that support or refute a claim.
Media kits are often packaged in custom-printed folders with the client’s logo on them. This presentation is attractive but not mandatory. A less expensive kit can be packaged in a glossy,
colored pocket folder with laser labels available at a standard office-supply store.
Here are the elements included in The media kit for the Ready Freddy Emergency Kit included these items:
• The press release reprinted previously in this chapter
• A full-color product sheet picturing the emergency backpack and its six color-coded internal packs, enumerating the contents of each
• A DVD of a television commercial
• A DVD of television news coverage
• Clips of previous news coverage.
To prevent misstatements of fact or divulgence of inappropriate information, a series of approvals is necessary before a news release—or public relations material of any sort—is sent to the media. The line of copy approval can be quite long, and several rounds of rewrites and approvals are frequently needed before copy can be released. Be accommodating, and rewrite according to suggestions and comments from those approving the copy. If you disagree with a change that makes a substantive difference, tactfully and succinctly explain your point of view. Perhaps you can suggest an alternative phrasing that both of you are comfortable with.
In a corporation, there is likely to be a series of people in management who must read and approve your copy before it can be released. In most companies, a high-ranking member of the legal department is part of the review process. Because anything released to the media becomes part of the company’s public image, the approval process often goes to the top of the corporate structure in both the company you represent and its parent company, probably up through the senior officer of corporate communications and, in many corporations, the CEO. These corporate officers want to know in advance what will appear in tomorrow’s papers. The motto for public relations personnel within a company and those at an agency representing a client is: no surprises.
In an agency, your copy is usually first approved by your supervisor and then sent to your client, where it must go through the company’s established approval process before it can be sent to the media.
Because of the labyrinth of approvals through which a document must travel, it’s a good idea to ask for dated initials on approved copy or to save e-mail approval responses to a special file. These copies will help avoid confusion later as to who saw what when. Don’t be insulted or discouraged when your copy is altered. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you haven’t done a good writing job. There is simply a lot of rewriting that has to be done in public relations, and clients often have specific ideas they would like to see communicated through your writing.
There may be times when you feel your client is making copy changes that will not advance his or her goals or communicate them as clearly as you would wish. You must be the judge of when and whether you should point them out. Your dual role is to serve your clients’ needs as well as the needs of the target media. Remember that a singlemistake or a single lie in a press release or in any subsequent verbal interaction with a journalist will cost you your hard-earned credibility and reputation. Accuracy and truth are paramount. Never send a news release to the media before it goes through all necessary approval stages. No surprises!