May 2022 More on Press Kits
Last week we introduced the topic of press kits, a crucial tool for promoting an author and his or her book with the news media.
As we said then, a press kit is a set of documents about an author and the author’s book designed to interest journalists and then help make it easier for them to interview and or write about the author and book.
This discussion of a press kit is understandably a bit confusing to those new to this topic, in part because different professionals have differing opinions and ideas and give different advice. What I call a press kit or media kit, others refer to as marketing materials, or talk about a “one sheet” or other names. Professionals in the marketing and PR world have different ideas about what should be included and how it should be presented, plus use different terms, so that’s also a bit confusing. And it’s also true that an author might need several different marketing documents for different marketing purposes.
What we all can agree on, however, is that to promote a book and share info about it with the media, you need more than the Amazon description and the back cover copy – though those bits of text are vitally important of course as well.
Here in the Buoyancy shop, we believe in a traditional press kit because we believe it provides the most usable type of material for a working journalist to use in doing an interview.
So what is in a press kit?
The centerpiece of the press kit is the news release, which is a news story somehow related to the topic of the book and the author’s expertise. We will talk more about that below.
The press kit typically also includes sample interview questions, plus some other materials, such as the author bio, endorsements from other people, as well as important graphics such as the book cover and author photo.
A press kit is written in news writing style, heavy on facts and quotable comments.
News writing style means you won’t find glowing, enthusiastic sentences with superlatives and exclamation marks. This is not marketing copy.
While writing news releases in news writing style is a learned skill, for now writing a news release can be thought of as writing emphasizing the key facts, the who-what-when-where-how-why that we’ve spoken about here before.
The news release seeks to get attention but does it by finding a “news hook” related to current news, or citing stunning statistics or an interesting perspective that helps people achieve personal goals – think fitness and nutrition, for example, or a topic of interest on spiritual growth or family life.
The most effective news stories start with a compelling and succinct opening paragraph, called a lead (or lede to journalistic purists). That’s a great place for statistics that catch one’s attention.
News writing seeks to give an unbiased view of a topic, inserting opinion or viewpoint by quoting experts.
The author is included in the news story as one of those experts commenting on the topic, using both direct and indirect quotes. In writing about who this expert is, the author is cited as the author of his or her book, and their qualifications on the topic are also included. So there we are talking about the book and its significance in a way that could become an interview for a news story or radio interview.
Notice this is not a news story that simply declares Suzy Jones has released her first book and is very excited about it. Sorry, but that’s not really news. Yet, you will see many news releases written saying not much more than that.
We don’t have space to discuss every other element included in the press kit, but if you are writing your own materials, be sure to write thoughtful interview questions to save a journalist some time. They are the next most important element in a press kit.
Once the press kit is written, you need to use it, starting with distributing the news release to the media.
If your eyes are glazing over by this time and if you feel like you need some help with getting this press kit written and finding ways to distribute the news release to the media, reach out and we can talk further about ways that Buoyancy PR might be able to help.