PRESS KITS

Press kits are packets of background information that are provided to members of the media at special events (conventions, press conferences, trade shows, etc.) or in conjunction with new product or service announcements. Businesses commonly utilize press kits as part of its overall public relations effort to disseminate new information about its products, services, operations, or other activities to the public. Typical elements of press kit packages include press/news releases, data sheets, glossy brochures, information on public relations contacts, general company information, and biographical information on relevant executives and/or employees. The appearance and content of all these materials should be designed and presented with an eye toward garnering positive press coverage for the business and its products and services.

Most press kits that are prepared in conjunction with new product releases continue to feature hardcopy data sheets and press releases. But the rise in Internet usage and other technological innovations has had an impact on press kit preparation. Some companies have utilized Internet sites to disseminate press kit contents, while others utilize an "electronic press kit," usually a video presentation that is a visual complement to written materials, suitable for television broadcast. Los Angeles Business Journal contributor Peter Berk noted that electronic press kits (EPKs) can be particularly effective if the product has a strong visual component: "Offering a ready-to-air [on television] EPK to those reporters attending your convention or trade show might soon yield exciting televised coverage that can directly help benefit your product and business both on the short and long-term levels."

Press kits are sometimes distributed in conjunction with press conferences that are called to bring attention to a new product or business initiative. However, business experts caution small business owners against arranging a press conference unless it concerns a major announcement, or the subject is so important that reporters will require the opportunity to ask questions, or a major dignitary or celebrity is involved. "Because what they are promoting is extremely important within the confines of their company, [businesses] get caught up in the excitement without realizing that outside of the company, the media and public may not share their enthusiasm," one analyst told Los Angeles Business Journal. "This often happens with the release of a new product, product line, or with a significant corporate announcement. Therefore, we ask our clients to 'externalize' the importance of their announcement, or step outside the company to see of, frankly, their announcement is truly newsworthy."

In most cases, a simple news release to industry media will be the preferred method of disseminating information to the public. If the news warrants a press conference, it should be timed to accommodate the release of the local papers (morning for an afternoon paper, afternoon for a morning paper) and held at a centrally located site with sufficient seating. When television coverage is expected, it is important to provide a visual element for the cameras. For example, a scale model of a new plant, a demonstration of a new process, or a sample of a new product might provide strong visual support at a press conference. The small business should also provide press kits to the members of the media in attendance at a press conference.

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