Whether you own a small business, work for a large corporation or lead a non-profit organization, getting the right message out is an important part of day-to-day operations. This ultimately means dealing with the media. If you want to promote an event or announce a major change, you’ll need to prepare a press kit. If you want to explain the history of your business or organization and what it does, a full media kit will be necessary.
A media kit is essentially easy-to-understand general information on a business or organization. This can include background, history and bios of the major players running the show. Fact sheets and a “backgrounder” usually include a timeline of important milestones, awards, statistics and facts, and the history of the business or organization. Recent flattering newspaper or magazine clips are also included in media kits, not just to add credibility, but also to give reporters an idea of what kind of coverage has already been done. While press kits deal with very specific time-sensitive issues or events, media kits are more of an overview. The bio information and credibility included in media kits also give the media an opportunity to quote your experts on other related topics a reporter may be covering.
Unlike a media kit, a press kit is designed to give the media an idea of the “who, what and where” of a new program, new product or up-coming event. The purpose of the press kit is to pitch the media on promptly covering what ever you are promoting. If the press kit is promoting an up-coming event, it will contain the time, date and location. And if it’s an annual event, there will also be newspaper clips of media coverage from last year. During the event, press kits are also given out to reporters who may not have received one in advance. If the press kit is to launch a new product or service, a very brief fact sheet specific to that product or service is usually included. Press kits for the trade press will highlight the success of your company's new innovation or technique. That same press kit for the mass media would emphasize any increased employment or prestige in beating the competition that occurred.
The line between a media kit and a press kit has been blurred with the evolution of the online virtual “press room.” This is an area on a company or organization website devoted expressly to the media. These sites offer both expanded virtual media kits and constantly updated virtual press kits all in one location without the restraint of page numbers. These sites have the ability to give the most up-to-the-minute information, as well as a larger selection of downloadable photos and graphics. Another difference is that this digital format allows posting video clips and archived newspaper articles from past media coverage of your business or annual event. Some websites also post an archive of past press releases.
David Barber has been a print and radio journalist since 1979. He received a 1981 Los Angeles Press Club Award and was co-author of the 1998 "Insider’s Guide to Tucson." He holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from State University of New York.