To build your platform, your brand, or your email list, you need help spreading the word about your work. One of the best ways to share your message is by giving interviews.
When journalists, podcasters, event coordinators, reporters, and bloggers want to contact you, they need to find all the information that will make you a shoo-in as their next interview.
You can provide it in a press kit.
What is a press kit?
Once upon a time, if you were going to be interviewed by a journalist or broadcasters, you mailed a press kit. What is a press kit? Imagine a pocket folder containing your business card, your bio printed on paper, and physical photos of you. You’d put that folder in a mailing envelope, hand it to a mail carrier, and they would deliver it to the interviewer.
Technology expedited the process when authors started to fax their press kits or email them as a PDF.
But today, your press kit is a page on your website containing all the information the media would need to contact and interview you.
Why have a press kit?
If no one is contacting you for interviews, it may be because you don’t have a press kit.
Traditional media, such as radio and TV hosts, will look for this information on your website. But it’s not just for traditional media. Bloggers, podcasters, and event coordinators looking for speakers will also use information from your press kit. Without emailing or contacting you, they can get most of the information they need to decide whether you’ll be a good fit for their show.
If they decide you’re a good fit, the images and information you provide will help them prepare for your interview or event.
Four Ways a Press Kit Helps You
It makes it easier to interview you.
If you provide a robust record of your expertise, bio, books, and accolades, an interviewer will know what questions to ask, and you’ll be prepared with answers. If you want to avoid an awkward interview, provide on-topic questions to guide the interviewer.
It makes your interviews go well.
If the conversation isn’t awkward, you, your interviewer, and your audience will enjoy the final product.
It can help create more media opportunities.
When producers are looking for guests, they’re more likely to interview people who provide a list of potential questions that the producer can cut and paste. If your press kit has everything the producer needs, you’ve just made their job very easy, and you’re more likely to get an interview than an author who has none of that.
When I hosted a drive-time radio talk show, I had to fill two hours of airtime every day. If it was a busy news week and a hurricane was on the way, that two hours would fill itself. But if it was a slow news day, I’d be desperate for guests to interview. If they made my job easy, they were likely to get an interview.
Be kind to the journalists, and they will be kind to you.
It makes your PR outreach more effective.
We teach our Book Launch Blueprint students how to do their own PR and get booked on TV, radio, and podcasts. A good press kit will make that easier for you, and it will make your other marketing efforts more effective. Being easy to contact and interview will increase your chances of being interviewed in the future.
Who looks for a press kit?
- Journalists (Magazine & Newspapers)
- TV Producers
- Radio Show Hosts
You might not expect to see teachers on the list, but professors at colleges and universities might invited you to be a guest speaker or write an article. That’s great exposure. But if the teacher doesn’t have your information, they’re far less likely to invite you.
Where do you put your press kit?
Your press kit should be on your website, but it doesn’t have to be on your main navigation menu. Authors often want to include information in the press kit that they don’t want to share widely. For example, you may want to include a phone number so journalists can call, but you don’t necessarily want all your readers calling you at that number.
Put the link for your press kit in the footer of your website because that’s where journalists will look. If I want to interview or refer to your book, I’ll get information about you and your book on your website, and I’ll look in the footer.
If talking to the media is a major part of your brand, you can put it in your main menu, but it’s not required.
You can also add a link to your press kit on your about page.
What should a press kit include?
For your logo, headshot, and book covers, you need a high-resolution image, preferably at least 1,000 x 1,000 pixels. If the interviewer wants to put your photo on a presentation slide, TV, or feature you on a YouTube video, they need an image that looks good in HD and is at least 2,000 pixels wide.
These images are large, so they may take time to load, but the journalist knows that. One workaround to slow-loading images is to use a 200 x 200 thumbnail of the image, and when people click, the higher resolution image downloads. The page loads faster, but the downloaded image is still good.
The selection of photos you offer in your press kit is one way to show your personality. While you’ll want to include a professional headshot, you can also include a photo or two that demonstrates your interests or hobbies. For example, in James L. Rubart’s Press Kit, he includes a photo of himself waterskiing. It’s surprising and intriguing and may make the journalists curious.
Extended Bio (Not your speaking bio)
Your speaking bio should be short. When someone introduces you from the stage, they don’t want to read paragraphs about where you went to school.
A journalist, on the other hand, is very interested in those details and your longer story. They’ll take pieces of your story to write their story about you.
Write your bio in the third person just in case the journalist copies and pastes it straight into their show notes.
You can also include a pronunciation guide for your name in your extended bio.
FAQs and Suggested Interview Questions
Think of questions people often ask you, like “Where do you get your books ideas?” That question allows you to tell about yourself, and it could also be used as a suggested interview question.
Include questions that past interviewers have asked you in blog, radio, or TV interviews. Provide
a smorgasbord of questions they can draw from.
One thing that makes it easier to be interviewed on podcasts is to have some suggested topics ready to go. I enjoy being interviewed on people’s podcasts. In fact, I was recently on The Pastor Writer Podcast, which is specifically for pastors who are writing books. The suggested questions in my press kit include questions I was asked on The Pastor Writer Podcast because they were such great questions.
Press Contact Info & Contact Form
The most important part of your press kit is your contact information. Journalists have real deadlines. When I was on the radio, my show started at 5:00, and if I didn’t have a story by that time, I didn’t talk about it. By 7:00, the show was over. Make it easy for journalists to reach you by including your phone number.
You don’t have to provide your personal cell number, though. You can use Google Voice. I use a paid service called Ring Central in addition to Google Voice, which is my business line. It rings to my computer, and it can ring to my phone if I wanted it to.
You’ll also want to include an email address. I created a special email address, press@ThomasUmstattd. com, and that email redirects to my real email address, so I always know if somebody is emailing that address, and it didn’t cost me anything.
Social Media Links
Journalists are big on Twitter. If you’re active on Twitter or have a professional Facebook presence, list those and any other social media links in your press kit.
If you’ve won any awards, journalists would love to know.
Recent Press Releases
If you’re an organization putting out press releases, I recommend creating a category on your blog called “Press Releases.” Publish your press releases as blog posts and put them in your Press Release category. When journalists visit your page, they can click on the Press Release category and find all your news and announcements.
Journalists like to interview people that other journalists have already interviewed. If somebody has been interviewed by many media sources, there’s a good chance they are good with the media, which means they’ll be an easy interview. Journalists don’t want to interview a person who gives one-word answers or won’t shut up.
Notable Press Mentions
If you’ve talked to the New York Times, put that on your press kit. I took the logos of all the different newspapers and media outlets that have interviewed me, and I put them into an image I uploaded to my website. All the logos look fancy, and it was a very low-tech, easy way to do it.
You can also hire somebody on Fiverr. Give them a list of all the logos and ask them to put together an “As Seen In” graphic with all the logos.
If you’re a novelist wondering how you can show social proof and social authority, make your awards or finalist nominations prominent. When a journalist sees those, they’ll know you’ve had some success, and that will increase your likelihood of being interviewed.
Whether you’ve won awards or appeared on lots of podcasts, focus on your strengths and successes. Few authors have all of these sections in their press kits.
Notable Speaking Appearances
If you’ve spoken at your alma mater or a notable conference, include that logo in your press kit.
Downloads (PDF Press Kit Download)
If you have any downloadable assets, including a PDF of your Press Kit, you can include those as well.
List all your books and link to the book pages on your website. If you’re using MyBookTable, it’s very easy.
Links to Recent Interviews
Include links to your recent interviews, whether on a blog, a podcast, YouTube, or TV. Past interviews function as a sample for journalists to try.
Press Kit Examples
If you already have a press kit, please share it at AuthorMedia.social to inspire your fellow authors. If you don’t have one yet, browse examples, and then share your new press kit web page with us.
I crafted this plan with bestselling and award-winning author James L. The Five Year Plan is a step-by-step guide for your writing career. Learn what to do in each quarter of the year to avoid the mistakes that hijack success for most authors. Set yourself up for success. Learn more at Five Year Plan to Become a Bestselling Author.
7 Deadly Friendships, by Mary DeMuth. We got our hands on a pre-release copy, and my wife could not put it down. If you are wondering if your friends are crazy, or you keep attracting the wrong kind of people around you, you really should pre-order this book.