Ooh, ooh, ooh – I can answer this one! I have a journalism degree
and have worked at several newspapers, so I can give you an inside
First of all, here is an excellent Web site with a lot of useful
I can tell you from experience to get your press kit to get noticed,
you have to make it something special. Editors are pulled in every
direction and time can be a precious commodity. We get press kits in
all the time. We can be snowed under with promotional materials. What
makes an editor pause and take notice? A press kit with panache.
Anything with a small “gift object” included also gets more mileage.
Let’s face it, why do people eat Cracker Jacks — it’s not for the
Not that you should bribe or spend lots of money – but I can tell
you right now that I have at least 2 “promo” items from press kits
sitting on my desk right now. Both are puzzles. Some newsrooms have
limits on the value of gifts people can accept. Unisex items are
better than gender-specific items.
Before I get too far, I’ll drum it in your head that you need to do
some homework first. Call the newspaper; ask for the newsroom; ask
for the editor in charge of features. GET THEIR NAME — and make
sure the spelling is correct. Get the mailing address for packages
(if you’re sending in a boxed kit). Now, you can ask for a reporter’s
name instead, but most stories are assigned by an editor.
It’s probably best that you don’t speak with the person unless you
have questions. Editors/reporters can be a grumpy lot, especially on
a cold call. Call them on deadline and it won’t be pretty. Talk to a
secretary or someone who handles calendar items.
Ahhhh … calendar items. Free local listings. You can still get
something for nothing these days. Having an event? You can have it
listed for free in most newspapers. Call and get their guidelines.
Also get the person’s name who will be typing in the calendar. Plan
ahead and make sure you get everything in by the deadline. Most
calendar listings follow the same format. List by event (what), time,
date, place plus contact and any other pertinent info. (Ex. Susie
Smith will have an art sale at 8 p.m., May 12 at 123 Studio, 123
Studio Drive. A portion of sales will benefit the animal shelter.
Call Smith at 555-5555.)
Just don’t cry when it doesn’t appear and nobody shows up. Don’t
rely on free listings alone to publicize your event. Calendars run
depending on how much space is available. Take out a paid ad to
guarantee you choose the wording/placement/run date.
Where was I? … oh yeah, press kits. The Web site I mentioned
really goes over what you need to know. Right before you send out
your press kit, call the newsroom and CONFIRM that the editor whose
contact info you got earlier STILL WORKS THERE. Newsrooms have a
horrible turnover rate. Plus people move around to different jobs
Have a hook: Have a compelling story, but don’t embellish.
Get their attention: Make your kit a showpiece with a theme. Use
humor if you can. Have all the in there, but not the
kitchen sink. Leave reporter/editor wanting more, but enough basic
to start with.
Have handout art available: Both a portrait shot and professional
shot of your work. Color 8X10s are great. Computer discs are fine as
long as you have the pics in proper format. But by all means, have
the visual images in there, too! Editors will only look at a disk
after they’ve decided to assign your story.
Don’t call and pester for an interview. Do call and inquire if your
kit arrived. If you catch the editor at a good moment, you might be
asked to set up an interview, so be prepared. Let the editor or
reporter drive. BE READY. If you’ve never been interviewed before, it
can be different to see your words in print. Practice with a friend
— but don’t rehearse answers – to help focus your thoughts.
Don’t be surprised if you don’t get an interview right away.
Newsroom schedules are this side of chaos.
If you want to see some killer self-promotion kits, check out a back
issue of How magazine’s self promotion competition winners. This is
a trade pub for people in the marketing field:
Please let me know if you have questions. Hope this helped some.