A press kit (also called a media kit) is a packed set of promotional material designed to give the media essential information about your company. It should provide background information, establish your credentials, and position you or your company for the media.

It’s a key element in any public relations campaign. Assembling a press kit may seem intimidating, but it takes less effort to put one together than you might think. Because much of the content in a press kit can be repurposed, you can use the copy in your marketing.

A press kit is designed to make the media’s job easier. It’s designed for a sound bite world. Remember, the media reads in bullets, so give the media information in bullet form.

My past two Hotmail articles detailed how a small company can get by without hiring a PR firm. This article is a continuation of ideas to help contractors succeed in public relations.

Here are the 16 elements you should consider including in your press kit:

1. Areas Of Expertise For Stories. Could you be an expert for Channel 4 or the Daily News? Sure. You know more about your business and industry than anyone at the news station or paper. You know more about upcoming industry changes and how they might affect consumers. You know what’s going to make an impact even before the media does because the consumer media are generalists. Generalists depend on specialists. That’s you!

Headline a page with “Areas of Expertise.” List the different areas in bold with bullet points describing the area/issues and your unique ability.

Changing technology and regulations are great areas to show expertise. Air conditioning contractors should contact local media now about the upcoming change in refrigerant mandated by the government.

Every owner is an expert in new technologies and trends. The new technologies may not even be new, as long as they’re new to the media and most of the public. What are people writing about in the trade magazines and on the Internet? What’s hot?

2. Articles By You/Your Employees. If you or any of your employees write articles for a local newspaper, local trade association newsletters, or the national trade press, include the articles or cite them in bullet form.

This further establishes your expertise. If you haven’t written any articles, get started. Publications are looking for material. If you’re worried how well you write, ask someone to ghost write for you. I’ve ghost written for people. I know others have done it too.

Publications want to hear from you by virtue of your position. You are the expert practitioner. Once I hired a guy who wrote regularly for the national trade press. The position required one to write well. I’d read this guy’s work, so I knew he could write.

Uh, wrong.

Simply stated, he couldn’t write. His editor could edit. He was the expert. He had the insight and knowledge, but he struggled to assemble it coherently. The trade magazine recognized the power of the message, delivered with credibility from someone who had done it, so the editor made it flow. If you’ve got good ideas (and I bet you do), an editor can make it work. So try it. Write an article and send it in.

3. Appearances. If you or an employee has spoken publicly on a subject, cite it in bullet form. This ranges from presentations at national conferences to your local Rotary Club meeting. Every speaking opportunity is an inherent opportunity to promote your company. Take them when they come. Seek them when they do not.

Don’t forget media appearances, such as radio or TV. Producers are much more apt to invite someone with media experience on a show than someone without any. They (correctly) figure you’re less apt to embarrass them if you’ve done it before.

4. Articles About You/Your Employees/Your Company. If anything’s been written about you, your employees, or about your company, include the articles or cite them in bullet form. It’s a credibility builder.

If nothing’s been written, try writing your own article. Even if it’s never been published, you can still format it like it was published.

5. Company Background Page. In one page, tell the media about your company. Lead with your unique selling proposition, which is a one sentence description of your company’s uniqueness.

Outline the history of your company using bullet points. Who were the founders? How and why did it start? What was the legacy? What are the milestones in your company’s history?

When presenting milestones, do so creatively, in ways everyone can relate. For example, Time Magazine reported in 1973 “if all the 12 billion McDonald's hamburgers sold to date were to be stacked into one pile, they would form a pyramid 783 times the size of the one erected by Snefru.”

I have little doubt that the magazine benefited from corporate PR statistics. Twelve billion is hard to grasp. A pyramid 783 times the size of the Great Pyramid is big! It offers a point of reference.

If you laid all of the duct you’ve installed end to end, how far would it stretch or how high would it reach? What is the cumulative value of the energy you’ve saved your customers through the years? Remember, if you saved someone energy ten years ago, you continue to save that person energy every year since.

6. Mission Statement. On a single sheet, state your company’s mission statement. If you lack a mission statement, consider writing one. It concisely defines what you will do and by exclusion, what you will not. It helps you stay focused.

The mission statement must be concise. It should be short. You and everyone in your company should be able to recite it. For example, the mission of the Service Roundtable is to help contractors improve their business and financial performance, leading to a profitable exit strategy.

7. Your Company Philosophy/Core Values. Your company philosophy goes beyond your mission statement. It’s a philosophy. It speaks to how you conduct business. It’s a list of the core values of your company.

Here’s a test to determine if something really is a core value. Would you hold this value if…
• There was no benefit?
• It put you at a disadvantage in the marketplace?
• You operated in a different industry with all new people?

Your philosophy and values govern your beliefs and conduct related to investors/owners, employees, customers, suppliers, and the public in general. They should define you. They should be timeless. State your philosophy and/or list your core values.

8. Profiles Of Each Employee (Depending On Company
Size).
Include a collection of employee profiles. Let the employee write the profile (with help, if necessary). The profile can include a photograph (and for key people, must include a photograph), education, work background, awards, accomplishments, and achievements, clubs, hobbies, and personal information.

The profiles should build up your company by building up your employees. They also provide multiple touch points or points of connection. Touch points increase the chance a media person will find something in common with your company. If your company employs dozens, you might want to limit the profiles to key people. If your turnover is high, you might want to limit the profiles to key employees and those with a year or more of tenure.

9. Suggested Questions. For broadcast media especially, provide the questions to ask and state the time required to answer each so the interviewer knows whether he should even pose a question when approaching a hard break. In almost all instances, you will be asked the exact questions you pose.

If it seems you are doing the media’s job for them, you are. By doing it you accomplish three objectives. First, you will increase the odds you will be interviewed. Second, you will ensure you are asked the questions you want, where you’ve already thought out your answers. Third, you show that you are a professional, reducing the odds that you will embarrass the producer who schedules you.

10. Lists & Quizzes. The media loves lists. These can be posed as quizzes to build interest…

The Top 10 Ways to Save Energy
7 Easy Ways To Cut Your Summer Air Conditioning Costs
5 Reasons to Improve Indoor Air Quality


11. Description of Products & Services. Provide a bullet point list of the products and services you offer. Think it through. Err on the side of specificity. Air conditioning contractors should not assume people think they will provide heating.

12. List Of Brands Carried. List all of the brands you sell. Depart from the bullet point list and simply include the logos with the brand names below them.

13. Customer Comments/Testimonials. Provide a list of customer testimonials, including the names and cities. Do not use initials, which look fabricated. Use the whole name.

For your press kit, keep the testimonials short (you can always expand them on your website). Prioritize based on the strength of the testimonial or the fame of the provider.

14. Media Testimonials. If you have testimonials from radio or television producers or hosts, include them. These reassure the producers of broadcast shows that you will not embarrass them, that you will be a quality guest.

You gain media testimonials like any testimonials-by asking. After a media appearance, send the producer and hosts thank you notes. These are so rare they’re notable. As part of the thank you note, ask the producer/host for feedback on you as a guest. If you receive positive feedback, ask if you can quote their response.

15. Awards You Have Won. If you or anyone in your company has won any awards related to your profession or your community, list them in bullet point format. Do not be modest. Remember, winning the slightest award makes your company “an award winning company.”

16. Contact Information. Last, but not least, include your full contact information. Let people know all of the ways to reach you and key people in your company.

Matt Michel is president of the Service Roundtable www.ServiceRountable.com an organization dedicated to helping contractors prosper. This excerpt is from the book “Cracking The Pubic Relations Code,” by Matt Michel that can be downloaded for free from the Service Roundtable site. Matt is also the publisher of Comanche Marketing, a free marketing e-zine. Subscriptions are available at www.ComancheMarketing.com. You can contact him directly at matt.michel@serviceroundtable.com.
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