5 Essential Press Kit Pieces

Trade show season is in full swing, with the AIA show last week, NeoCon this week, and preparations getting under way for Greenbuild (you have started preparing for Greenbuild, right?) and once again I am amazed by the number of companies, exhibitors even, that do not put out a press kit. Or even worse, have an ineffective one.

Creating and maintaining a useful press kit does not need to be expensive or time consuming. If you have active year-round publicity then you probably already have every thing you need, and can add or replace using the newest releases and articles. But even starting from scratch it should be a pain-free experience.
First, a word on using press kits. I prepare kits with two ends in mind: providing print-ready materials for interested editors, and important sales tools for prospects or investors I meet at the show. There is a lot of debate about using folders full of printed materials versus customized flash drives, but either way you go your press kit should contain the following five pieces:
  1. Photo Sheet: A one-page document with thumbnails showing print-ready (300 dpi or better) photos you have available. For a digital press kit you might have the actual image files or a slideshow as well; I still like the contact sheet because it gives editors a one-stop way to review our images. Also, I like to have them contact me to get the photos, or visit a website I am tracking, so I know who is using them and can follow up. Remember to include file names so editors can tell you which ones they want.
  2. Product Announcement: The construction industry has a very generous definition of "new", which means you can get away with "new product announcements" for your 5-year-old products. Even for established lines, this is a piece editors can drop in a "Product Gallery" without any trouble. Keep it to 75 words tops, with your company boilerplate and contact info below.
  3. Recent Press Releases: If you do not have any, this is a great excuse to put out a few. Done something new and exciting? Write about that. New certification, or an exciting project? Great. Nothing of note happened at all this year? Then celebrate another successful year in business during a down economy. These should be 200-400 words, focusing on a single idea.
  4. Current Sales Collateral: This is more for the press kit as sales tool. Any brochure or flyer you have at your booth should also be in here. Technical data sheets or guide specs can also be a nice touch, if done well.
  5. Show-Specific Information: This is the one most press kits forget, and the one that devastates their effectiveness. Be sure to include contact information for you at the show. Include your booth number, a cell phone or email account you will be checking regularly, any show special offers, and a schedule of events (press conferences, educational seminars, receptions, etc.). Press kits do no good if interested prospects and journalists can't reach you until after the show. Include a separate page or put a sticker on the front; just make sure it's there.

In the past, I kept a stack of folders near my desk, ready to go with these essentials, and would customize one before every important meeting. Now I do the same thing electronically, keeping a loaded flash drive I can afford to give away in my computer bag. There are other elements it is nice to add later, such as feature-length articles, backgrounders, and audience-targeted sales literature, but this is what you need for your bare-bones kit.

What's in your press kit? Tell us in the comments.