By Dana Dobson
You need an online press kit. You really, really do.
Let’s say I’m a reporter with a big story assignment and a tight deadline. I need to find, by lunchtime, three community bank CEOs who will talk to me about their organization’s policy on loan officers’ use of LinkedIn as a business development tool.
Hmmmm, I think. Who do I want to talk to? Let’s give some of those other folks a try, the ones with whom I rarely speak and who might be excited about being quoted in a news story.
I make a list of three local community banks, and naturally, the first thing I do is go online and take a look at their websites. My personal research process is to click on the “About Us” button. I’m looking for a succinct paragraph describing their organization—the “boilerplate,” if you will. If I find one, (which, believe it or not, is rare), my next stop is the “Press Room,” where I’ll find the name of a contact person (again, rare) who will connect me, immediately, with the CEO.
Bank A has an “About Us” button. When I get there, I scroll up and down the page for the paragraph I seek. All I get is a lot of self-promotional tripe about their excellent customer service (yawn) and nothing about number of branches or asset size. Maybe I’ll find it in the press room, I think. But there is no press room. I sigh and move on.
Bank B has an “About Us” page. The content on this page is a 2,500-word essay entitled “Our History.” It’s interesting, but not what I’m looking for while I’m wearing my journalist hat. Again, there is no press room, but since I struck out with Bank A I discipline myself to press on and go to the contact page to find the main phone number. When I call it, I get a recording and a long menu of options. I frown, hang up, and move on. I don’t have all day.
Both Banks A and B just made my “off the radar” or “black” list. They made me work too hard to find the information I needed. I don’t like that. Also, their website’s seeming lack of sophistication is a cue this bank is still in the social media dark ages.
Bank C’s “About Us” page has the paragraph I need, right at the top of the page. And, they have a press room. Eagerly, I press the navigation button and find a list of links to press releases and PDF reprints of articles published by other media outlets, which is another pet peeve of mine when I’m wearing my journalist hat. Like Bank C’s two competitors, there is no media contact listed on this page or the contact page.
Really frustrated now, I pick up and call three of the many organizations I have on my “bank sources” list. Two CEOs get back to me almost immediately. When the third doesn’t respond, I call a few of their competitors until I get what I need.
What I has hoped to find was the bank’s online press kit. In this “kit” are all the materials a media outlet (or investor, analyst or potential employee) might need when researching an organization.
Here is a list of the types of items that are normally found, at a minimum, in a well constructed online press kit, regardless of the industry you’re in.
Company Overview. This is a one-page document that is your company’s “biography.” It is an informational piece, not a sales pitch. Explain exactly what it is that you do, who you serve, and a brief history. Even if your story is spread around other places on your website, put it here in one document so that it’s handy.
Key Personnel. Include a one- to two-paragraph description of the people in your organization who are resources the media can tap for information or interviews. This might include founders, top management and subject matter experts. Make sure you have nice head shots for each person and insert them next to their biographies.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Remember, your press kit is targeted mainly to the media, not to your customers. What kinds of questions do you think a news interviewer might ask? If you are a subject matter expert or author, you may pose the kinds of questions you would like to be asked if you are a guest on a radio talk show or television interview. Again, writers and producers are time-crunched and it’s very helpful to them if you can do the question development for them.
Fact Sheet. This is a bulleted list highlighting important aspects of your organization, products and services. Because it’s “at a glance,” it makes it easier for the media to assimilate essential information.
Logos, images, Graphics, Footage. Have all of these items available in several formats for easy download. The easier it is to find and download your high quality logo or image, the more likely it is that it will be used. Include high-resolution photos of products, locations and historic events.
A white paper is an educational piece that is not only helpful to industry and trade media, but it also establishes your thought leadership, credibility and subject matter expertise. The media like having experts on tap to help them with source material and interview subjects. Additionally, a white paper has much of the foundational verbiage you can use to create numerous other marketing pieces, such as fact sheets, FAQs, brochures, contributed articles, presentations, videos and website content.
Please create an online press kit, for your own sake. It isn’t terribly difficult, and the benefits are enormous. Let me know if you have questions.
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