What is a Press Kit?

A press kit is a set of documents that is targeted directly at the media. If you want journalists, editors and broadcasters to take an interest in you, they will want some newsworthy nuggets of information backed up with clear and simple facts about yourself.

Yes they might find some information if they take the trouble to trawl through your website or locate your leaflets. But journalists work to tight deadlines and most of them haven't got time to search for a story in the blizzard of publicity material that lands on their desks and desktops.

The press kit makes life easy for them. It gives them a story and it gives them the facts.

Give a journalist a decent press kit and s/he will love you forever!

Why do I need one?

Because you need the media on your side.

Nothing hacks off a journalist more than websites and leaflets full of prosaic description of the essence of your musical inspiration when all they really want to know is who you are and why your next CD release is worth writing about.

Your website and promotional material may appeal to your existing fan base - people who already know you and love you.

But fans are fickle. All it takes is for them to get married, have kids or die, and they'll stop coming to your concerts. You always need new fans and people won't dig your music unless they hear it or read about it.

A decent press kit makes that much more likely to happen. It will not only encourage journalists to write about you, but also broadcasters and DJs to play your music, tour organisers to take you on and venues to book you. Press the right buttons for these people and the fans will surely follow!

What do journalists look for in information about you and your band?

Basically two things - a good story and clear background information. The press kit should provide both.

'We have released a new album' is usually a pretty boring news story - unless you're Elvis.

'We have released the greatest album since the invention of music' might strike you as a good story but a journalist will see it for what it is - hype - and will probably put it in the hype file, otherwise known as the shredder.

'We have released a new album, in which we play a fusion of Celtic, country and calypso, backed by a male voice choir from Bulgaria' might be of more interest to a news editor. The music may be awful of course, but there is a potential here for a good newsy story.

As for the background information, journalists need facts, plain and simple. A rundown of the band's line-up, an easy-to-read biography and discography (with highlights of your career clearly indicated), a sentence or two summing up your music and style, information on where and when you're appearing - these are all grist to the mill. Journalists also love interesting 'factoids', e.g. your record got to number 1 in Nepal, your drummer played triangle in the same school orchestra as Noel Gallagher, etc.

What will I get from a PCWillow Online Press Kit?

Our online press kit (OPK) provides a good story and great background. The story is presented as a media-friendly press release, offering a strong news angle with clear explanation and including a quote or two from you. If you sign up for 'maintenance', we will produce a new press release every four to six weeks.

The background is more detailed information about you and usually includes:

  • an 'elevator pitch'; i.e. a short, engaging description that 'sells' you to     the reader in the time it takes to ride an elevator (that's American for     using the lift!)
  • basic details of your band's line-up
  • a potted biography
  • tour information (regularly updated)
  • a discography (also updated)
  • quotes from reviews (if you have any good ones!)
  • contact information

    The kit also includes high-resolution photographs suitable for the press and, if you pay a little extra, some MP3 clips to give the media an indication of what you actually sound like.

    What are the benefits of a press kit that's online?

    Apart from the obvious advantages of distribution and saving rain-forests, your OPK is downloadable and updatable! At the click of a mouse button, media people can access, copy and paste information, download high-resolution photos and even listen to your music.

    And if the kit is well-maintained, they can be assured that your information is up-to-date, that your gig list is accurate and that there haven't been any line-up changes since this information was published.

    What's the difference between an OPK and a web site?

    Websites are essentially promotional devices. Glossy websites often try to reproduce an experience that encapsulates the style and essence of your band's music and approach to life. They may contain clever flash effects and interactive devices. The more self-indulgent ones may include lengthy tour diaries, which will interest die-hard fans but will bore the pants off most journalists.

    Websites often try to do several jobs in one go, giving you lots of links to archives, past tours, album reviews, galleries of photographs (mostly of little use to magazines and newspapers) and links to MySpace pages, blogs, favourite websites and pages of trivia, outlining band members' star signs and favourite fast food chains. There's a simple rule of websites - the more complicated they are, the more journalists hate them.

    But include one prominent link - 'Click here for our Press Kit' - and journalists will breathe a sigh of relief.

    What is 'maintenance' and why is it worth paying for?

    Maintenance means updating. This is something that we'll do with your press kit every four to six weeks to ensure that the information is always topical and relevant to the media. We'll regularly check your website and/or MySpace page for updated tour information but we'll also call you or email you to check that everything on the OPK is accurate and up-to-date.

    One item included in the press kit is at least one downloadable press release, offering a story about you with a strong news angle. Even if there's little change to your information after six weeks, we'll discuss story ideas with you and come up with a news item that will help to keep your media profile high.

    Can I maintain my own OPK?

    No - leave it to the professionals!

    When you sign up for a PCWillow press kit, you are not only paying for web space and a neat layout, you are also benefiting from our skills and media experience. The OPK is designed by Chele Willow, who has built up a strong reputation as a web designer, photographer and all-round 'visualiser' since she moved to the UK. The copy is written by Pete Willow, a very experienced music columnist and features writer with expertise as a lecturer and practitioner in music PR.

    We believe that it's in our interest - and yours - that the media associate PCWillow press kits with 'newsworthiness', topicality, accuracy in writing style and professionalism. Producing images and writing copy that appeals to journalists is what we do and what you pay for. We will consult with you regularly and respond to your own ideas and suggestions on what goes into the kit. Then we will present that information in a style and format that increases your chances of media coverage.

    And if you don't like what we produce, tell us and we'll change it.

    Why is the OPK designed the way it is?

    A PCWillow press kit is based on a simple and accessible design. All the information that a journalist needs is easily accessible from a bar of links at the top of the page. The text is presented in a font style and size that can be read and understood quickly. The font is always black against a light background to make it easier for journalists to copy and paste extracts into their own publishing programmes. We don't produce pdf press releases because you can't copy and paste text from pdf files.

    Click onto 'photos' and you'll find a small selection of thumbnails, usually two colour and two black and white. Click onto each of these and you'll download a high-resolution version that will meet the quality standards for any newspaper or magazine.

    Why doesn't the press kits include lots of photos?

    Editors look for quality rather than quantity. They don't have time to wade through a big gallery of thumbnail images wondering which will look best when downloaded. They can go to your website for that. A PCWillow press kit offers a basic choice of two or three images that will always look good on the printed page - your 'official' media images if you like. Of course, these can always be changed and updated as part of the regular maintenance of the kit.

    Can I use my own photos?

    Of course, although we will advise on their quality and composition and whether the media are likely to use them. Remember, if you sign up for a portfolio of Chele Willow photographs and use some of these in your press kit, you will get a substantial discount.

    Should I include mp3s?

    This is an optional extra. It's always useful for media people to get an indication of what you sound like and we can certainly provide a package of 30-second audio clips if you want them. Longer clips are not normally necessary to give a good impression of your sound. Of course, if you want journalists to review your latest CD, we will arrange to post them a copy of the CD itself.

    If I sign up for a basic package, can I upgrade later?

    Of course you can! You can add MP3s and a regular maintenance service at any time and we will also offer you a great discount if you later decide to go for a Chele Willow photo portfolio or a MySpace page designed and maintained by us.

    Can I link the OPK to my own website and MySpace page?

    Certainly. We will include links to any other websites in the "contact information" section of the press kit.

    Can I add video clips?

    Not yet but we may introduce this option soon. Watch this space!

    I've noticed other online or electronic press kits on the market. Why should I go for PCWillow?

    Most electronic press kits provide web space and a format but you are expected to write your own copy and do your own maintenance. Sign up with PCWillow and you will get regular consultation on your media profile and we will write and update the copy according to what you tell us.

    Don't forget that if you also sign up for the photograph portfolio and/or the MySpace page service, you can earn a significant discount.

    A PCWillow online press kit is much more than a set of electronic documents. It is a complete support package for your media relations, based on service that is both professional and personalised.