Thursday, May 14, 2009

Media kit creation is a team sport.

Effective media kits are something that you must help to create. And you can do it, even if you've never written a media kit or even seen one. A book publicist will take the lead, but you should take an active part in the media kit creation process -- whether or not your book publicist explicitly invites your participation. That will ensure that you'll be satisfied with the results, and you'll have the winning media kit that you can stand behind.

A media release focuses on a particular angle rather than on your entire book. Only you know for certain what you'd like that focus to be. Your book publicist will have an idea or two about the main thrust of the media kit -- he or she typically has read your book and spoken with you, and knows what's likely to get the attention of the media and book buyers -- but your vision (and your goals about how you want the media to perceive you) is what matters most.

The media kit represents your book and you, and it helps to shape your image and build your brand. Your reputation is at stake every time someone reads it, and that ultimately makes it your responsibility.

Your book publicist may have a great track record in the publicity business, but he or she is unlikely to create the perfect media kit for you without your thoughtful input. Your book publicist can get the ball rolling by creating a competent first media kit draft, but your participation should kick in even before your book publicist begins to conceptualize the release. Here are a few of the key contributions you can offer:

∙ Media hooks. Your publicist tunes into the media's news sources and knows what's going on in the world. But you know which current events are most likely to resonate with you, and which news stories you feel the most passionate about. If there's something going on in the news (or there's an event that's about to take place) that you'd like to emphasize in your book promotion campaign, then let your book publicist know. Your book publicist can incorporate that news hook into your media kit, and you can offer quotations (which can take the form of comments on the news story) that will work well for the release, too.

∙ Language and concepts. Are there key phrases and ideas that come up frequently in your line of work or your area of expertise? Don't make your book publicist figure them out -- provide a list of the words and ideas that should make their way into the media kit.

∙ Questions. Book publicists often include suggested interview questions in media kits for the journalists' benefit. You know what you'd like Jay Leno to ask you if you're sitting on his couch .... your publicist can only guess what those questions might be. Imagine that Jay (or your favorite talk show host) is asking the questions most likely to elicit the information you want to provide, and deliver those questions to your book publicist. Good questions, your book publicist can create. The questions you want the media to ask you, your book publicist can only guess at -- unless you make them clear.

∙ Story ideas. Your book is filled with possibilities for media stories. Although your publicist can guess which stories you want the media to pursue, you should establish (or, at least, strongly suggest) the direction and let your publicist know which avenues are the most attractive to you. Your book publicist can easily and smoothly work them into the media kit.

As a publicist, I read every client's book before I begin to work on the media kit. I think about how the book's content might tie into current events or news happenings as I'm reading. I highlight paragraphs, flag pages, and note specific passages. I do my homework before I start to create the media kit. And, because I have a sense of what's likely to work as part of a media kit, I'm glad to put together a media kit draft that serves as a launching pad for the final product.

Once I've sent my clients the first media kit draft, I expect them to read it with an open mind. The draft isn't going anywhere ... it's only a starting point.

It's the client's responsibility to actively get involved in the media kit's creation so that the second draft will be better than the first. No media materials are leaving my desk until I have my client's approval, and I hope I won't have that approval until my client loves what we have created together.

I ask my clients to get back to me with their suggested edits (most of my clients use MS Word's "track changes" mode to accomplish this) that reflect their vision, ideas, branding, expertise, and media goals. I incorporate those editorial suggestions into the next draft of the media kit, add my own edits, send it back to the client ... and so the revision process goes.

The media-kit-in-progress makes its way, via email, between the book publicist and the client for as long as it takes -- usually, about two days -- until we've created a tightly woven, exciting media kit that delights both the book publicist and the client.

Yes, a book publicist potentially could create a decent media kit alone. But that shouldn't be good enough. And that doesn't reflect the way that I prefer to work, nor does it reflect the way you'd want me to work. I want the author or publisher to participate in the media kit creation process so that everyone involved will be thrilled with the results.

Media kit creation is a subjective process. How can a book publicist know what an author or a publisher is hoping for unless the client offers specific ideas and suggestions for creating the ideal media package?

In short, an author/publisher who is willing to participate in the creation of a media kit will surely be happy with the results and will be more than repaid for his or her investment of time and energy. Those who do not will likely be disappointed with the results, no matter how competent and creative the book promotion specialist who is involved.

So provide your book publicist with your ideas before, and during, the book promotion process. You'll love the results, and your book promotion campaign's success will reflect your efforts.

You know how you’d like the media to see you, and your book publicist knows how to make it happen. Your knowledge and your publicist’s book promotion experience: that's the winning combination.