One of my current projects is assembling a new media kit.
As you might know, I have a background in public relations. So I'm keenly aware of the importance of earned media, and have been securing coverage for my clients for quite some time. While I've also secured my fair share of coverage for myself, with changing professional ambitions in my future, doing even more of that is going to be essential.
That's where a media kit can come in handy.
I have a rather diverse business on the publishing side of things, so I plan to create a new site to host this (along with other information about me and my various projects). This way I can link to it from all my blogs, author sites, and freelance sites -- though pen name author sites will get their own when appropriate.
Right now I'm in the process of digging up my media clips because I haven't done the best job maintaining a list of them over the years. It's a fun process where I'm discovering some pretty significant citations I wasn't even aware of (mostly in relation to my public relations work).
But is it worth the effort? Do writers really need to have a media kit?
Let's explore media kits for writers and how they might be helpful to you in various types of writing and publishing work.
What is a Media Kit?
A media kit, in its simplest sense, is a collection of information that tells members of the media why they should care about you. It answers questions such as:
- Who are you?
- What have you done or accomplished?
- Why are you newsworthy?
- Why are you an expert source I should cite or interview?
- How can I reach you if I want to cover, quote, or interview you?
There is no single correct format for a media kit. It might be a .pdf download. It might be a physical collection of documents. Or, more likely these days, it will be a collection of online documents and references on your website, accessible to members of the media 24/7.
Do Writers Need a Media Kit?
It doesn't matter if you're a freelance writer, an author, or a blogger. If you're a writer, and you want media coverage of any kind, having a media kit is a good idea.
Here's how having a media kit might be helpful for different types of writers:
As a freelancer, your interest in media coverage isn't simply tied to the fact that you're a writer. It's also about your specialty or area of expertise.
Let's use me as an example. Yes, I happen to focus part of my business on helping other writers. So it makes sense for my media kit to include things like quotes and interviews on major writing blogs or references in writers' magazines.
But when it comes to specialties, you might look at the PR and social media side of my work. While I don't officially consult anymore, I'm still rather active in those communities through my writing, related client work, and the various web properties I own. So it also makes sense for me to include media references and interviews related to that specialty area -- from magazine and newspaper citations to radio and podcast interviews.
Why would I want to include some of those references in my media kit? It tells members of the media -- from traditional journalists to bloggers -- that they can come to me when they need a source to talk about those things. And when I receive further coverage in that area, it helps me attract even more clients to my freelance services.
You can do the same. The key is to target media outlets your ideal freelance prospects read, watch, or listen to.
If you're an indie author, your media kit is about two things: your books, but also you. This is especially true if you publish nonfiction where media exposure based on your subject matter expertise can help you sell books.
But it can also be important for some authors of fiction -- for example if you have experience in the industry your novel's protagonist works in (like a history as a forensic scientist if you write crime novels).
Those are cases where your media kit needs to emphasize you as the author in addition to your books. But a focus on your books' past media coverage tells journalists that you're worth covering in other outlets too. So if you get good press, you'll want a media kit to highlight that.
In the case of authors, your media kit is also a great place to make artwork and background information available to reviewers so they don't each have to contact you for it directly.
Bloggers generally focus on a specific nonfiction niche. In this case your media kit serves a similar purpose of that of a nonfiction author. It's about helping you gain exposure and recognition as an authority in your specialty area.
That, in turn, can help you sell books, e-books, courses, or other products through your blog because it gives readers more of a reason to trust you (and can send more visitors your way).
What Should a Writer's Media Kit Include?
You've decided to create a media kit to promote your writing business. Now what should you put in it? Here are some suggestions based on the type of writing you're trying to promote:
- Interviews with you about your area of expertise
- Quotes from you in publications
- Important references to your business, website, or work (such as being named a top freelancer in your specialty area by a relevant publication)
- Your professional bio
- A high-resolution photo
- Freelance credits related to your specialty area (though I'd make sure they're clearly labeled freelance bylines and not treated as earned media coverage)
- Key endorsements or testimonials (from people in your specialty area -- not clients)
- Any press releases you've put out recently
- Media contact information (how you want to be reached; include social media accounts)
- Your author bio
- A list of your published books
- High-resolution photos of book covers and your author photo
- A list of any awards won
- A list of past press mentions
- Interviews related to your books or area of expertise
- Your latest press releases
- A list of suggested interview questions about you or your book
- Frequently asked questions (and answers to them)
- A excerpt from each book
- Sales figures of past books if they're significant enough to gain media interest
- Information on your target readers so journalists and bloggers know if your books are a good fit for their own audience
- Media contact information (including social media contact info)
- Your bio
- A history or backgrounder on your blog (how long has it existed, what's its purpose, who does the target readership include, how many readers do you reach, etc.?)
- Any important quotes or citations from you in other publications in your niche
- Links (or references) to interviews with you
- A high-resolution photo
- A list of any awards your blog has won (while real awards are better than being named to "top" lists on other sites, there's no harm in naming those; focus on lists from major media sources, then well-known blogs or sites in your niche; being listed on relatively-unknown sites doesn't matter from a media perspective)
- Information about your typical readers
- A collection of your past press releases
- Links to guest posts on key industry sites (again, major media sites and large niche or industry sites matter most here; and these should be clearly labeled as what they are instead of any kind of earned coverage)
- Media contact information (including social media contact information)
Media Kits vs Media Rooms
You may have also heard the terms "media room" or "newsroom." These are similar to media kits, but they're online and more interactive. This is what mine will most likely morph into when it's finished.
A media room, for example, might include a blog where press releases and media mentions are featured as they happen. This way it's always up-to-date with dynamic content. Or you might set up an email subscription option for members of the media to get your latest news in their inboxes.
You might even set up a live online chat tool to let members of the media contact you immediately when you're online if they have quick questions or want to set up interviews. You might also include multimedia elements like video and audio segments (particularly important if you're hoping to land radio and TV spots because you'll want to show you know how to handle those kinds of interviews as a guest).
Your media room might also feature live updates embedded from key social media profiles. And ideally you'll want all of your press information there to be searchable.
Whether you should go with a traditional media kit or a more interactive online newsroom simply depends on what kind of coverage you want to feature and what kind of coverage you're hoping to secure in the future. But my recommendation is to keep it as interactive as possible. It's not something I see many writers do effectively, so it's a way to set yourself apart.
Putting Your Media Kit to Work
Here's the thing about media kits and newsrooms: simply having one isn't enough. In order for it to help you expand your visibility as a writer, it needs to be visible in its own right.
How can you do that?
First, get it on your website. In this day and age there's no reason for you to only have a print media kit to hand out. Put together a digital newsroom or EPK (electronic press kit) that can be found by journalists, bloggers, and anyone else who might need this information.
Make sure the media section of your website is prominently linked from all pages (even if it's hosted separately or on a third party service). If you can include a "Media" link in your main navigation bar, do it. You can tuck it as a sub-menu item under your About page (and link to it from that page) if you absolutely must. But also include a link in your footer either way; that's a common place for them so it's somewhere visitors are likely to check.
Even that isn't enough though. Make your media kit content as search engine friendly as possible. When people search for images of you, make sure your newsroom's high-resolution photo collection comes up. When they search for your books, make sure your book's official cover art and backgrounders come up. When people want information on you, your bio should be fairly easy for them to find.
Finally, whenever you put out a press release, send media event invitations, or have any other contact with members of the media, include a link to your media kit or newsroom. This might be a direct mention of it or even keeping a link to it in your email footer if you're frequently in touch with journalists and bloggers.
On that note, don't forget to get out there and start networking with members of the media in your industry or region. The best PR efforts always revolve around relationships.
Along those lines, the best media relations involve you making journalists' lives easier. Your media kit is more about helping the media than it is about you.
What are your thoughts on media kits for writers? Do you have one? Has it helped you land any additional coverage? Do you regularly update it? If you think it's a good example for other writers, feel free to mention its URL / web address in the blog comments.