September 29, 2011

How To Make a Press Kit

You've probably heard the term press kit before and if you want to work in publicity it is something you should get comfortable with putting together. If you don't you should still know what it is and understand its contents and role so that's what today's post is about.

A press kit is basically a compilation of a lot of information about a musician or band that is sent out to press contacts to try to get a story, interview, feature, or any other press item. Versions of a press kit are also used to book shows, attract labels, get sponsorships etc. However, the contents of these press kits may vary slightly so today I just want to focus on the most basic version.

The list of items you should generally include in a press kit:


Press Release
This is the most basic and will tell a publicist what the band's story is and why they should be featured. It needs to be well-written, clear, concise, and compelling. Some papers will actually just print your press release as a story without making any changes, so make sure it's good and you are happy with it.  I'll go over press releases in more detail later and walk you through how to write one.

Photos
This doesn't mean a Myspace style cell phone picture in your mirror. There's actually a lot to consider when choosing good band photos. Do you have a lead singer and is he or she prominently featured? Does everyone look good? Is the lighting good? Does the image represent your brand, sound, and lifestyle well? Will it actually look good printed in a paper or reproduced at any size?

These should be taken by a professional, or at least a photography student and should be high quality. You will need digital files handy as well to send electronically. Some say that the standard is to send black and white in a press kit. I think that's risky. Color photos can always be turned black and white if needed but as far as I'm aware (correct me if you know otherwise) you can't easily make a black and white image color again.
Music
This is a no brainer. But, make sure that what you send is in line with what you are seeking. If you want an album review don't send a single. This should be quality work, recording, and packaging because most won't take you seriously otherwise.
Bio
This tells about the band, their history, their sound, where they are from, etc. Again it needs to be very well written, compelling, clear, and concise.
Cover Letter
This isn't always necessary depding on the circumstance but it is polite and gives you an opportunity to explain why you think your music and story would be a good fit with this press outlet.
Clippings
Clippings are previous news stories about your band and they help build credibility. Another way I've seen this done, especially if you have a lot of clippings, is through quote sheet that pulls highlights from many articles and cites the source and publication information.

One Sheet
One sheets are really more retail focused but they can be used in other circumstances as well so I am including them here. These really deserve their own post as well but they are essentially a resume for a record release. It is literally one sheet that gives a summary of all the relevant information such as a biography, press quotes, a UPC code, promotional plans, etc.

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