Being quoted in a magazine or newspaper article or appearing on TV as a fitness expert greatly increases your credibility and profile in your community and the fitness industry. Plus, having your product or service mentioned on TV or in print is far more powerful for attracting leads and sales than an ad you pay for.
So how do you let members of the media know you are available for article interviews and television appearances? One way is with a press kit. Here’s a step-by-step guide to preparing a professional press kit that gets you noticed.
The Press Release
The press release is a common element of a press kit. It’s a one- to two-page document that communicates newsy information to journalists and, by extension, their audiences.
You might write a press release to announce your book launch, a new interactive website or a fitness device you created. You could also use it to promote a special event at your facility or a new exercise technique that’s helping your personal training clients see impressive results.
Regardless of the topic, the information in a press release must be newsworthy and relevant to the target audience. If journalists detect that a press release is simply a sales pitch, they’ll toss it. To ensure this doesn’t happen to yours, follow the steps below.
Step 1: Know the Audience
Study the media outlets you plan to approach. If a magazine’s target readership is women over age 40, tailor your press release to the needs and interests of that market.
Want press in a community newspaper? Focus on a local news angle. For a TV program, note what kinds of fitness and health stories are on the air. Although the general theme of your press release doesn’t have to change, you may decide to tweak its angle depending on the medium and the market.
Step 2: Promote the Benefits
Once you’re familiar with various media outlets and their respective audiences, it’s time to create your press release. Write with the following questions in mind:
- Why would this audience be interested in this news item right now?
- How does it benefit them?
- How is this news unique from other health and fitness stories already in the media?
Step 3: Write an Attention Grabbing Headline
The headline is an important component of a press release. It’s the hook that keeps people reading. A good headline communicates the significance of your message in one concise sentence.
Busy editors and producers should get the gist of your press release and understand why it benefits the public from reading just the headline.
Step 4: Craft the Lead
An effective opening paragraph, or lead, is essential to a press release’s success. It should contain all the pertinent information. Answer the five Ws: who, what, where, when and why.
For example, imagine that your press release announces the debut of a fitness device you created to work the abdominal muscles without stressing the back. The lead should explain:
- Who invented the device? You, a certified fitness expert.
- What does the equipment do? Strengthens the abs.
- Where does the news come from? This information precedes the lead’s first sentence and looks like this: Vancouver, B.C. (June 2008)—First sentence starts here.
- When does the launch occur? This is the press release’s date of issue or the product launch date (see example above).
- Why is the equipment beneficial to the public? It helps exercisers target their abs while avoiding back injuries.
The rest of the press release should be equally well written, but the information can be more general.
For example, a press release about the benefits of a revolutionary fitness product you invented might end with a few sentences about your company or your fitness background. This information is related but is not essential to the crux of the message.
Step 5: Contact Info and Other Details
Put your contact information on every page and proof it for accuracy. If you include your email address, check messages at least once a day and answer press related emails and phone calls promptly. Journalists on deadline will appreciate and remember your quick response.
The words “For Immediate Release” usually appear at the top of a press release. This tells a journalist that he or she is free to publicize the information right away.
Some people place either the symbols ### or -30- at the end of the document to indicate that it has ended.
Here’s an example of a press release format:
Other Components of a Press Kit
In addition to the press release, your press kit could contain other marketing materials that convey your professionalism, credentials and ability to work with the media. The following is a list of items commonly found in a press kit.
- Supporting Collateral - Tucking a good quality brochure, catalog or flyer in your press kit gives journalists a better sense of what your business or service is about. If you run a personal training business, you might insert one of your client brochures. To promote your fitness facility or a specific group exercise format, add a club newsletter or group exercise schedule. Don’t forget to include a business card.
- Bio and/or Product Information - Prepare a brief personal bio that outlines your role in the community, qualifications, experience and professional affiliations. If the purpose of your press kit is to promote a product (such as a book, fitness tool or DVD) add a one-page product description. Include details such as the product’s price, where it’s available for purchase and what makes it different from similar items on the market.
- Published Clips - Clips are published articles you have authored. Your press kit could also contain pieces that were written by other authors but mention you or your product. Avoid throwing in every clip you have. Rather, select your most impressive and current ones or those most relevant to the target market or purpose of the press kit. Enclose a demo reel on DVD or list your past radio or TV appearances, if you have any. This lets producers know you’re experienced with these types of media.
- Interview Questions - Some press kits contain a sheet with suggested interview questions. For example, if you authored a book on exercise for older adults, your press kit might include a list of interview questions on this topic. This saves the interviewer time in researching and helps you to answer with greater clarity because you have rehearsed your responses.
- Photos and Visuals - You may add a good quality reproduction of your book or DVD cover or a professional picture of yourself. Inserting a photo is most beneficial if you hope to be on TV or photographed for a magazine.
Sending Your Press Kit
After putting a lot of hard work into preparing a professional and attention-getting press kit, the last thing you want is for it to get lost in the shuffle of a busy newsroom, so address the mailing to a specific person.
Send a fitness or health related press kit to the health, lifestyle or fitness editor or producer. If there isn’t one, seek the person in charge of the program segment or magazine section that interests you.
Double check the spelling of his or her name and include a very brief cover letter or introductory note. If you haven’t heard back after three to four weeks, follow up. A quick email is often the best approach since many journalists prefer to avoid unsolicited phone calls.
Electronic Versus Paper
An electronic press kit is beneficial because it cuts the cost of postage, stationery and copying. Online press kits allow writers, editors and producers to reduce paper clutter and also access your information in an instant.
However, sending an unsolicited email with an attached press kit can be risky because virus-wary journalists may delete your message without reading it. One solution is to email editors and producers a link to view your press kit on your website.
Whether you choose to prepare a hardcopy press kit or an electronic one (or both), the more professional it looks and reads, the better your chances of gaining the media attention you want.
Press Coverage Dos and Don'ts
- Answer promptly. The sooner you respond to a journalist on a tight deadline, the more likely you or your product will get mentioned in the story.
- Study media outlets. Tailor the contents of your press kit to match the needs and interests of the target audience.
- Address your press kit to a specific person. Directing your press kit to a specific editor or producer will lessen the chances of it getting lost or misplaced.
- Edit and proofread. It’s imperative that the writing in your press release and other documents be concise and error-free.
- Use jargon. It’s tough to quote experts when they use technical terms or industry jargon. Stick to plain and simple language.
- Send outdated info. An effective press kit contains current news and contact information.
- Become a nuisance. If a journalist decides your press release isn’t appropriate, don’t argue or complain in an effort to change his or her mind.
- Underestimate first impressions. The appearance of your press kit makes a statement about you and your product. Ensure a good first impression by neatly packaging your press kit in a nice looking folder and using only good quality documents.