An electronic press kit (EPK) is just what it sounds like: A traditional press kit used by reporters but in an electronic form. An EPK can take the form of a CD or DVD, a thumb-drive, an e-mail, or a Web site.
Online Press Kits
For our purposes, we will limit the discussion to online press kits, rather than CD/DVDs or thumb drives. Online press kits generally consist of two components, a Web site and an e-mail list of your press contacts. You’ll use your e-mail list to inform your press contacts about your EPK Web site.
Know Your Audience
Like any marketing endeavor, it is important to know your audience in order to give them exactly what they need and expect. You will already know a great deal about your audience based upon your current relationships with reporters, your industry, the types of reporters you’re appealing to, and the beats they cover. All of that knowledge should be taken into account when planning your online press kit.
As with any Web site, your electronic press kit should be visually appealing, professional-looking, and tailored to the specific needs of your audience. Do not underestimate the importance of the visual appeal of your Web site: a 2002 Consumer Web Watch study revealed that nearly half the people in the study assessed the credibility of Web sites “based in part on the appeal of the overall visual design–including layout, typography, font size, and color schemes.”
Don’t Make Journalists Fight For Information
Journalists are a busy lot, and they are getting busier. A 2002 George Washington University survey of reporters’ use of the Internet found more than a third of the journalists surveyed reported that the Internet has created more deadline pressure and nearly a third felt under pressure to produce more stories. The same study revealed that 68 percent of the journalists they surveyed reported spending one to three hours of their workday reading or searching Web sites. And that was in 2002.
One of the fundamental rules of Web site design is to avoid annoying your visitors. This is especially important if your object is to get favorable press. As the study cited above shows, journalists are always pressed for time. Your electronic press kit Web site should make it extremely easy for reporters to get the information they need. The navigation of the site should be obvious and do not require them to fill out a registration form to get the information they want.
And Make Sure You Give Reporters What They Need
The information reporters need the most should be highlighted on the front page. You should make it very easy for them to contact your PR representative (include a phone number and e-mail address where they will be able to get ahold of a live person).
If photographs are important to the type of press coverage you want, be sure to include them on your online press kit; both as thumbnail photos reporters can view online, as well as high-resolution photos they can download and use for print or TV (the same holds true for logos). If video is important to your press coverage, provide that as well; again, make it viewable on the site and let reporters download the video file as well.
Search Engine Marketing
You can expand your media list and broaden your coverage by positioning your EPK in the search engines. The journalists on your media list know who you are but there may be many more journalists you could reach through search engine marketing .
Search engine use is the second most popular online activity, behind only e-mail. Most people find new Web sites by using search engines. Journalists are no exception; in fact, considering the amount of research they do every day, it is logical to assume they use search engines much more extensively than the general public.
Accordingly, your online press kit should be designed so that it is easy for search engines to read and index. Your site should also be optimized for the keywords that are relevant to your EPK, especially those keywords that are likely being used by journalists.
Spread The Word
If your online press kit is tied to an event, you’ll want to allow yourself some lead time to get it listed in the search engines. After you submit your Web site to the major search engines, it may take some time before your site shows up in the search engine results.
If your site is not time-sensitive, then you can spread the word to your media e-mail list and just wait for the search engines to catch up. Keep your message to your media list short and factual and don’t forget to include your EPK’s Web site address! If your online press kit will be used to provide updated information, you can use your media e-mail list to keep reporters informed of new information at the site.