Successfully Selling Yourself: How To Build A Press Kit

Are you an artist, designer, a musician, or a small business owner? Do you have a product or cause you’d like to promote? A press kit is an invaluable resource if you want to take your vision to the next level and set yourself apart from the rest of the competition.

Depending on your chosen industry, a press kit may also be referred to as a media kit, artist pack or press pack. There are slight differences between these, but overall, it’s simply a marketing tool composed of an informational packet about your business / product / what you do that is designed to be forwarded to an organization or media outlet (and for my purposes, stores and art galleries).

The goal of a press kit is to effectively answer the Five Ws:

1. Who are you? 2. What are you promoting? 3. When do you need the promotion (and a response)? 4. Where are you looking for promotion? 5. Why are you seeking it?

A press kit is like a fancy extended résumé that can include a folder, letter of interest, copies of articles and press releases, a CV / résumé, business card(s), a CD (of images, music, promotional materials, etc.), a standard-sized color print-out of what you’re promoting (optional), an artist card / postcard (extra credit!), a freebie / leave behind item, and anything else you deem necessary to grab the addressee’s attention. A press kit will need to be tailored to fit your product’s needs so this is by no means a complete list of what to include.

To give you an idea of what a press kit has the potential to look like, I’ve included an example below of what I use to promote my art to galleries:

An overview (the folder, press releases and freebie item are not shown). Also, my press kit doesn’t use the #10 envelope you see above for mailing folders, but an oversized manilla version instead.

1. A Folder

A standard-sized folder with a business card slot works well for a press kit. It’s compact, easy to navigate, and keeps your presentation nice and organized, especially if you’re mailing it. Some people put together fancy books, but since my art information evolves so rapidly, I’ve found that a folder works best so current printouts can be changed out with little hassle. Additionally, a folder can easily be tailored to fit each addressee’s needs. There are some basic choices here. I’ve ordered the linen finish folders from them in the past and they are of a very nice quality and affordable. If you have some extra money in your budget, sometimes a personalized folder embossed or printed with your logo is a viable option. Many online businessess will do this; here’s an example.

2. Letter of Interest

Who are you and what do you do? Why should the reader be interested in what you’re doing and how does it relate to them? Provide some brief background information. Keep a basic form letter (or two) on hand and always tailor it to the addressee in some way. Show them that you’ve done your research (if you know nothing about them, Google is your new best friend). Make the letter short, sweet, and personalized. Refer to the addressee by name. Tell them why you’d be honored to get reviewed / interviewed / have them carry your widget / art / clothing line. Once the letter is printed, personally sign it. Small details like this show the reader that you care.

3. Press Releases / Articles of Interest

If you’ve been written up in the past, include copies of those articles. Also, past press releases are always helpful because they give the recipient an idea of how to compose future information about you. It also saves them valuable time from researching basic details.

4. CV / Résumé

What are your credentials in your chosen field? Have you participated in past events / shows / do you have a client list? Where did you go to school? Make sure that your name, website, and other contact information is clear and legible at the top of the page. Contacting you should be painless! If possible, try to keep a résumé whittled down to one page. Since my CV / résumé example is aimed towards galleries, I include all the information you see here.

If you need some tips, Gala Darling recently wrote How to Make Your CV Impressive on how to add some personality and Life Clever shows you how to give your résumé a facelift. Take all tips lightly, learn what you can, and always customize your résumé to be an extension of yourself. If you have strong design skills, do the world a favor and don’t compose it in MS Word! Please skip the pre-made templates and use InDesign or Illustrator instead.

5. Business Card(s)

This is your most important asset because it immediately defines who you are to the viewer. Your logo, the choice of typography, the weight, and the finish of the card all give the recipient immediate clues. If this isn’t your specialty, hire a designer to create an identity- it will be money well spent. Spend a good amount of time developing your cards. Who’s your target market? Is your logo legible? Is your contact information in a simple, easy to read typeface that’s at least 6 points in size? Do you want a glossy or matte finish? Regular or rounded corners? A single or double-sided format? And finally, a vertical or horizontal format?

I keep a stack of various business cards people have given me over the years for inspiration. When you’re out shopping or eating, grab a card from that business on the way out to add to your files.It’s okay to develop multiple styles of business cards for different situations. At the moment, I have three versions:

A. a two-sided version for handing out to prospective clients:

B. A one-sided version that’s bolder in design for leaving behind at coffee shops, bars, and other places where shelf appeal is needed, and 3. another that is super clean and horizontal (with no distracting details) for my press kit folder slot:

The source I go through for all of my cards is Overnight Prints. Besides a quick turnaround time, the prices are affordable, some of the add-ons are free, and rounded corners are only $2.00 per 100 cards. There are pre-made templates in many popular formats on the site for you to make sure the bleeds are correct, too.

When you have the choice between matte and glossy finishes, matte is much more elegant and classic. Rounded corners are a nice designer touch with little extra cost. Unless they’re part of a logo, skip decorative typefaces including Papyrus, Comic Sans and Zapfino! Double-sided cards are great because you can include a defining image on one side and save all of your contact information for the other. And finally, never scrimp on cardstock / the weight of the paper.

6. CD

A CD is only necessary if a selection of images / music / extra documents are needed. I usually include a CD of high resolution art images I’m promoting for a show. This makes potential online promotion for the gallery much easier. Additionally, providing digital documents means that the promoter already has materials to forward to their (email) mass mailing list and other online sources. If you choose to include a CD, design a label for the top. Always include your name, website and a title of the contents. There’s nothing worse than a CD without a label getting chucked into a pile, never to surface again!

7. Color Print-Out / Product Overview (optional)

Depending on how tech-savvy your press kit recipient is, sometimes a color print-out of what you’re promoting can do wonders because it provides immediate gratification! For instance, I place images of my most current art pieces on a single sheet with a logo and contact information so the viewer gets a quick feel for what it looks like. Because color printing can be spendy, don’t fret too much if you can’t include one, but do include the CD instead.

8. Artist’s Card / Postcard (extra credit!)

This is by no means necessary, but if you’re an artist, havng oversized cards printed up will do wonders. These are similar to model cards at agencies- they are meant to be tacked up by people who love your work and often will get you noticed at galleries. These are much bigger than postcards and are not designed for mailing purposes. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to artist’s cards, postcards are great- besides, they’re perfect for following up with prospective clients and an efficient alternative to the old fashioned thank you note.

Matte two-sided artist card promoting the Black & White Graphic Insight series with rounded corners

9. A Freebie / Leave-Behind

Everybody loves a gift, no matter how small. Show the press kit recipient that you value the time they took away from their busy schedules to view your work. A pin or a sticker are perfectly fine. If your ‘gift’ is functional and useful, even better!

3 inch die-cut Mouth with Pill logo sticker included in press kit

There’s no right or wrong way to make a press kit. It’s all about your vision; give it some personality! Your press kit is a visual representation of who you are and it doesn’t need to be overly fancy or take hours to assemble. Some words of encouragement: I’ve presented press kits for freelance work and and also mailed a few for art purposes. Almost always, I’ve gotten the response I was seeking. Think along the lines of practicality, simplicity, and professionalism. Your message should be the most important part of your kit; don’t lose it in flashy wrappings and graphics. Yes, you’re in charge of your own destiny, but sometimes it just needs a little push!

3 Responses to Successfully Selling Yourself: How To Build A Press Kit

  1. EJ Ogenyi says:

    Thank you for this Shauna. I did a Google search for “putting together a media kit Nubby Twiglet” because I knew that you would have exactly what I needed to get the gist of what to put together to send out to media outlets for potential writing/editorial work to help promote my Lifestyle Coaching business.

    Thanks for the great work and have a wonderful day.

  2. Hi, Shauna:

    Excellent work! My “Writing for the Workplace” students have to create a Media Kit on their own, and I know they will appreciate your professional sample and commentary.

    Much success!


    William D. Prystauk
    Assistant Professor of English
    Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

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