Back to Basics 2: Digital Press Kits

By Katie Sheehan

Once again I have solicited information from our core of publicists and here are the results. Contributing this time are Lorna Garano, Adrienne Biggs, Karma Bennett (Ulysses Press), and Julie Miller, and myself, Katie Sheehan (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). Please add any input or additional information that you would like to share on the NCBPMA blog. Learn about interactive social networking press releases at

1. Do you use electronic press kits? For example, Constant Contact or any other software?

Adrienne: I am just starting to use Constant Contact instead of group emails for event and product announcements.

Lorna: Yes. I use Constant Contact.

Karma: No, when I send eblasts, I send just the email with information after the signature and an embedded jpg of the book. I avoid sending attachments.

Julie: No, but I am interested in doing this in the future.

Katie: We have just begun to experiment with an interactive press release service called They call themselves a Social PR Platform. They say that they are not just another wire service, but a platform that enables PR to effectively package stories share them with journalists, bloggers, and influencers. We heard about them through an independent publicist, Elise Communications. One cool thing is that you can sign up for free and your interactive press release will stay up for 30 days or there are other options that are reasonably priced. It is easy to embed links to video and other media. It also includes a Twitter feed that you can create, new facts, and a whole host of useful information. A journalist can simply use all of these materials to create a news piece. Here is a link to a press release for one of our books on PitchEngine that was put up by Elise Communications. Check out the cool “about and contact” tab for your company!

2.   Do you put together an entire press kit to send with a pdf of the book – Bio, Press Release, Questions, Talking Points?

Adrienne: I still do hardcopies with links to online equivalents.

Lorna: I generally don’t send pdfs of the book because I find that the media still prefers hard copies. I do a full press kit for each book.

Karma: No. I want to keep it as short and to the point as possible.

Julie: It depends on the reviewer. Everyone gets the text version of the press release in the initial email, but I only send additional materials if the reviewer wants to do more than write a basic review.

Katie: I generally create only a press release to mail with the book or to paste into email. However, I just created a 6 page pitch to the Oprah Winfrey Show that included an extensive bio, show ideas, segment ideas, talking points, FAQ’s and sample chapters.

3.  What kind of links to you include in your releases? Other media links (podcasts, links to TV interviews) author website, book page on the publisher’s website.

Adrienne: I don’t usually have many interview links to include in a press release, because the interviews haven’t usually happened at that point. However, I do include links to the client’s social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, and of course to their homepage.

Lorna: I include links to TV appearances, national print media interviews, authors Web sites, and occasionally to radio interviews.

Karma: Yes to all, if relevant.

Katie: We link to all of the above and also to the author video that we create at BK. It’s on the author’s book page and it is helpful when pitching to broadcast because they can at least get a look a the author and hear the “Big Idea” behind the book.

Julie: The book page on the publisher website, links to audio and/or video (if it exists), and the microsite/blog (again, if it exists).

4. In terms of social media how do you send your press kits out? Link from Twitter, FaceBook, other social media outlets.

Adrienne: Usually via email, however I’m moving over to Constant Contact.

Lorna: I link from Twitter and FB to my blog where I post releases.

Karma: No, I don’t think the people who follow us on Twitter want to read press releases…maybe I am wrong about this (?) but now we just use Twitter to share achieved publicity from our authors.

Julie: Just email, at this time. Facebook doesn’t have a good way to attach documents/materials.

Katie: They are posted on the BK website so then I can Tweet out the link or post on the BK Fan page.

5. Do you post your electronic releases to any particular websites (paid or unpaid)? Does anyone pay to post on PR Wire or any other wire services?

Adrienne: I use BusinessWire for their Entertainment categories (400 characters for $295), but only when I feel the project could benefit from a wire release, and only if the client has a budget to pay for that extra expense.

Karma: Nope. When I have gone to those sites in the past, I haven’t been impressed with what I found there, though I’d be willing to consider it.

Julie: I’ve had good luck with in the past. It’s fairly inexpensive at $80.

Katie: Just about to begin with PitchEngine and Cision.

6. Any other related information that you would like to share about digital releases or social networking related to press releases.

Adrienne: In today’s PR tool kit, I am a strong advocate for every book or event having its own Facebook page or Facebook Event page. Also a Twitter account focused exclusively on the book. And they must be kept fresh and current….social networks are only relevant if you actively participate on them!

Karma: Cision gives you a bunch of points that you can use send out eblasts through them, with all the info embedded. I haven’t used this service yet (though I have a bunch of points saved up). I’d love to hear from Cision users as to how they like it.

Julie: I’d be curious to know if any publishers have released these materials on Scribd or other document-sharing sites, and how that’s working out…

Katie: Some of our authors have put together Digital Press Kits that are very helpful. They include author bio, press release, talking points, questions, links to relevant websites and blogs, most notably the authors. I am sure to collect these from the authors and use them as often as possible. They save time and money!


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