Creating an Informative Press Kit

Think of your press materials as a larger, more encompassing business card that you will hand to the media and policymakers as a reference guide to your program and students. You will be identified and distinguished by the information and documents you provide in this information packet.

It is recommended that you include the following materials as part of a comprehensive press packet to be distributed at events, mailed to media, or provided to policymakers. These materials can also double as informational kits for parents, administrators, or important community or business contacts within your area.

Basic Press Packet

  • Identity brochure to introduce your school to media and policymakers
  • Rolodex card listing district and school spokespersons as sources for reporters
  • Fact sheet with a few pertinent points about your program, school, and district
  • Favorable news clips about your program
  • Bios of school and student leadership
  • Brief Q&A of commonly asked questions addressing your program and school (school technology, safety, academics, policies, etc.)
  • Case studies that highlight the "success stories" of school programs and students
  • Quote/testimonial sheet of parents, community leaders, former students, etc.

School Event Specific Materials

  • Event invitation
  • Event specific media advisory
  • Event specific news release
  • Event agenda
  • Event specific test results (if applicable)
  • Bios of prominent local event participants (i.e., superintendent, school principal, political figure, etc.) (to be provided by the participants)
  • Case study or profile on school program or students being celebrated at event
  • Quote/testimonial sheet of event school/district administrator, teachers, parents, etc.

Writing Releases

One of the best and easiest ways to communicate your message to the news media is by issuing a news release. News releases take little time and involve only minimal expense, yet they build support by encouraging ongoing communication. View a sample news release.

These key steps will assist you in composing a successful news release. Remember, your goal is to gain attention for your story while also demonstrating the value of the story you want to convey to editors and reporters.

1. Grab Attention in the Headline
The best news release headlines are newsy - meaning of interest to readers.

  • A quality headline should express a single newsworthy story in eight words or less, so editors and reporters can understand your point at a glance.
  • Ensure that your headline answers the question: "What happened?"
  • Be sure your verb is strong. The verb - the "what happened" - is the story. It should be the second or third word in the sentence. Don't leave it buried.

2. Sell the Story in the Sub-Head
Once you've gained attention in the headline, use the subhead ,or summary blurb, to sell the story.

  • Select a reader benefit, a secondary news angle or an expansion of the headline for the sub-head angle.
  • Keep it short. Convey a single point in no more than 14 words. That's a length that's easy for reporters to read and understand.
  • Don't repeat words or themes from the headline. Redundancy wastes time reporters don't have.
  • Don't leave out the sub-head. This second layer of information is essential to quickly communicating with today's fast-paced news media. It also reduces the temptation to overload the headline.

3. Pull Them in With Your Lead
An attention-grabbing headline and sub-head will convince reporters to read the first paragraph (called the "lead") of your story. Follow these steps to strengthen your lead:

  • Answer "What happened?" and "Why should the reader care?" in one or two short sentences. Remember, you don't have to explain everything in the lead. That's what the body of the release is for.
  • Don't use the lead to cram in all the facts (the who, what, when, where, why and how) or use the "today announced…" approach. Both methods slow the story down and are too formulaic to stand out from the competition.
  • Consider using the lead to strongly illustrate what benefits the reader. Try this formula: "X (i.e., students), who have struggled with Y (i.e., subject matter or issue), will now be able to Z (i.e., what needs to be done by/for them), thanks to A (i.e., what helped them accomplish it). Following this formula will improve your news release by making it more newsworthy and interesting than a traditional announcement release.

4. Tell the Story in the Body
If the reporter has gotten this far, there is no turning back! Here you should use the body of the release to build the story angle you introduced in the lead.

  • Your lead should flow logically and seamlessly to create a story that successfully conveys your desired message(s). You don't want to end up with a release that is just a bunch of facts thrown together.
  • Don't make abstract claims without backing them up with concrete evidence. Use tangible, quantifiable "proof" - numbers, comparisons, examples and third-party testimonials, for instance.
  • Make your news release as long as it needs to be, but not too long. Target 500 words or less, not counting the school or district boilerplate. If your release is much longer than that, consider breaking it into two pieces or creating a fact sheet that offers more in-depth information.