Press kits - who needs 'em? Well, everybody from the media to the majors. Your press kit will tell them what you would, if they'd take your calls.
The key elements of a press (promotional) kit remain pretty constant:
- up-to-date biography
- 8x10 photograph
- press clippings/quotes
- your CD, DVD or USB stick
Let's start with #1. Your bio is your band's "resume", and should cover a lot of the same type of ground:
- what you've done (made a CD, played various places, appeared in interviews, and possibly how the band came together)
- what your skills and strengths are (musically!)
- what your goals are
It's a good idea to include a paragraph somewhere that neatly summarizes the bio, e.g. "This young six-piece from Seattle combines R&B roots, jazz fusion and smokey female vocals topped off with soulful lyrics." This simplifies the job of those writing articles or looking for something to pass on to the DJ, and this way they'll summarize it just like you want them to. And while no one likes to "label" themselves, the reader will want to know how you see yourselves.
Leave out anything that isn't pertinent. (While it's heartwarming to know that you own six dogs and a cat, this isn't the place to announce it. Unless you're Madonna, then you can talk about anything you want.)
And please skip the cheesy X-Files analogies unless you can do them really, really well.
Keep it to one or two pages, spaced and sized so that it's easy to read, and make sure any background graphic art does not interfere with the text. Spellcheck, spellcheck, spellcheck.
#2 - Photograph. Black and white works well for any purpose. An uncluttered shot works best, keeping in mind that publications will size you down. Visual media (TV, magazines, etc.) will want an ACTUAL photograph, not a laser copy, for reproduction purposes. Anyone else you're aiming to impress should also get an original. Laser copies are fine for general use as long as they're not grainy or dark.
#3 - Press Clippings: Look at how much you have. If there's a lot of it, sort through and keep the best. Most people don't have time to read through fifteen pages of press. A good technique is to select quotes from each article (including the byline) and compile them on 1 or 2 pages. They will be more likely to get read, and there's a rather nice impression left by reading a continuous string of glowing compliments, uncluttered by other stuff.
#4 - We covered CD design in the last Session. If you're sending out demos, whether CD or cassette version, make sure they are marked with your copyright notice, band name, phone number. If you can come up with an insert, list track titles (and all songwriter credits if you're sending it in search of a recording or publishing deal.)
The container: you can go with a basic folder, or have one custom imprinted with a colour photo, logo, etc. etc. If you're preparing a fair number of kits, look into the price of custom jobs. This is the first thing that's gonna hit their eye.
Stickers/posters/postcards…Most people aren't going to display these until they're fans, but these items are useful in showing that you're working at self-promotion, and how serious you are.
Beware of poster creases.
Pens and other assorted gadgets: If they're useful, they're a good idea. (Nobody's gonna throw a pen away.)
"Creative" insertions: if your band's name is "Bubblegum" and you throw some in the package, more power to you. Attention-grabbers are good.
Go for consistency. Tie the package together with your band name/graphic, colours, and type of paper you use. Stick your contact information on everything. Your photo will be sent for scanning, bio to the interviewer, pen to the courier guy…you can throw in a business card for good measure.
Then take a hard look at your finished package. Is it a good representation of the image you're going for?
Keep it up to date. If you've got a lot happening, only print as many as you need right now.
Finally, if you don't have a way with words, enlist help for your bio. There are people who do it for a living!