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Developing a press pack

17 June 2005

Putting together a good press pack, containing background materials and resources about your organisation, can help journalists quickly gather information they need and hence improve your chances of good coverage.

It's an excellent platform to explain what you do and what it is that sets you apart from the crowd.

Also, remember to include contact details for your organisation, so that journalists can get in touch if they need more information.

Broadly speaking, you should include the following:

1. The 'corporate backgrounder'

Normally no longer than one side of A4, this should give basic, background information about your company - its history, structure, product and service range and philosophy.

The key watch words for a good backgrounder are brevity, relevance and accessibility. You need to get across the right information in a catchy and engaging way.

Communicating your key messages is obviously important, but try to prove the qualities you are claiming rather than just stating them.

Clearly highlight what is unique about your organisation, using phrases like "We're the first organisation to offer X in the UK" or "We're the biggest supplier of X in Y".

Think about what makes you different and what information a journalist might use as interesting background for an article.

Quantify and illustrate your points. Use noteworthy statistics and details to bring key messages to life, develop your company's character and hence engage the journalist.

For instance, "We offer 100 spa treatments ranging from a relaxing mud scrub inspired by ancient Celtic fertility rites to a high impact Mongolian body massage" will have far greater impact than "We have an exceptional spa offer".

Remember that using bullet points and lists can be a good way of communicating different information clearly and effectively.

2. Biographies

The media loves the human dimension to an organisation, so a few biographies of key staff (particularly those who are company spokespeople) should also be included in press packs.

In a hotel, profiled staff will probably be the general manager and the chef - though if you have another prominent member of staff with an interesting story (for instance, an extraordinarily long-serving waiter or concierge), then they may also be included.

Again, keep things brief and relevant. Journalists won't want a life story, just a flavour of what is interesting about your star members of staff.

3. Photography

Good photography can get across the quality and distinctiveness of your offer far more effectively as words. It's also something newspapers and magazines are always looking for.

For hotels, often the photography used in marketing materials of rooms and facilities will be fine to accompany most product-focused releases.

It is also worth getting some professional shots of your key staff -head and shoulders shots of your spokespeople may be used if a journalist quotes them in an article.

Dynamic, action shots - for example, showing your head chef in action - may also be useful.

It's best to provide the photography on CD. The press will require print quality resolution - 300dpi or more. Also take care to catalogue the photos so that every image is supplied with a description of who or what is in the photo.

This can be provided as an insert in the CD case, or as a separate A4 sheet in the press pack.

4. Case studies / additional information

It may also be appropriate to include some case studies or additional information to illustrate what your organisation offers in more detail.

These can give you the opportunity to elaborate on a key message. For instance, a hotel might provide a detailed description of its spa treatments or a restaurant might include a sample menu with pricing.

Only include information that is really exceptional and reflects what is special about your organisation.

For instance, including a sample menu with a fairly run-of-the-mill selection will probably cause more harm than good.

SUMMARY: Top tips for a great press pack

1. Keep all material accessible and relevant for a journalist
2. Avoid marketing puff - illustrate your claims with interesting examples or statistics
3. Provide an interesting snapshot of key staff in biographies
4. Invest in professional photography, caption the shots appropriately, and provide as hi-res jpgs
5. Only include additional case studies or information that are exceptional or unique

Neil Coffey is a consultant with travel PR experts BANC Communications. He can be contacted on neil.coffey@banc.co.uk.

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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