Electronic Press Kit Requirements for Food Brands
For any brand, generating authentic media attention is an integral part of growing brand awareness and driving company growth targets. In the day and age of social media advertising, however, many smaller brands are unfortunately foregoing the traditional media outlets in order to prioritize social media posts. According to one study, brands and businesses across the United States spent more than $89 billion in 2019 on social media marketing. This is expected to see an annual growth rate of 8.7 percent and will likely reach $102 billion by 2020.
Connecting with potential customers and clients via social media channels should obviously be part of a holistic publicity and marketing strategy for your brand. However, connecting with more traditional media outlets is still extremely important, especially for brands in the health food industry. Preparing an interesting and engaging electronic press kit is one of the most essential strategies to help your brand generate interest by journalists and the media in general.
The Problem with Solely Focusing on Social Media
The advent of social media marketing might have originally seemed like a perfect publicity solution for smaller brands. For a relatively small investment, brands could connect directly with their niche customer base, thus foregoing the “middle man” of traditional media, marketing, and publicity channels.
Unfortunately, consumers today are beginning to learn how to ignore and avoid some of the paid-for promotional content that is inundating their social media channels. Well over one-third of internet users use different types of ad-blockers, making it impossible for some of your social media advertising strategies to ever reach your targeted customer. Furthermore, 62 percent of small business owners recently admitted that their Facebook ads were missing the expected targets.
Earned Media: An Opportunity to Grow Brand Awareness without Spending a Dime
With social media feeds increasingly swamped by ads all competing for customer attention and response, diversifying your publicity and marketing strategies should be a priority. Earned media, also known as free media, refers to publicity gained through promotional efforts of your business or brand that does not come through paid media advertising or through media channels you own or manage (branding).
According to one recent study, between 25 percent and 40 percent of all traffic and lead generation comes from earned media. Brands that invest in public relations teams seeking earned media promotions can see conversion rates of 5 percent or more, compared to just 1 percent for paid content on social media or traditional media.
A holistic marketing strategy should include promotional efforts from earned media, paid media, and through the media channels you own and manage. However, earned media has the largest potential for long-term positive effects for your brand growth targets. While there always exists the slight chance that some celebrity or major influencer will happen across your product and give you a free shout-out on their social media channels, a more realistic strategy for success should focus on attracting and maintaining the attention of media gatekeepers.
A solid electronic press kit that can be distributed to bloggers, influencers, journalists, reporters, and others is the most important part of a deliberate and strategic earned media strategy.
What is an Electronic Press Kit and why does your Brand Need One?
An EPK (electronic press kit) is a pre-packaged set of promotional materials of a person, company, or organization distributed to members of the media for promotional use. Electronic press kits are often tactically distributed to announce a press release or for a news conference, though they can also be released to coincide with a brand´s growth or expansion plans.
In the past, press kits were mostly a collection of brochures, abridged product catalogs, revenue statistics, and other relevant documentation that could be printed and sent to people in the media or distributed at press conferences and/or tradeshows. With the commencement of the modern age, however, the digitalization of information has changed how press kits are put together and distributed.
An electronic press kit allows businesses and brands to creatively and innovatively present the information and content related to their brand story to reporters, producers, bloggers, or others in the earned media niche. However, journalists receive an average of 200 EPKs on a daily basis. To successfully generate earned media promotion for your brand, your electronic press kit needs to be attention-grabbing, concise, and efficient in communicating the essential information about your brand story.
What You Need to Include in Your EPK
While it might be tempting to include hundreds of pictures, a 5-page history detailing the origins of your brand, and a complete product catalog, a 100-page PDF file will probably deter interest from journalists and bloggers. At the same time, an incomplete electronic press kit that doesn’t offer enough information for journalists to access the relevant facts, numbers, and photos that they need to cover your brand is also a deterrent. As a general rule of thumb, every electronic press kit should contain the following essential elements:
• Company Background Information
• Short Biographies of Founders, Management, and Key Staff
• Focused Fact Sheets about Your Products
• A Selection of Important Press Releases and other Press Coverage
• Relevant and Impactful Case Studies
• Important Industry Awards and Accolades
• Digital Artwork
• Sales Sheets
• Contact Information
Company Background Information
This is the “who, what, where, why, when, and how” of your business or brand, comparable to the “about us” section that you probably have on your website. Keep this section brief, though it is a good idea to highlight important elements of your brand story that journalists might find relevant. More than just numbers and statistics, many journalists, bloggers, and influencers also want to hear about the personal and particular attributes that make your brand special. Instead of a several-page document, break this section up into an easy-to-identify heading, so that people in the earned media niche can quickly find what interests them.
Short Biographies of Founders, Management, and Key Staff
You don’t want to attach the CVs of your entire management team. However, short biographies of your founders, management team, and other key members of your workforce are important to include in your EPK. Succinct bios for your team can help to make a relevant connection between your brand story and the people who work there.
Focused Fact Sheets about Your Products
Most journalists are probably not going to have the time or energy to look through your entire product catalog. In lieu of simply uploading your most recent catalog, focused fact sheets can highlight the most important and relevant information that distinguishes your brand from others in the industry. For example, a Keto-Certified snack company might create a fact sheet for one of their popular products that emphasize pertinent nutrition information, the lack of any artificial additives, or their ethical ingredient sourcing channels.
A Selection of Important Press Releases and other Press Coverage
Letting journalists, bloggers, and others in the earned media industry see for themselves what others have written about your brand can help to stimulate interest. Also, significant press releases can draw attention to important recent events that showcase the direction your business is heading. Make sure to only include the most recent press releases and press coverage. Update this part of your EPK regularly to only include press coverage and press releases that are 6-8 months old.
Relevant and Impactful Case Studies
Customer testimonials are often reduced to a couple of sentences and can seem to be overly promotional. Case studies, on the other hand, take a more in-depth look at the impact and impression that your brand has had on individuals or communities. A good case study can help journalists see the wider influence your brand is leveraging in the market.
Important Industry Awards and Accolades
If your brand has won any noteworthy awards or accolades, don’t be afraid to pat yourself on your back and share that information with people in the earned media industry. Also, this is a good place to highlight any and all certifications your products have obtained.
While all of the elements of your EPK outlined above are word-oriented, we live in a digital world where visuals take precedence. Make sure to include high-quality, sharp photographs of your products, headshots of relevant members of your team, and your brand logo. You might also consider including a short promotional video that introduces your brand, similar to the information included in the company background information section.
Certifications help communicate to retailers that products have gone through rigorous third-party quality assurance programs. Third-party certifications afford the retailer marketers talking points about the brands, as well as helps them identify attributes for positioning the brands within the retail space. Further, certifications help retailers easily discover brands that have specific brand attributes that are aligned with consumer demand, reducing the amount of research time required for a retail buyer to make purchasing decisions. While certifications are important to end-consumers, their utility in the retail buyer’s process cannot be overstated and should always be included in electronic press kits.
Press kits for retail buyers should include sales sheets that include more detail-oriented information that still maintain an amount of design. Sales sheets should include obvious elements such as a large image of a best-selling product and the product line, pricing by unit and by case, certifications, distributors so that buyers can purchase products, and contact information. However, less obvious elements should be added as well. These include elements such as barcodes, which should be added to sales sheets to help buyers add them to their inventory system if they are selected for purchase, as well as testimonials. If customers love your products, retail buyers will believe that their customers will too.
Lastly, your electronic press kit will need to include contact information. Journalists often require personalized quotes for the articles they write up on your brand, so being able to quickly get in contact with someone from your company is essential to not miss out on free press coverage. If you have special communication protocols for press inquiries, make sure to include all the different ways that journalists can get in touch with who they need to, including email, phone, social media, website information, etc.
Some Logistical Considerations
Once you have put together all the relevant information for your electronic press kit, you will need to think about how to effectively share your EPK with people in the earned media industry. It is completely possible to use a variety of digital formats, from a PowerPoint deck to a PDF file. However, if your EPK contains heavy file sizes, you might need to alert journalists that you can also send the EPK via Dropbox or other cloud storage services.
One of the easiest ways to share your electronic press kit with journalists and bloggers is to include a dedicated press tab on your business website. While you might need to do some initial outreach to draw interest in your brand from journalists, having all your relevant information on one site makes it easy for people in the earned media industry to access the info they need to promote your brand.