I Hate Marketing is a new weekly Stareable Film School column, where we'll talk about how to make marketing easier, even for those of us who hate it.
I've written previously for Stareable about How To Write A Press Release, but in many cases, that won't be enough to make yourself appealing for interviews, reviews, or features. One way to put yourself head and shoulders above shows harassing celebrities on Twitter is to not only write a press release, but also put together a shareable, comprehensive press kit.
A press kit is a package (in this case, a digital one) of promotional material provided to members of the press to brief them about a product (in this case, your web series). The more organized and comprehensive the kit, the more likely people are to take you seriously and consider using it to promote you on their website or other press mediums.
I use Google Drive to organize and share my press kit, mostly because I pay monthly for extra storage, but you can use any cloud-based storage system (here's a list of other great sites) that you prefer. Make sure whichever site you pick allows you to organize your kit so you're not just sending a list of documents- again, organization is key. Make it as easy on the people you send it to as possible.
Even if you aren't changing the information in it, consistently update the date at the top of your press release so it feels recent. Also, make sure to top up the information about awards won, where to watch the show, when new episodes are coming out, etc. If you're sending around a press kit to promote a specific event (the series being released, a screening, etc), use the press release associated with said event, and keep your "general" press release separate.
Michelle Rose, of netTVnow, recommends a variety of images, including "official cover photos, stills, headshots, [and] behind-the-scenes photos." This way, the organization featuring you doesn't have to Google you and pick whichever photo comes up first. Not only is it a courtesy, but it allows you to brand your series the way you want with the photos you prefer to represent yourself with. Pro tip: swap out the production stills/behind-the-scenes photos every once in a while, so different organizations get different (and unique) photos to choose from.
Make a document dedicated specifically to all the places press can find (and potentially tag) you on the internet, including but not limited to show social media accounts, web sites, IMDb pages, merchandise links, and more. If applicable (and you have permission), you should also share social media accounts of your primary cast and crew.
There's nothing more awkward than getting a press write-up that misrepresents your series because you didn't give them the best language to describe your project. To plan for this, I'd suggest making a document with at least two, if not three, different lengths of synopses. My press kits always include a one-sentence series description (usually a variation of the logline), a two-three sentence description, and a full paragraph description, each one with a bit more information. This gives press options as well as gives them a fuller picture of how you prefer to describe your series.
Even if you also have an IMDb page, it'salways courteous to send press a full list of your team and what roles they held on the project. This is especially important for web series teams, where most individuals hold several roles at once.
If you've been an official selection in one (or several) film festivals, and especially if you've won awards, make a document just to list these honors. I've found a simple list works best, with the one at the top of the document for awards and one underneath for official selections, denoting the category you won (or were a nominee in), the festival name, and the year you were included.
Have a glowing review or two of your series with great pull quotes? Make a document of previous press you've received, linking to the full articles/videos/multimedia post after quoting the most flattering bit. Sometimes, knowing other sites have found you newsworthy and talented will encourage new sites to cover you.
Is there anything else that would be useful for a news organization or website to know about you and your show? Upcoming screening or film festival events? A live tour? Crowdfunding campaigns? Include it! Be careful, though- the more you put in your kit, the more you're making a prospective interviewer or reviewer go over.
Since a press kit is a little more involved than a press release, I wouldn't attach it to your initial cold email to a website or news organization. However, mentioning it gives you some serious clout. Including a line at the end of your email body like "a full press kit is available on request" makes you look on your game without overwhelming your contact with information.
At the bottom of the How To Write A Press Release article is a list of online news organizations who are web series friendly, so I would start there when it comes to reaching out to press with your snazzy new press kits. The great thing about making a kit for your show is that once you do it, it doesn't take much to maintain, but saves you the trouble of having to send the same information and attachments over and over again. It also makes you look super legit, which in the web series world especially is always useful.