Press Play on a Podcast Press Kit

This post was a collaboration between myself and Elena Fernández-Collins. It was cross-posted on Bello Collective.

You and your microphone and maybe some of your friends have concocted a plan: you’re going to make a podcast! It’s a lot of fun, and you find some helpful articles about sound editing. After trying to figure out what the best hosting service is and drowning in Libsyn versus Podbean comparison charts, you put it up on iTunes and maybe Stitcher. You’ve got social media accounts and, hopefully, you even have a website. But you’re still not getting as many downloads as you thought and breaking through to be visible is a little harder than you’d imagined. Maybe you should tell someone about it? Someone who can get you exposure? Maybe someone like a critic or a reviewer, who has covered your podcast style or genre in the past — like the people writing this article! And the people writing this article want to hear from you, but we want to hear from you especially if you come with a press kit.

A press kit (or media kit, or press pack) is a document that contains all the necessary, up-to-date information and art about something that you are producing or selling, no matter what industry you’re in. We’re here to guide you through the whys and hows of the podcast press kit so that your hard work can flourish and even, perhaps, get a review you didn’t expect to!

Note: We’ll be referencing a lot of different, wonderful press kits and websites in this article. Be sure to check the end for links to every press kit used, as well as more examples to reference.


Why Do I Need a Press Kit?

If you’re asking yourself something along the lines of “Aren’t press kits for, like, major media and startup launches?” or “Press kits aren’t for podcasts!” — I hate to break it to you, but your podcast is basically a startup. It’s a media product that needs a press kit so that you can pitch it, sell it, and describe it. So why does anyone build a press kit, and why should you?

It will help you become and look more professional, because professionals have press kits. “I’m only in this for fun!” Well, okay, but if you take this step, making a press kit and looking professional will in turn:

  • Help reporters an untold amount when they’re building an article of any kind that might reference your podcast, including if they’re going to do so without informing you first! For instance, if there’s a press kit available, they’re more likely to include your podcast in a playlist. That means even if you’re just making this podcast for fun, you’ll get a lot more coverage if you put in the effort for the long-run.
  • Smooth the way for you when you’re pitching your podcast to both journalists and sponsors. You’ll be able to attach it to emails or link to it so that they can read all about your show and you don’t have to write the same description every time.
  • Having a press kit helps your brand spread! People can use it to spread the word about your podcast, without you having to do it!
  • Making a press kit will help you think critically and deeply about your podcast, about what goes into and how to describe it. This is your number two recourse to answer the question “why should people listen to my podcast”, after your own elevator pitch.
  • This is a saturated world of media, not just podcasts. Having a press kit makes you stand out from the crowd as someone who is professional, put together, and serious about their work.
  • You won’t believe me until you get to it, but building your press kit will help reinvigorate and ground you in what it is that you love about this project, whatever the reason is for starting it! Other than necessary details, you’ll be talking about what you’re doing, who you’re doing it with, and showing people your art and trailers. It’s a good way to both cement your plans and keep an open mind as to where you can flex your creativity.

Press kits help you and your team, whether it’s a team of one or 500, your audience, whether it’s an audience of your closest friends or millions of downloaders, critics, and all the people who don’t know about you yet!

Get yourself a press kit.


How to Make a Press Kit

For Individual Podcasts

  • So, you’ve decided to make a press kit. Hooray! Before we talk about getting fancy with design, let’s run down some basic guidelines for the contents of your press kit.

    A good way to think about what should go in the kit is asking yourself what a reviewer might want to discuss if your podcast were to be featured. Your kit should include information and assets that will entice the reviewer to listen, but what will they need when writing about your podcast? What is the 101 on your podcast? Who is the reviewer going to credit for what? Which aspects of your podcast do you want to highlight?

    First and foremost, let’s go over the structure of a press kit. We’re big fans of kits that come in the form of a Google Drive folder or zip file; these setups will allow you to provide a PDF fact sheet as well as supplemental assets that reviewers love to have on hand. Your kit is, of course, a kit — it should have several different pieces, all contained within one folder.

    Here are the things that should be in your fact sheet PDF, which will be the biggest and most important part of your press kit, and should take up around 1–3 pages. You can order these sections any way that you think works best for your podcast, but this is the order we like best for most shows:

    • An introduction: The beginning of your fact sheet should include your podcast’s title, a very quick introduction to what it is (yes, explain that your podcast is a podcast, but also give a genre or format), where listeners can find your podcast (especially if you’re in the Paid Listens program through RadioPublic!), a link to your website, your upload schedule, and — if you plan on including graphics — your cover art used by podcatchers. (For more on graphics, make sure to reference the “Formatting” section down below.)
    • Your podcast’s summary: This is a no-brainer, but as Wil has found out, a lot of podcasts have pretty terrible summaries. Your summary should be about one paragraph long, and it should explain the format, the genre (be specific — “audio drama” is not a genre; it is a medium!), the concept, the hosts where applicable, and a synopsis of the plot where applicable. We also like having two different summaries: one that’s short, snappy, and can easily be quoted in a review, and one that’s a bit more specific and in-depth. Make sure to clearly break these two up.
    • Your release schedule: Provide a section that has your release schedule, both past and present. If you’re changing your release schedule, this is where you put what it’s going to look like in the future. And put your current status: are you on hiatus? When are you starting up again? When is your current season or run ending? Give people a sense of timelines.
    • Cast and crew list: When writing a review, writers need to know who to credit for what part of your podcast. Tell us who voices which characters, and include headshots if you can. Credit your hosts, editors, producers, writers, and sound designers. Short bios are always a plus. Make sure you include social media links for everyone involved in your podcast!
    • Press coverage and review quotes: Have you had reviews and press coverage before? Do you have particularly glowing iTunes reviews? Include quotes and links to those times in its own section. Don’t include all them! Have a selection of reviews and coverage that were complimentary in a detailed fashion, well-written, and, for more in-depth reviews, considered multiple aspects of your work. Remember to include author names and where you got it from. If they’re a reviewer or reporter, make sure to include what publications they write for and a link to the review.
    • Accessibility: You should have transcripts. If you have transcripts, make sure to mention it and link to where they can be accessed. If you have plans to have transcripts in the future (you should), write in a description about the timeline for your transcripts. For instance, Love and Luck’s press kit makes a note that they have captioning available on YouTube:


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  • Patreon and other support information: Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. The podcast world is as full of independent work as any other media. Provide links to where people can support your work financially, be it Patreon or ko-fi. Are you currently running a Kickstarter or other crowdfunding campaign? Talk about it here.
  • Your podcast’s contact information: Make sure to include different ways writers can get into contact with you or talk you up on social media. Be sure to include the show’s email address (or your email address, if the podcast doesn’t have its own) as well as all of its socials:Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. handles and links. If your podcast has a Discord, include an invitation link — and make sure it isn’t the type that expires.
  • Anything else: There’s a lot of things you can include in press kits. We’ve highlighted the things we find the most important and most useful.. But if there’s something special about your show or something you want to make sure is included, you definitely should. Here are some examples:
    • LGBTQ+ friendly and created, like this little banner in the Alba Salix kit:
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    • The rating and global content warnings (you should be including major content warnings in every episode), like these brief notes at Girl in Space:
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    • Listening statistics, which can be as in-depth or as brief as you like. Consider this bit from A Thousand Things to Talk About:

According to PodTrac, the show currently averages between 17,000 and 22,000 90-day downloads across the full catalog.

The unique global monthly audience is around 1,100 individuals as of March 2018.

The largest listening audience is in the United States. Turkey, Venezuela, the UK, Belgium, France, Mexico, and Germany also account for a large number of downloads. Listeners with more than 100 downloads in the last year come from 38 countries.

We currently have an average 5 star rating on iTunes.

Here are things your press kit should have that should be outside of your fact sheet PDF:

  • Promotional images in various sizes: Most writers will need images from your podcast to use in articles, especially for headers. Including these in your press kit makes the process much smoother and more efficient for writers. Images should include your podcast’s art as it appears on podcatchers, any other official art used, headshots, and we’re never mad at behind-the-scenes pictures. If you want to make sure your artists get credited if those images are used, be sure to give credit in your PDF.
  • An audio trailer for your podcast: Audio trailers are few and far between right now, but each time we get one, we’re ecstatic. A short-form introduction to your podcast — and especially what your podcast sounds like — is a great way to hook a reviewer’s attention. You can model these after The Big Loop’s trailer for their episode “Goodbye Mr. Adams,” which is included in their press kit. The Podcast Host also has a handy how-to guideon making a podcast trailer.

This comprises the content that you should be writing up and pulling together for your press kit. But wait, there’s more!

Does your podcast belong to a network? Are you planning on starting one? You can guess what we’re going to say: your network needs a press kit.


For Networks

You’ve started a podcast network or collective! (We’re just going to be saying “network” to be concise). Maybe it’s like FateCrafters Studios, a group of audio fiction shows that have their own production teams, but are linked by the desire to join a family-style support network for their chosen medium. Maybe it’s like the Indie Creative Network, a space and company of various forms of digital media all run and hosted by People of Color and provide podcast production services for businesses. Or maybe it’s like WNYC, which is less a podcast network and more, you know, public radio with podcasts (or maybe you’re a college radio station!).

So why does your network need a press kit, if each of your shows have their own? Your network might want to go on tour or need sponsors and press coverage, or a journalist might want to interview your board or your core team. Think big-picture. If you’ve got a lot of shows in a network, you need a press kit to cover the network as its own business or media enterprise.

Structure your network’s press kit like a podcast press kit: via a .zip file or Google Drive, with promotional images separate from the fact sheet PDF. Here’s what should absolutely be in your fact sheet PDF:

  • Mission statement: Your network needs some kind of mission statement or unifying idea so that people know why you are a network, what is your network’s purpose. Check this mission statement from Indie Creative Network:

The ICN.DJ mission is to elevate and advance the careers of People of Color in the Digital Media space. Our platform is used as a hub to discuss topics important to the progression of our tribe.

The intent of our content is to engage, entertain, educate and inform our listeners/viewers, on a variety of topics important to their everyday lifestyles.

Or check what can be found in the FateCrafters Studios About page:

[The storytellers] have come together to collaborate, and share ideas on all matters of audio drama, be it storytelling, production skills, promotion, or acting. Their aim is to help and support each other in the creative process, so that they can bring you the best in immersive drama possible.

Great mission statements! Also, they’re a good way to work in another important aspect that should be covered in this same section:

  • Network methods: Something people will always be interested in is how the network functions as a group. The FateCrafters About page describes this, but here is an interesting take from Multitude Productions, right before their mission statement.

Multitude is a well-worn idea for the unknown future: a collection of friends working together professionally. Do we contradict ourselves? Alright, let us explain it another way.

We are a production collective of independent audio professionals.

They’re friends and they work together professionally as independent audio professionals striving towards a common goal. Think of other things that might be important to highlight. Do you share profits? Are you independent shows with the same people working on multiple shows or do you share as a big community with separate projects? Do you provide services of any kind? Provide some kind of description of the internal workings of the group, even if it’s something you think someone might overlook. They won’t.

  • List of shows: Clearly the most important part is to include a list of shows that are in the network! Provide a brief description, usually the kind that goes into iTunes, and links to their own websites and social media. Ideally, also include their podcast icon art so that people associate that art with your network. Look at these lists of New York Public Media properties and WNYC shows from New York Public Media’s kit:

  • Board members: Or whatever you have that are similar to board members, like your core team running the network or your elected officials. Make sure to include headshots and brief bios, like you would for a cast list, because this is basically your network cast list. Don’t forget about your website IT person and artist!
  • Network methods: Something people will always be interested in is how the network functions as a group. The FateCrafters About page describes this, but here is an interesting take from Multitude Productions, right before their mission statement:

Multitude is a well-worn idea for the unknown future: a collection of friends working together professionally. Do we contradict ourselves? Alright, let us explain it another way.
We are a production collective of independent audio professionals.

They’re friends and they work together professionally as independent audio professionals striving towards a common goal. Think of other things that might be important to highlight. Do you share profits? Are you independent shows with the same people working on multiple shows or do you share as a big community with separate projects? Do you provide services of any kind? Provide some kind of description of the internal workings of the group, even if it’s something you think someone might overlook. They won’t.

  • Listening statistics: This may be a little more important for your network than for your podcast’s own press kit, depending on how you want to look at it. But you could include listening stats across your shows, averages of how many people listen to shows in your network and where they are listening from, for instance. For your network, this will show the spread and popularity, which may be important to consider when pitching to sponsors for a tour for example.

All right. You now have all the content for a press kit for your podcast and for your network. But what should the formatting be like? Is there a “press kit standard”? What do you use to make a press kit? Here’s some dos and don’ts for formatting, and some important suggestions.


Formatting

When formatting your press kit, form should follow function. Your press kit should be used to help brand your podcast and convey its tone, but more importantly, it should deliver information and be easy to read.

Take, for instance, Girl in Space’s press kit. Girl in Space has an iconic teal-on-purple color scheme for its branding, used throughout its website:

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For its fact sheet PDF, though, the podcast opted instead for black text on a white background. The design is sleek, simple, and easy to read. The science fiction feeling is conveyed through the minimal sans-serif font:

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If you wanted something with more graphic elements, Alba Salix’s press kit is a great structure to follow. The headshots of the cast and crew are fantastic, and the inclusion of metrics is as professional as it is informative. The brand identity is clear while not being obtrusive:

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If you want to go for a minimalist design, you can very easily format your fact sheet in Microsoft Word or any other similar word processor and then save it as a PDF. If you want something more advanced, though, here are some resources you may want to use:

  • PowerPoint has some really lovely formats, and the 16:9 ratio offered can usually accommodate graphics better than a traditional 8.5×11” page.
  • Adobe Spark and Canva both have free press/media kit formats, usable once you’ve signed up for a free account.
  • Xtensio also offers free, dynamic, modern-looking templates for press kits.
  • Bloop Animation has this how-to guide for making a press kit, and it includes a template you can use.
  • Creative Market has a list of 20 press kit templates that all look beautiful and professional. They’re not free, but Creative Market’s accounts are—and they get you six free graphics a week. Sometimes these graphics are things like press kit formats, but it’s also just a great resource for design assets.

So You’ve Made a Press Kit (Great Job!)

Congratulations! Making a press kit is a lot of work, and we’re already impressed that you made one.

giphy-2-2

But now you’ve got some work to do. Press kits aren’t things that you just hold for safekeeping. You put so much work into your kit—now, you have to make sure to use it!

Where do I put my press kit?

First off, put your press kit in the first point of contact with a podcast journalist. Don’t make the journalist reach out to you asking for a press kit — include it off the bat, and even if they don’t need it, it’s not going to do any harm. We might be a little biased, but we think it’s a good practice to make the review process as easy on journalists as possible. Adding your kit right when you initiate contact is a great way to show that you’re of that same philosophy, and that you’ve done the work journalists like to see.

You should also, of course, have your press kit up on your website. You can link the file, or — much more preferably — you can do a page version of the PDF and link your press kit’s file there. Han and Matt Know It All have a discreet link to their lovely press kit page at the bottom of their website:

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Love and Luck has a similarly robust press kit page, linked right in their top menu:

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That is, of course, as long as you have a website. You do have a website, right? Well hey, if not, we’re going to talk more about that process in another future article.

So that’s it, right? I’m done?

Nope!

Think of them like a pet or a child: they’re living, dynamic documents that need to go out into the world and change along the way, but they can only grow up with your help. Your press kit is going to need maintenance. If you’re running a Kickstarter/Indiegogo or started up a Patreon, update your press kit. If you add a new cast member, update your press kit. If you hit some exciting landmarks in download numbers, update your press kit. If your sound designer finally gets a Twitter, update your press kit. If your upload schedule changes, update your press kit. As a best practice, you should check your press kit at least once every other month for accuracy.


What are some good examples of press kits?

Several of these examples were used to help make this article. We’ve referenced some of our very favorites or websites with good content, but we’re so happy to see more and more lovely examples out there.

Audio drama

Nonfiction

Networks/Collectives

  1. […] overall. I also collaborated with Elena Fernández-Collins on a comprehensive how-to guide for a podcast press kit. Over on Discover Pods, I also wrote a feature on ars PARADOXICA and why I think it’s one of […]

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