Sunday, March 5, 2017

Solo Performer Press Kits


A press kit is one of the important things that I don't see enough solo performers utilizing. A good press kit can be great introduction for a solo performer and what he or she does. It can be a great way to sum up who you are, what you are about and what your show is about. And it does so in a tidy little press-friendly package.

In this post, I want to explore what is in a standard press kit and how it can be utilized.

First, what would you need in a press kit? If you are doing good and interesting work at some point you are going to be featured on someone's blog, podcast, YouTube channel or in some form of traditional media (alt weekly, newspaper, radio). Interviewers, bloggers and podcasters - in fact, all press people - are pretty busy folks. Why not make their lives a little easier? An organized, professional press kit will make them look good and it will help them make you look good. It will also help promote your show to their readers/listeners. Best of all, it will help you control your own personal branding.

Here are the elements that make up a good press kit...

Press kit Checklist:

1. At least four (4) hi-res photos*
  • 2, at minimum, "in performance" photos. One horizontal and one vertical. These should be taken close enough to see your face, should show you in action and should be clear and engaging)
  • Your show poster
  • A good headshot
All these photos should have proper accreditation in the name of the photo. Customarily, you credit the photographer who took the photo. If you own the photo full out, you are welcome to put your own name/company if you want. The caption should appear like this...
Brad McEntire
The actual title of this photo in the metadata is:
Brad McEntire in CHOP - credit-Audacity Theatre Lab

Why send in hi-res digital photos? Because, you want good art to be put with the stories people write about you and because you don't want them using some pixalated photo of you they found somewhere on the internet (podcasters, bloggers and other newer media, in particular, unfortunately sometimes do this).

Ideally, you want a whole smattering of photos because press outlets love getting different images than their competitors. So, a good variety of images can only help you. It might be worth hiring a professional photographer to get some really good pics as well (hat tip to Andrew Wade for this one).

ProTip: Don't have Adobe Photshop or Illustrator? Not a web-savvy designer? You can get great posters/flyer designed for around $5 a pop on fiverr. Or you can create one using Microsoft Word. Or you can can make a press kit or show flyer in Canva. Just some ideas I have utilized myself over the years.

* Hi-Res means High Resolution. Hi-Res is a photo at least 6" x 4" (or 1260 x 960 pixel dimensions image size). This is the minimum. Don't make any pic lower than this.

2. Biography
Ideally, you should prepare three (3) different bios, of varying length, and save them in a file on your computer.
  • Full one (one page max) - summarizes who you are and what you are about
  • short one (one paragraph) - just the big stuff
  • one sentence (you'd be surprised how much this can be used)

3. Videos (or links to them)
I'll do a separate post on promo videos someday, but you two (2) in your arsenal for each show.

  • A short one, like a teaser. Maybe 45 second to a minute in length. The first 15-20 seconds is a great place to put a really engaging moment from your piece or quick montage of the show set to music. The goal is to hook the viewer's attention.
  • A longer one of a few minutes. It should hook attention, too, but give a bit more context to your show. Maybe in the middle have a quick Q-and-A where you talk about your show. You can describe what your aim is or the origins of your ideas behind the show. Follow this with a solid snippet or two from your show and end on either audience reactions or overlayed pull quotes.

4. Links to big/ representative online interviews (web and podcast)
This shows you have been newsworthy in some way already.

5. Contact information 
Include phone, email, your website URL as well as social media links. You want the press to be able to contact you quickly and easily.

These last two are optional...

6. List of Awards You've Won
Won a few Best of Fest Awards? Belonged to some notable residencies? Won a well-known grant? If you have racked up too many awards or they didn't fit in your bio, you might dedicate a full page to list them.

7. List of interview topics/questions
If you want an interviewer to cover certain topics, give them a list. If you want to go further, give them the exact questions you wanna be asked. They may not do it, but they'll know it is important to your message. Or they may just incorporate a few of the questions you may suggested into their interview. Interviews don't have to be 100% surprise.

NOTE ABOUT BEING INTERVIEWED: You don't have to answer the exact same way to every similar question you are asked from interview to interview, but make sure your message is consistent. Also, be interesting. This means being personable and engaging (This is something arts journalist-turned-solo performer Elaine Liner continually emhasizes). Remember, press folks are trying to sell their own products and you are the content. Help them sell you so they can help you sell your show.


Now, put text elements in Word DOC for easy cut and pasting. You can use PDFs for things that wouldn't normally be cut-and-pasted, such as list of awards, but you should insert working hyperlinks into any PDFs to places basic information can be straight lifted by press people (they love cut-and-paste... saves time).

Gather all these press kit elements, make them presentable (and, yeah, spell check everything!), then put them in a single folder on your computer. Zip that folder and then put it on your website. You can also put the individual elements as separate sub-pages on your website as well. Just keep it simple.

I would recommend putting these files not just on your website, but on a CD or small flashdrive to hand out to reviewers that show up to critique your show.

Do you need a physical press kit? I say it couldn't hurt, but most of the time these are just added expense. I used to print out full color pages and put them in a nice folder along with a digital version of the press kit on an enclosed CD. I might make one or two still in case an emergency arises (my website goes down for some reason or something happens on the press side), but it is strictly as a back up. I haven't actually handed out a physical press kit, like in a folder, since 2009.

A solid press kit will brand you as a professional. Make it easy for people to share the word about you and they just might do so.

Want a few good examples? 

  • Rebecca Perry has all her Press Kit embedded in her website (under the Press/Media tab). Take a look... HERE
  • Also, take a look at Martin Dockery's excellent Press Kit for his show Wanderlust... HERE (bonus points because the links in the PDF are all clickable)
  • You can see my Press Kit page on the website I made for my solo show CHOP... HERE (the website platform Wix doesn't allow ZIP files, so the press kit elements are included on the page as separate elements)



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