What makes a good press pack

We are swiftly moving in to trade show season, Top Drawer always sets London off with a groan, being so early in January. I have controversial opinions about the ever growing size of the show; wondering if it is just more of the same. However its not the only one in the diary. I have been weeping over the gorgeous feed from Maison Objet last week; hoping one day to get lost in those halls.

But thats getting off track, back to the point, Press Packs. Just a small part of  trade show preparation which can include any or all of; business cards, a catalog, line sheets, postcards, order forms, look book, discount flyer, product sample, swatch sheet. Some are more about logistics; how does someone make an order? How do you give out your contact information? Simple forms and cards. Success. Press Packs are a little of that logical stuff along with something interesting to catch attention.

Now whether you are leaving these packs in a press room (at a trade show) handing them out at an event or sending them as a mail out, I thought I’d give my favourite features and top tips. So delving in to my pile from Top Drawer lets have a look.

It’s true what you parents told you as a kid, first impressions are everything. So big question, envelope or no envelope? I have a fondness for pretty stationery, so my favourite choice are those glassine envelopes that hint at whats inside. Pair it with a branded sticker or printed logo front and centre. The higher quality the better, sad post office wrinkled rejects don’t impress. The exception can be when you tie it up with a bow, literally. Both lovely ladies Lorna Syson & Victoria Eggs let the front covers of their catalogues speak for themselves and then make sure the pack stays together with some branded haberdashery.

Whatever packaging you choose make sure it fits the content inside, nothing worse than a giant envelope with a tiny card inside. Some of the smaller better composed pack’s draw focus for their attention to detail. Bespoke printed miniature totes and calligraphy addressed envelopes were nice additions to the mix but only got me to pick them up. What’s inside them is going to do most of the talking but one quick tip before that.

This made me and Fab laugh a fair bit in the press area, looking through any packs that caught our eye, only to find no way to find them easily. Sure we could look them up in the large catalogue then try find it on the A1 road map of Olympia but to be honest that doesn’t happen. So add a sticker on the front or even handwrite it, just make sure its there. (Also you should have your location on your social & website – and if the show is hard to navigate, add directions).

Your press pack needs to introduce your brand so let everyone know who you are, logo front and centre. Each component of your pack needs to be cohesive in design. So keeping your brand colours in mind splurge on some branded stickers or bespoke labels and develop your branding details across the pack.

I’ve had lots of people give me an an almost blank piece of paper for their press release. Unless you are a stunner of a words smith, strong images are going to be doing a lot of the talking for you. My favourite pack was Alison Hardcastle’s  its was bursting full but what earned it true points was each piece curated for a different benefit. A leaflet with the new collection, a snapshot of photography potential on a postcard, a catalogue to show breadth of design, current news in a press release and example of quality with a product sample.

After knowing your name, you now need to tell everyone more about you. If your a maker then this profile will be more personal, if you have a complex or interesting process it might be a little narrative about manufacturing, if you have a strong moral ethos then tell us about why that’s important.

This is going to be so vital to a member of the press if they haven’t come across you before, reading a well worded bio flags up ideas and questions that they will want to investigate and answer. Now I do mean well worded; not a novel, think either a CV or short picture heavy children’s book. Izzi Rainey made me have countryside dreams for a week after reading her Farm Life booklet.

This is an easy filler for lots of people, something short and sweet but visually pleasing. If you don’t have a catalogue/look book to include or want to just hint at what you offer they are up to the task. Just like the packaging, the cards need to be quality, well printed to best represent the content on them. If you are a high end furniture brand but print on flimsy stock, it leaves the wrong impression.

However don’t go over the top, sets of three are usually good and they need to be relevant. Don’t throw in a surplus of old stock just because you have them lying around. If you have your about story on a card that can be handy, then your press release on another, then you contact on another, that might make a nice set? Don’t you think. I liked Mynn London set as each showed a different product and situation in different styles.

A favourite from Top Drawer that stuck with me,; All the Ways to Say the postcards were promoting new collections and had on point matching branding, that subtle dotted outline just … hrrmm.

This is another strangely ignored tip, you know you hate receiving emails not addressed to you, well we hate not knowing who we are talking to. Even if the rest of the press pack gets throw away, business cards tend to float around.

This is a pretty big piece of marketing collateral, if you have enough products and a promising wholesale catalogue then it seems easy to leave that for press to engage with. A well designed one will be all the information needed but as they come in all shapes and sizes are not always very practical. I normally have a flick through large catalogues in the press area but rarely engage much or take them with me, too heavy and actually not great unless making an order.

Look-books can be an nice middle ground, a selection of lifestyle shots show the product off and highlight a selection of photography you have to offer. Some of these double as your ‘about’ info source too. I like doing these personally as they can please both press and buyers. However work best when you have more unique one off products rather than 8 sizes and 6 colour ways as there will be to much to show off.

Brochures might seem like the same thing but for me define something thats usually smaller and more creatively designed. Not as grid and barcode as a catalogue but not as arty as a look book. Hopefully from the examples below you can see the variety and know which one is best for your brand or if your clever a bespoke combination of all three.

This slick design from Have a Look which shows you the products on offer but also the style of the brand. Also it was a cool concertina layout rather than the traditional book format.

A combo book from Wolf + Moon  caught my eye, its a brand I know and like. Managed to pull me in wondering what was new. Nothing fancy but matched their stand and brand well.

Now here was my favourite – from Thornback & Peel another brand I know but have never seen a wholesale book from before. It is the best designed I have seen in a while and with both beautiful styled lifestyle imagery and easy to understand product categories. Great features included USP stickers like ‘best seller’ and beautiful layouts for each design with just the right amount of info.

This one is always interesting and when looking in press rooms, its hard not to take a peak at the big bags. The weighty items. Natural curiosity takes effect but I think I can count on one hand when those items were chosen correctly and actually influenced my desire to go meet the brand.

The stationery brands have it easiest, cards are good to share and are a true representation of their offering. However it is also very predictable, I have had other brands share small items coasters, candles etc but usually you can tell they are end of the line items, slight defaults… bit of a turn off for me with a keen nose. I think if your leaving something in a press area then its not needed; if you have a member of the press visit your stand or are sending a mail out then giving a free gift or two can’t hurt.  BUT just because you give someone something doesn’t guarantee anything so its better to tailor those offers.

Incase you were wondering. The two products I have floating around from Top Drawer is the above linen from Linen Tales (who also had great graphic design in their favour) and then a little pink love token from Reverie Studio (again someone who had an organised (pink) press pack) that gave me a look in to the future for upcoming Valentines content.

Oh also someone put sweets in their press pack, they were greatly appreciated and consumed BUT as the rest of your pack didn’t impress we didn’t indulge you. That being said sweets are like the easiest tactic to draw people to your stand, who else has a sweet tooth?

I also had a couple of discounts codes off online orders? Those always confuse me, is it a discount off a wholesale order when you see them at trade shows? Or are they flyers from another occasion and they have been thrown in and what people to use personally… Could use some help with this one. So let me know if you offer a discount in your packs and why.

So I am going to leave you with a little check list; so if your creating your own press pack I hope this is helpful.

And if you want a little help compiling a Press Pack for your next occasion then drop me an email for a quote.