Do media kits build brands?

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Regardless of the medium in which they are presented, media kits are perennially among the most important tools for b-to-b publishers.

In 2007, American Business Media continued a program begun last year to recognize the best media kits in b-to-b media. Among print media kits, The Deal LLC placed first, followed by Reed Business Information's Building Design+Construction (BD+C). The first-ever winner in the online media kit category was McGraw-Hill Construction Integrated Media.

Media kits for all three were created to convey the respective brands' positioning in compelling, consistent ways.

According to Elena Freed, director of marketing at The Deal LLC, "our challenge over time has been to support a strong and cohesive branding message across 12 different products." Her media kit was previously organized by medium—events, online, print. "Now we organize it by brand—The Deal, The Daily Deal,, Corporate Dealmaker and Tech Confidential."

That branding message starts with the cover of the media kit, which highlights the word "Deal" in large, red lettering. Surrounding it are images of the covers of the publications. Every page of the kit has four-color graphics and photos.

Dean Horowitz, publisher of Building Design + Construction, said the primary objective of his media kit is to educate customers on the distinctive brand positioning of the title.

"BD+C serves the entire team of architects, engineers, contractors, building owners and developers," he said. The concept of the team, therefore, is highlighted to reflect this difference between BD+C and titles that focus on particular segments of the market.

Horowitz said having a printed media kit, rather than an online-only kit, allows the management team "to control the way the brand is handled and to make sure our message in the market is consistent."

In fact, he added, "we've banned PowerPoint presentations" in order to force salespeople to use the print media kit in sales calls.

Although many publishers have shifted from print to online media kits to save money, Horowitz said that the cost savings might not be as great as people think. "I know a lot of publishers who put their kits online and end up with huge [copy shop] bills because their salespeople decide they need hard copies for clients," he said.

In fact, Deborah Smikle-Davis, director of marketing communications at McGraw-Hill Construction, said she was concerned about eliminating print media kits when the decision was made two years ago. She was pleasantly surprised that "the reps and their assistants took to it quickly when they realized how convenient it is." In addition, she observed that clients seem to appreciate the immediacy of online delivery.

She cautioned, however, that a media kit that's simply posted online without a traffic-driving strategy will fail.

Smikle-Davis spelled out several ways her team drives traffic to the online media kit. "We use such tactics as promotional drawings—for example, a raffle for a digital camera—as well as print ads in our publications, e-mail blasts that promote the media kit URL, links from e-mail promotions and newsletters directly to the media kit, and banner ads and pop-ups on the various McGraw-Hill Construction Web sites," she said.

Like The Deal LLC with its 12 brands and BD+C with its unique building team audience, McGraw-Hill Construction is using its media kit to help educate clients and potential clients.

With brands that include Architectural Record, Constructor, Engineering News-Record (ENR), GreenSource, Product News and 11 regional construction titles, McGraw-Hill Construction is making a more conscious effort to highlight the breadth of its coverage. "Each product is included in the new media kit to encourage customers and prospects to use more than one of our titles," Smikle-Davis said.

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