CVC: Easy Ways to Become "The Path of Least Resistance" for Media Buyers
Your publication does not need to have a large promotion budget to impress media buyers. By making these easy changes you can ensure your publication will stand out from the crowd.

Does your media kit and rate card contain the information national media buyers really want?

To help you answer this question, CVC's Board of Advisors, made up of regional and national advertisers, reviewed media kits from CVC audited publications. This list of surprising do's and don'ts is the combined results of eight years of advertiser surveys and feedback. Also, keep in mind that you may want to have a separate media kit for local advertisers.

The Do's:

1. Before you sit down to design your new media kit keep in mind that it is important that the media kit mirrors the design features of the publication. Brand synergy is a subtle sign that a publication has their act together. Your new media kit should reviewed by a minimum of two sources outside your company reviewing for accuracy, clarity and simplicity. Consider using a local ad agency or trusted top advertisers for the reviews.

2. Design your media kit to be a PDF, less than 2MB in size, which can be sent by email or downloaded from your website. Media buyers should be able to view and download the PDF directly from your website. Sales people should include a link to the media kit PDF and digital edition in their email signatures.

3. Create a header or footer for each page - especially your rate sheets - that includes your contact information. Remember, buyers rarely keep your entire kit so they must be able to contact you from any page in your kit.

4. Make sure your rate information is prominent and easy to read. Give your media kit to a local high school class and ask them how much certain types of ads will cost. If the class does not get an "A" on the assignment your information needs to be simplified.

5. Use well organized charts to graphically display rate information.

6. All rates should be labeled "gross" or "net." A buyer needs to know whether their commission should be added to the rate, or is included in the rates listed.

7. Include effective dates on all rate sheets. Ideally, you will also include expiration dates so media buyers know if the rates are outdated. It is very important that you change your rate card effective date every year - even if you do not change your rates. Not increasing rates might be something to promote, but the appearance of rates being outdated will lose sales.

8. Place your ad sizes, specs, deadlines and rates on the same page in your media kit. It's ideal if a separate rate sheet for retail, insert, classified, special section, website, mobile media and other advertising options are printed on standard 8.5" x 11" paper. Buyers said they sometimes file the rate sheet for the type of advertising they buy and toss the rest of the kit.

9. Include all specifications. Note any differences between actual specifications and billed specifications so the media buyer can clearly see what the final bill will be.

10. Provide submission directions that include contact information and an after-hours contact that is available anytime in case problems arise close to deadline. Imagine that a major media buyer operating in Pacific Time wants to add your publication to a buy, but it's already 7:00 p.m. at your office. The chance of your cell phone ringing often is slight, but a couple extra buys a year could make a big difference. Also, include an after- hours contact for preprint delivery.

11. The cover of your media kit should only include your logo, geographic location and pictures of your publication(s), special sections and features. Media buyers do not care what yourbuilding, local landmark, community event, or people in your community look like. The cover of your media kit is valuable real estate. Use it to sell your publication. For newspapers, show a picture of your front page and all your sections and inserts. A picture of them fanned out is a good presentation. For magazines, show high-quality images of your covers.

12. Clearly identify your market. There are so many publications with common names that you must give geographic information on every page. Too many publications have names without a geographic reference. Make it obvious to a buyer where your market is located.

13. Make sure your media kit is well organized, free of errors and professional looking. This should be a given, but many media kits contained embarrassing errors.

14. Post your media kit on your website. The actual website page containing this data should include your publication's name and city. This is helpful for buyers who "bookmark" the page directly. Also, go to major search websites on a regular basis and search your city with words like "newspaper," "magazine," "advertising," and "media." If you are not the first search option you need to increase your presence. If you are uneasy about posting your media kit to your publication website consider, a B2B website for media buyer data.

15. Include your audit report in your media kit. If your publication is not audited, include your postal audit and/or a notarized sworn printer's statement.

16. Your media kit should include a map of your circulation area that clearly shows where you are located in the state with ZIP code, county and zone boundaries clearly marked. Your map should also include the MSA, CBSA and DMA circulation breakouts.

17. Your media kit should include a page for editorial and special section calendars. Make sure you include ad sizes, specs, deadlines and rates.

18. Compare your publication to other media in the market. Media comparisons are helpful and can make the difference in closing a sale. Make sure you are only presenting factual information like distribution by ZIP code or research from a respected source.

19. Include distribution by ZIP code data as an EXCEL file attached to emails or included on a jump drive if sent by mail. You should also consider adding sub-ZIP code distribution options. Contact CVC and we will send you an EXCEL file as the data appears on your CVC audit report.

20. Include rate information for all of the digital media offered by your company.

The Don'ts:

1. If you feel you still need a printed media kit, avoid big folders or binding your media kit. An 8.5" x 11" media kit slips easily in and out of buyers' files. Anything larger than that risks a oneway trip to the trash can. Simply fold a heavy stock 11x17 page to create a pocket to insert information on separate 8 ½ x 11 pages. Yes, the days of the expensive folder for the media kit have come to an end!

2. Avoid cute die cuts, fluorescent colors and clip art. Die cuts make items harder to file and eliminate valuable space to highlight your publication.Fluorescent colored paper or ink can often not be copied or scanned - and are always hard to read. Never, never, never use clip art! If the clip art looked good to you it looked good to a lot of other publishers across the country.

3. Edit out the fluff. Your media kit should not read like a Chamber of Commerce brochure. It's okay to have a very short paragraph about your publication's history, but keep it short.

4. Don't automatically include a sample of your publication in your media kit. Ask if the buyer wants one, or they will request it if needed. If you do not have a digital edition, highly consider one. Contact CVC for our approved vendor list. Keep reading below to see how they will know what your publication looks like.

5. Don't risk insulting national buyers by including a credit application in your media kit. If you are lucky enough to be included in a buy that is the appropriate time to consider payment terms and options.

The Circulation Verification Council (CVC) is an independent, third-party reporting audit company. CVC audits thousands of editions nationwide with a combined circulation of more than 55,000,000. Our audits cover printing, distribution, circulation, websites, digital editions, social media, text media, podcasts, blogs and readership studies to give an accurate picture of a publication's reach and market penetration. For additional information contact CVC President / CEO Tim Bingaman at or (800) 262-6392.


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