stories-matter Raising awareness with a press kit

Make it easy for others to learn more about you by creating a press kit.

I’ve been part of open source software communities for a long time. One project I’ve been part of for the longest time is the FreeDOS Project, an open source implementation of the classic DOS operating system. Other developers and I started the project in 1994, in the same spirit as Linux: we gave away the programs that made up FreeDOS, including the source code, so that anyone could use it.

And on June 29, FreeDOS will turn 30 years old. That’s a long time for any open source software project, especially one that reproduces a “retro” operating system like DOS. I’m proud of the community we’ve grown, and the staying power of an open source DOS.

As we look ahead to this year’s milestone anniversary, I anticipate increased attention from technology news websites. So I created a press kit to help others write articles about FreeDOS. Here are a few lessons I learned about making the FreeDOS press kit:

1. Include enough information for a story

A press kit isn’t very helpful if it doesn’t provide enough information to write a story. So I started the press kit by answering the question “What is FreeDOS?” and then by providing background information about FreeDOS and who uses it.

This needs to be informative on several levels. Anyone reading this press kit will first want to know “why should I write an article about it?” That’s answered in the first paragraph:

The FreeDOS Project will turn 30 years old on June 29, 2024. This is a long time for any open source project, especially one like FreeDOS.

The introduction to the press kit also includes some quick-hit information about who uses FreeDOS and why (play classic games, run legacy software, write new programs). The FreeDOS press kit also includes a bullet list of five “quick facts” about the project, including “just a few days older than Amazon” and “just a few weeks younger than Geek Squad” and “older than anything ‘web’” because FreeDOS (June, 1994) predates the World Wide Web explosion in late 1994 and early 1995.

The press kit also includes a brief history of the FreeDOS Project - which lists links, quotes, and names of key developers - and a list of “questions and answers” like “Do you run FreeDOS to do real work?” and “What are your favorite DOS games?” From other interviews I’ve responded to about FreeDOS, a lot of websites want to know if I’m using FreeDOS on a daily basis, so I wanted to provide answers to those frequent questions right there in the press kit.

screenshot of the press kit

Background information, quick facts, and history

2. Provide contact information to learn more

I realized that not everyone will be satisfied with just the press kit to create a story about FreeDOS, so I made sure to include my contact information in a callout box at the top. I invited anyone who wants to write an article to email me with interview questions, and I promised to respond with my answers. I tend to write really long interview answers, to give the other person plenty of content to work with.

screenshot of the press kit

The callout box makes my contact information obvious

3. Share lots of screenshots and images

A few well-placed images can elevate an article to the next level. I wanted to provide an array of images that anyone could use in an article about FreeDOS. I also made sure to include enough variety of the images and screenshots that each article could choose their own selection of images that would differ from someone else’s article.

The press kit includes the current “wordmark” logo, two versions of our fish mascot (one in color, the other in black and white), and our original logo for anyone who wants a “retro” look. I provided each logo in SVG format; these can be scaled up or down without losing image quality.

In the press kit, I also provided screenshots to show what FreeDOS looks like; FreeDOS is just DOS, so it’s a command line interface. The command line is white text on a black background, although many full-screen DOS programs from the 1990s used white text on a blue background. The eight screenshots I included show two images of FreeDOS booting up, plus a selection of screenshots showing the editor and the package manager.

For more visual flair, and to demonstrate that FreeDOS is actually a modern DOS, the press kit also shares a collection of 26 screenshots showing various FreeDOS applications and games. And another 25 screenshots that show what it’s like to install FreeDOS on a computer.

screenshot of the press kit

The press kit includes a ton of images

4. Make it standalone

It would have been easiest to set up a new page on the website, using the default template, to create the press kit. That would have allowed me to reuse logos and other image assets for the press kit. But not everyone works online all the time. Some authors prefer to gather the information they need for an article, then go “heads down” to write it.

One design goal of the press kit was to make it “portable,” something that busy writers could download to their computer and view later as they wrote their article. That meant I needed to make the press kit standalone.

Technical writers rarely need to create websites from scratch; most of the time, you use a web content management system to create pages and update content. But the press kit was a one-off special case. It needed to be completely standalone. That meant I needed to exercise my HTML skills to create an entirely self-contained web page, with all the assets located in one place. It was a fun exercise to craft a web page from scratch, writing the HTML code by hand. To make it completely standalone, I embedded the stylesheet within the web page using a <style> block.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
    <title>FreeDOS Project | Press Kit</title>
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
body {
    font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;
    margin: 0;
header {
    background-color: steelblue;
    border-bottom: 2px solid orange;
    color: white;
    padding: .5em;
    text-align: center;

Press kit as professional communication

This is not the first time we’ve added a press kit to the FreeDOS website. We also created a press kit a few years ago (I think in preparation for our 25th anniversary) and it was a big success. Lots of websites ran articles about FreeDOS that year, and many of these used images or included quotes that we provided in the press kit.

A press kit can be very valuable to other organizations, too. If your project or organization is a visible one, consider adding a press kit to your website with background information, facts, and image assets to help others to tell your story. Like any other part of your website, you should also update or refresh the press kit on a regular basis so it contains the latest information.