We’ve written about several attempts to rethink PR for startups, including PressFriendly (which offers customers a virtual “pitch builder”) and AirPR (which created a marketplace connecting startups and PR).
A new firm called Publicize may not embrace the self-serve, tech-centric model quite as a fully, but it does have a pretty appealing price tag — its standard cost is $499 a month, in contrast to traditional firms that can charge thousands or tens of thousands dollars.
Publicize founder Conrad Egusa (pictured above with his partner Eddie Arrieta) is a former tech journalist — we worked together at VentureBeat. He also runs the Espacio co-working space in Medellin, Colombia.
Egusa told me that before launching Publicize, he “looked at the PR process and deconstructed it to a multitude of steps,” and then tried to see which steps were necessary, and how the remaining ones could become more efficient.
And while Publicize offers other services like content marketing, its basic process (as outlined in the graphic below) is pretty straightforward — when a startup has news that it wants to promote, Publicize draws on a team of “crowdsourced” journalists and marketers to put together a press release, which it then offers as exclusive news to a single publication. (Egusa said he personally approves each release, so hopefully the process doesn’t result in pitches that are too spammy.) If the news gets picked up, the firm then does a more widespread email blast in the hopes of attracting follow-up coverage.
Again, nothing about this sounds revolutionary, but it seems that by creating a standardized process focused on the basic service that startups are looking for, Publicize can keep costs down. Egusa said he also offers $50 and $75 discounts when he doesn’t think a client has a good chance of landing in top-tier tech publications. (That’s not the most intuitive way to make the pricing more fair and performance-based, but hey, it’s not likely to raise journalists’ hackles as much as straight-up charging per article or blog post.)
As one indication of the quality of its early customer base, Publicize says it has worked with more than eight Y Combinator-incubated startups. One of those startups was data analysis company Statwing, whose co-founder Greg Laughlin told me that when he connected with Egusa, he’d been looking for PR that was more affordable than a traditional “full-service” firm. He was happy with the results, and particularly happy that the Publicize team was perfectly willing to share its knowledge, even if that might could mean losing Statwing as a customer later on.
“I was upfront with them,” Laughlin said. “I told them, ‘We’re poor and we’re not going to be able to use you all the time, so I want to learn a lot when we’re doing this.’”
I was also curious about the challenges of starting a PR firm in Colombia. After all, it’s a relationship-driven business, and presumably, Egusa is largely trying to reach reporters in the United States.
However, he said that when talking to customers, location has “never been an issue.” After all, he’s lived in New York and Northern California before. And as I’ve learned over the past few weeks, even from Colombia, Egusa can be plenty persistent over email, particularly when a story (like, uh, this one) gets delayed.