Startup PR firm Publicize is launching a new program for what it calls Reporters-in-Residence.
Publicize founder and CEO Conrad Egusa said he was inspired by the Entrepreneur-in-Residence programs offered by venture capital firms, where former startup founders and execs are put on the payroll to help the firm’s portfolio while also coming up with new ideas.
Similarly, Egusa said he wanted to offer financial support to journalists who are in a transition period (say if they’re applying for fellowships, planning to start their own venture, or just between jobs) while also tapping them to help his clients.
Publicize is also announcing its first Reporter in Residence, Rebecca Grant (pictured above). Grant, like both Egusa and yours truly, is a former VentureBeat writer, but she’s now working as a freelance journalist while also doing writing for startups.
“The RIR program was interesting to me because when I was at VB and after, I had SO many people ask me for advice about reaching out to the press,” Grant told me — in fact, she already wrote a couple of Medium posts last year offering some of that advice. “I felt like if more entrepreneurs were informed and empowered to do their own media outreach, then I would have a more direct channel to find and report stories.”
The Reporter-in-Residence program is supposed to last six months, and Egusa emphasized that it’s part-time. So it’s basically a way to make some extra money while continuing to write what you want or figure out what’s next (and no one’s expected to relocate to Publicize HQ in Medellin, Colombia). Egusa hopes to bring on more journalists later this year, so the duties may change to suit the person — in Grant’s case, she’ll be co-hosting a monthly webinar for Publicize clients.
As for whether getting paid by a PR firm and working closely with its clients would create a conflict of interest with her journalism, Grant said:
The work I am doing today no longer focuses on startup launches and fundings. Even if it was, I would never write about or pitch any startup I met through Publicize. As the RIR, my role is about educating and informing about journalism, not trying to get startups press coverage, and to me, anything that raises awareness about the role and importance of journalism is good.
Egusa added that he hopes other companies and venture capital firms create similar programs: “I’d love if there are as many reporters in residence as entrepreneurs in residence 18 months from now.”