AirPR raises $5M to bring more data to PR

AirPR is announcing that it has raised $5 million in Series B funding.

The company started out as a marketplace that matched up startups with public relations professionals, but is focus has since shifted to building analytic tools that measure the impact of PR — in fact, it sold the marketplace side of the business last year.

AirPR has now raised a total of $10 million. The Series B was led by Storm Ventures, with Storm’s Tae Hea Nahm joining the board of directors. Salesforce Ventures is also a new investor, while previous backers Mohr Davidow and Correlation Ventures participated as well.

Nahm said that as he looked at the PR industry, he saw a real need for more data to help businesses justify their PR budgets. That data can allow them to increase spending in areas that are working, and to cut back in areas that aren’t.

“Everyone in PR talks about this: How do you measure it?” he said. “It’s like this is the holy grail … At the end of the day, you get what you measure.”

Co-founder and CEO Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer said AirPR looks at a variety of different metrics, like whether one article drives a number of follow-up articles from other publications, or whether an article prompted an increase in sign-ups or sales

As an example, the AirPR team looked at the social media response to TechCrunch posts and found that publishing at 5am Eastern on Tuesdays is the best time to get the most LinkedIn shares. (I believe them, but I’m not publishing right at that time — I just couldn’t bring myself to publish something that ridiculously early.)

Fouladgar-Mercer added that it’s important for companies to get this data quickly, particularly when the company isn’t making a planned-out promotional push (say, announcing a funding around) but instead responding to negative commentary — the kind of situation where a fast, thoughtful or creative response can make a big difference.

“What’s happening right now is that companies are finding out the information far too late,” he said.

Looking ahead, Fouladgar-Mercer said he wants to bring more data science and artificial intelligence to the process, and even potentially work more closely with journalists.