Michelle, please tell us about yourself and your professional experience in the PR sector.
Sure. My break in PR was probably different from most people’s. I had to self-teach on the go as the founder of a mobile payment app called Cake in London. It was a challenging experience getting Cake off the ground because I had absolutely zero connection to any journalists in the UK. I tried just about every hack and stunt you can think of and, eventually, managed to get a couple of pieces of coverage for the business on my own. One thing that stunned me was just how effective and powerful those pieces of coverage were in terms of drumming up investor and client interest. It also really put us on the map in what was – and remains – a very competitive space.
To put it bluntly, I had to get pretty scrappy with PR and learn how to do it while running the company. I didn’t really have any idea how to keep up with the media – who was writing about what and when, or even how to pitch effectively. It cost me a lot of time and effort, and I was kind of shocked that there was no tech solution to help with such an important area of business.
Like most business leaders who find themselves in that kind of position, I hired an agency. But even the agency ran into similar challenges, pouring their resources into trying to find relevant writers and publishers and landing pitches in their inbox at just the right time. One thing I learned was that the media landscape moves at breakneck speed, often with an incredibly tight turnover when it comes to content generation. Even if you find the perfect coverage opportunity at the opportune moment, blink and you’ll miss it. So there were a lot of missed opportunities in those early days – I know it.
Tell us about your venture, Press Hook, and how it is connecting media to brands and publicists at scale.
Press Hook seeks to solve some of the problems I outlined in my response to the previous question. It’s the first two-way, collaborative platform that connects brands with journalists – and vice-versa. Think of it as LinkedIn meets Google, but for the media. Brands can create digital press kits with brand assets, and pitch news stories that journalists can browse or surface with search queries. If a journalist working for say, Good Housekeeping, is putting together one of their popular gift guides for the holidays, they can actively search for products or brands that might appeal to their readership, and get everything they need — product descriptions, images — an entire digital brand media kit is at their fingertips within a few clicks to build the story. Likewise, brands need only pitch once on the platform to be discoverable by journalists, massively reducing the leg work that’s usually involved in manual pitching.
Publicists and PR agencies can join too, creating an agency account and building press kits for each of their clients. They can even create press releases and then search for media by interest in order to quickly pitch to a relevant media audience on the platform.