PR professionals are invaluable; their ability to create a positive public image for a company stems from a detail-oriented nature, a willingness to fine-tune an approach with finesse based on past experience and the study of data, and picking up on minute cues that can help determine which publications, news sources and journalists might be most open to their message.
Crafting a successful pitch is an art form, something that can certainly never be outsourced or automated…right?
MIT graduate Dan Siegel, co-founder of Cambridge-based PR firm Spokepoint, doesn’t quite see it that way.
The company, which was founded in early 2014 as a traditional PR firm geared toward helping small startups get their names out into the world, has been using its own software program that analyzes thousands of data points to predict whether a journalist will respond positively to a specific pitch. It also allows the user to search for and contact journalists based on topics they’ve previously covered, and even tracks whether or not a pitch is successful.
Realizing the market for affordable PR services for small entrepreneurial endeavors, tiny companies that can’t afford a PR pro, and time-crunched crowdfunding campaigns, Siegel and his company made a decision — rather than just using this software to help companies write pitches, Spokepoint has made the software available directly for use by such businesses, so that they can successfully create, manage and track their own PR campaigns — no PR firm or outside pitch-writer needed.
“Startups often need to shout their name out from the rooftops; they need to measure what they’re doing to understand what the best version is of their story,” Siegel said, and he feels that his company’s software, which startups can access based on a tiered pricing model (free to $250 per month depending frequency of use and desired tools) gives these entrepreneurs an affordable, effective way to pitch to journalists.
And every business that uses the software is actually helping to fine-tune and improve it, making we professional pitch-writers more and more obsolete with every bit of feedback (okay, that might be a tad over-dramatic, but still).
“Right now we’re laser-focused on getting paying customers to tell us what they like and what they don’t like about the product,” Siegel said. “Once we feel we have a good enough understanding of that, then we’ll look to raise a seed round.”
Are we just imagining it, or can we hear the theme song to “2001: A Space Odyssey” playing in the distance? HAL? Is that you?