SAN FRANCISCO: Tech company AirPR has launched a platform that matches start-ups with PR representatives.
After a year of testing, the marketplace is open to the public. It has also expanded from its initial focus on tech start-ups to include CPG and lifestyle companies, as well. The system matches start-ups and independent PR representatives based on an algorithm and information in their profiles.
AirPR is attempting to solve several problems in the PR industry, said Rebekah Iliff, director of product at the San Francisco-based company. Start-ups often struggle to find good PR representatives with a small budget, she said. The company also wants to make the business development process more efficient for PR professionals.
“Most references for PR practitioners start at about $10,000 a month. Frankly, for many companies making less than $10 million per year, that's not in their budget,” Iliff said. “It's difficult to find good, top industry people with a start-up budget. The industry is really fragmented.”
AirPR screens companies and PR practitioners before allowing them in the marketplace. Start-ups create profiles and answer a series of questions such as when they want their campaign to begin, what they want to spend, expectations, and how much funding they have raised. Using an algorithm developed in-house, AirPR then recommends the top PR practitioners who best fit those criteria.
The system only recommends three practitioners at a time to a client in order to make the selection process less overwhelming and time-consuming for both sides, Iliff explained.
“A lot of what we're doing is protecting the PR person, who [in traditional review processes] could spend up to 50 hours with a prospect and then they go dark,” she said. “We're taking business development down to just a few hours. If the match is good, they can spend a lot less time convincing the customer to purchase their services.”
Next, PR representatives receiving business leads place bids on the client. Companies evaluate the bids, select one, and pay for a 60-day contract.
“It gives clients a standardized way to compare all the strategies that PR professionals are proposing,” Iliff said.
AirPR also processes the payments.
For now, the company is accepting “very few people” into the marketplace, but it will add more as demand grows, Iliff said.
“If customers have more than four bids, it's typically more difficult to make a decision. We have to make sure everyone is talking to five to six people and receiving only three bids. There's an art there,” she added.