End-to-end PR app aims to streamline agency offerings

We speak to the founder of Supernewsroom about democratising PR functions through an app and the platform’s curious ‘guaranteed coverage’ feature.

Manminder Kaur Dhillon, Supernewsroom & Intelectasia
Manminder Kaur Dhillon, Supernewsroom & Intelectasia

Supernewsroom, a new end-to-end PR services platform, was recently launched to help companies and publishers with their “entire PR campaign” on a single platform. The app was founded in Malaysia by Manminder Kaur Dhillon (pictured below) and Puspavathy Ramaloo and aims to target Southeast Asian companies, PR practitioners, and publishers.

One of the main functions of Supernewsroom, which has been positioned by the founders as a ‘super PR app’, is for users to access its publisher database and blast press releases to some 30,000 journalists across eight countries including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Instead of signing into costly contracts, users use pre-paid credits which are deducted with every email sent from the platform.

Dhillon, who is also CEO of Malaysia-based PR consultancy Intelectasia, told PRWeek Asia that being a consultant “back in the day” involved plenty of menial labour points such as media invoicing and sending out press releases.

“The only thing we had at the time was an Excel sheet,” she said. “Whether it was updated or not, it all depends on you. And then once [a release] is out, you have to actually call the journalist to do your follow-ups.”

Because PR pros and companies spend a considerable amount of time ringing journalists to follow-up on pitches or requests, the app aims to circumvent this laborious process by embedding buttons in emails sent out to journalists. This way, the journalist would simply click ‘accept’ or ‘decline’ in an email pitch and the app would automatically tabulate these responses into an online database. 

“When [a journalist] sees an email like that, the notification or the call-for-action button is pretty distinct. So it makes their job easier, and they’re not bombarded by follow-up calls,” said Dhillon.

The app also includes services such as virtual PR consultancy, language translation, and post-campaign analytics.

On how Supernewsroom is positioned differently from existing services such as Telum Media or PR Newswire, Dhillon said that her app integrates the offerings of existing services as a one-stop-shop.

“Telum is a database that’s not integrated with an email blast. PR Newswire is a third-party distribution platform. And then you have Supernewsroom which integrates all of this and gives the user an option of planning their PR campaign from scratch or doing it themselves. It’s basically a DIY platform,” she said. 

“I'm sure all these [other] platforms have their advantages, but what we want to do is take all the tools necessary for a PR agency or start-up and integrate them in one single platform. It’s streamlining the work processes in one place.”

It’s more accurate to say that Supersnewsroom’s closest competitor at the moment is Cision. The main difference is that the former works as a pay-as-you-go service while the latter requires a subscription fee.

“If I'm a startup, I may need PR consultancy but I may not be able to afford an agency, for example. So I can pay for consultancy for say, an hour. Just someone who will look at my press release or someone who can advise me. And something like that [on Supernewsroom] would be 100 credits which is about RM200 (US$48),” said Dhillon.

At the moment, consultants are made up of those from Intelectasia, but Dhillon aims to open it up as a marketplace in the future where companies can pay for consultancy by ratings, sector, and other factors.

A feature that could redefine earned media altogether is the app’s ‘guarantee coverage’ offering. This is how it works: Any media publisher or news platform that wants to be a part of Supernewsroom’s ‘guaranteed coverage’ offering will have to submit a domain authority score to gauge the site’s unique visitors and other metrics. Once a rate is decided, the publisher can choose to publish any releases that come through and will be paid according to the pre-determined rate. The agency or company pays Supernewsroom for the release blast, and Supernewsroom then pays the publisher a cut should they decide to cover the news based on the release.

“Traditionally, when a press release is covered, the media companies don't make money and only the agency makes money. So what we’re doing now is that if a media company chooses to publish, we will actually give them a fee to publish it, but they have complete editorial control,” said Dhillon.

She added that it’s a ‘win-win’ solution for both publishers and agencies or companies. While it’s certainly a new proposition, it calls into question the ethics behind incentivising newsrooms to cover a story, and whether it should be categorised as traditional earned media at all.

“The key point here is that the media agency will have complete control on the editorial direction of that press release,” said Dhillon. 

At the moment, Supernewsroom’s database covers a range of eight countries across Asia, and Dhillon views it as a promising tool for international companies to access Southeast Asia as a gateway region.

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