Tech Talk with Publicist CEO Lara Vandenberg

“I consistently observed one pain point. Access to premium communications and marketing talent is really hard.”

Lara Vandenberg founded the Publicist platform.
Lara Vandenberg founded the Publicist platform.

Can you tell me about the company you founded, Publicist?

We're a market network that helps brands and agencies find and work with contract public relations, communications, marketing and creative talent. Having launched in May 2020 in New York, with a staff of 10, we’re a platform that people use to source, manage, hire and pay freelance contractors.

What are you seeing at your company with agency demand?

We provide access to premium communications, marketing and creative talent. Systems like LinkedIn don’t offer easy search capabilities. The structure of agencies has changed immensely over the last five to 10 years. We’re seeing agencies keeping much leaner teams and wanting flexibility. If they're about to win business, and an RFP is looking good, they're able to go onto our platform and we can provide 20 people within a week to work on an account. We've got ready people available, who have profiles set up and can list past clients and references and a rich portfolio. People can go onto our platform, connect and communicate. If agencies are looking to upskill and upscale and are not at 100% capacity, they use our platform.

What trends do you see with PR professionals at brands using Publicity?

On the brand side, we’re seeing such an explosion of specialization and hyper-specialization. Our platform has over 300 skill sets from marketing to crisis communications to investor relations to creative TikTok campaigns to performance marketing to fractional CMOs. Customers are able to demand hyper-specialization saying, “I want a market strategist for crypto or I need a public relations professional for healthcare, with this specific type of hospital or policy experience.”

How do agencies and brands use your platform?

Agencies or companies can post a project, for example, looking for a 40-hour-week public relations professional for a three-month period. They say what the budget is and the project’s dates. The talent can see our job board, with transparency for offered rates and budgets and if it’s in their public relations wheelhouse.

You were one of PRWeek’s 2021 Dashboard 25 honorees. Tell us about your company’s beginnings and how it is making a difference in the comms space.

Originally, I’m Australian and for nearly 10 years I’ve worked in comms and marketing on multiple sides of the industry. But I consistently observed one pain point. Access to premium communications and marketing talent is really hard.

The system of finding someone on LinkedIn, putting them in a Google spreadsheet, interviewing and tracking applicants, signing contracts, onboarding, managing and paying with multiple systems involves finance, human resources, the hiring manager, the communications director or the CMO. It’s a long and arduous process to hire and onboard someone. So, I wanted to create an end-to-end system. If you can automate the contracts, the payments, the tax forms, all in one place, it's putting a lot of time back into people's days.

Our focus is midsize and enterprise clients, but not exclusively. For example, Amazon is a client, with our staffing a marketing position.

Lara Vandenberg is the founder and CEO of Publicist.

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