Today London-based MediaGraph announced the private beta launch of their new online platform targeted at SMBs looking for a do-it-yourself approach to PR. The company provides services that walk startups through the necessary process to get their name out there, and plays a match-making role in connecting them with journalists who they should be pitching to. The company demoed their startup today at the SeedStartup accelerator in Dubai.
Co-founded by Nicholas Holmes, a journalist by trade who also founded Clippings.me, a portfolio site for journalists, the company aims to take advantage of social data to make it easy for startups to get press coverage without cutting too deep into their budget. “The idea behind MediaGraph is that it opens up public relations to everybody. It’s partially inspired by my work as a journalist, and the fact that it’s always quite difficult to get stories from small businesses with stories to tell,” Holmes said in an interview.
The online portal acts like a virtual PR representative, first getting companies set up by integrating their social networks, industry information, and other contact information. Based on the company’s social network contacts and industry, MediaGraph provides a list of journalists that the founders or marketing reps should build a relationship with. Recognizing that building relationships with press is something not all entrepreneurs are skilled at, it provides prompts in the form of a PR plan, walking users step by step through everything from following a journalist on Twitter, to sending them an email to connect.
Another feature integrates with Lanyrd, a social conference directory, and alerts users when journalists they should connect with are attending a conference. Other features include the ability to monitor competitor activity in the press and social media, including a dashboard with graphs, metrics, and live Twitter feed as well as templates to refine pitches to make them more appealing to journalists.
“One of the things that I always used to love as a journalist was when I was pitched by founders and small business owners, because often you don’t want to deal with a PR agency. And what we wanted to do was to develop a tool that would allow small businesses to do this kind of thing because often they don’t have to means to approach journalists,” Holmes added. “They lack the experience or lack the network or they’re priced out because they can’t afford a PR company or wire service, so we came on to the program with idea that we would open up the art to those who couldn’t do it before, or who were priced out by PR companies.”
The company monetizes its platform through a freemium model, with the free account primarily giving users a feel for the interface and dashboard with all its features and functionality. It then charge anywhere from £19.99 to £39.99, and custom pricing for larger enterprises requiring access to more journalists.
Other companies are also out to disrupt the way companies traditionally get press coverage, one of them being MuckRack, which connects communication professionals with journalists on Twitter, and stealthy startup AirPR, which has yet to debut its platform. Journalist databases are also another competitor, with companies like Cision providing access to a wide array of contacts, events, and organizations from around the world. Gorkana is another UK-based company provides a comprehensive media database that provides both monitoring and analysis services. And of course PR agencies of all sizes focus directly on providing their services to startups.
MediaGraph’s pursuit of the small business market may give them an edge, especially because their platform comes at a much lower price than existing media databases and PR agencies. But with a focus exclusively on startups, they’re working with a limited pool of potential customers.
The PR industry has already gone through a great deal of disruption with the emergence, adoption, and dominance of social media channels. With PR agencies still thriving, it remains to be seen whether service providers like MediaGraph and MuckRack can replace traditional agencies and act as the bridge between those with a story with those who can broadcast it. Currently focused on targeting the technology startups in the UK, the company will look to expand their services to the U.S. over the next few months. MediaGraph will also be looking to evolve to more than just a platform to refine a pitch and discover journalists to contact, and will integrate with Clippings.me, Holmes’ other key project, and aim to become a hub for both sides of the table to connect.
Apply to participate in MediaGraph’s private beta by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.