Presscast’s co-founders are self-professed media & publishing fanatics with a chip on their shoulder, and they’re out to disrupt the advertisers they blame for journalism’s decline.
“Our goal is to breathe new life into media”, explains Louis Thibault, co-founder of Presscast.io. What started out as a frustrating realization about the corrosive nature of online advertising has morphed into a full-blown startup, one that’s making online publishers very happy, and their fair-weather friends, public relations and advertising, very nervous.
Let’s back up a bit. Why does the media need to be resuscitated ? Two reasons.
First, “subscription media has basically disappeared” says Thibault. News sites, e-zines, blogs, etc, “they all have no choice but to sustain themselves with CPM ad revenue, and that’s a terrible business model. The margins are razor thin, and every time you show an ad, your readers hate you a little bit more.”
And then there’s PR. According to Publicis Media, there are approximately 10 PR agents for each journalist, and it’s the PR agents who rake in the lion’s share of profits. “It’s completely absurd,” he adds. “On the one hand you have journalists struggling to pay rent, and on the other hand you have PR agents who are laughing all the way to the bank”.
According to the same Publicis study, the median salary for a PR agent with 5 years experience in the UK is £45,950, versus £23,468 for a journalist with a comparable track record.
And therein lies the crux of Presscast’s strategy : “What if that money went directly to the media, instead of the PR agent?” asks Louis Thibault. “You’d have journalists and creatives earning a living wage, and you’d drive down the costs of public relations. That’s a net win for society.”
Give back to publishers, not to PR agents
Today, the communication industry charges hourly or daily, with little pressure to produce actual results. A company paying a PR agency has no direct guarantee that its message is going to be published, seen or read.
Presscast’s move is a bold one: create an online marketplace that pays publishers each time an expert is quoted in a story. This incentivizes publishers to pursue high-quality stories instead of producing clickbait or fake news.
Presscast says its product is between 3x and 50x cheaper than traditional PR consultants and agencies. Business founders have a more cost-effective, accountable and reliable way to get their message out.
And for the experts paying to be quoted, the offer is alluring. “Startups don’t have £2k per month to spend on ‘maybe’,” concludes the co-founder. “When they pay, it needs to be for results.”