If you’re old enough, think back to a time before Google. Try to recall how advertising agencies used to work. Remember how awful it was ?
“This is the state of public relations today”, says Louis Thibault, co-founder and CEO of the London-based CommTech startup Presscast.io. “Public relations refuse to provide the answer to a simple question: “how much money are you making me ?”
Prior to Google Ads, advertising agencies collectively refused to provide accurate, truthful measures of success for their campaigns, downplaying the importance of numbers in advertising and setting fuzzy goals like increasing one’s “brand appeal”.
Google Ads managed to disrupt a whole industry by exposing an industry-wide farce, Thibault says. “What’s the difference between the terms brand appeal and top-of-mind ? They’re targets that are impossible to miss, and this is by design.”
Same problem, same solution
“Businesses want to compare how much they spend and how much they earn,” explains Thibault. “This is basic stuff; Is my PR campaign costing me more than it’s earning?”
Presscast’s ambition is to provide a clear response to this question by taking a page out of Google’s book. Companies can submit a small contribution (roughly the size of a tweet) to articles before they’re published, and pay the media directly if their text is published. This “pay-per-result” approach allows the company to track expenses article-by-article, and performance is evaluated on the basis of detailed readership statistics.
“Our clients know exactly who’s reading their contributions, and they can include links in their contributions.” Says co-founder and CTO Casey Chance. “They can optimize their click-through rates by tweaking the hyperlink text and tweaking the articles to which they contribute”.
Tremors of disruption
“Initially, people were skeptical,” says Louis Thibault. “People didn’t believe the media would be interested, or didn’t believe the links would have any SEO value.” In the 6 months since Presscast’s stealth launch, the service has recruited an impressive 4,000 users and no fewer than 30 publishers.
“We started in the Fintech space because, well … London!” says Louis Thibault. The marketplace is still focused on tech, financial services and SMB news, but is rapidly gaining traction in other markets such as business services, but also in B2C markets like fashion.
“Our core market is B2B companies, because social media doesn’t serve them well,” says Chance, “but we’re turning heads in B2C circles as well.”