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Why Upbeat is building the future of PR

by Ricky Yean

One of the most frustrating aspects about being a maker is telling the story of what you’re making. You toil away for years obsessed with your project. You want the world to know about it so you post something here on Medium and nobody reads it. You pay a fee to put out a press release and nobody reads it either. Agencies are too expensive, and their quality is hard to discern. Researching journalists yourself, building relationships, and learning how to pitch them takes a ton of time that you don’t have. It shouldn’t be this hard.

On the other hand, journalists are looking for great stories to tell, but they struggle to keep up in today’s intensely competitive media environment. Journalists are working harder and faster than ever, yet they are almost always under water, sifting through endless emails from less-than-credible sources, trying to find truth and meaning, and constantly having to react to whatever is happening on Twitter. They’re being pushed to the limit with no end in sight, and they’re burning out.

We’re building Upbeat to try to make a difference. Today, we are launching the modern PR agency at UpbeatPR.com (formerly known as PRX.co). We’re also unveiling an amazing set of investors behind our mission.

At Upbeat, we think the media industry is experiencing a massive coordination problem. Public Relations, or PR, is often the first stop when there is a story worth telling, and has historically played a central role in helping with the coordination. However, the solution we have today is barely better than what we had in the pre-Internet era. Instead of newswires, telegrams, and phones, we use email and Twitter. Sometimes we post on Product Hunt or Reddit, and a journalist may end up discovering it. Once in a while, a great Medium post gets shared enough that it finds its way to the right people, but we can’t count on it. What we’re doing today is completely ineffective and unsustainable.

To make meaningful progress, PR needs to leverage the massive amount of information available online to bring the right story to the right journalist. PR also needs to keep up with the ever-expanding definition of what it means to be a journalist and include influencers when appropriate. If audience reaction to any story is immediately visible through shares and Tweets, PR needs to make use of that information to help journalists understand the potential impact of their story. If anyone can easily look up anyone and anything online, PR needs to make an effort to vet stories for their veracity and credibility before pitching. As it stands, we are barely taking advantage of the technological progress to improve the process, and that’s why we’re building Upbeat to power how we tell stories in the future.

Every story we help connect to the right journalist feels magical to us, and we’re excited to make more and more connections. Our ambition is to make the PR process easy and accessible to companies, and ultimately helpful to journalists doing the hard work. We are living in one of the most transformative periods in modern media, and we hope to play an instrumental role through Upbeat. While we’re just getting started, a bunch of you have taken a chance on our service. Thank you for being the most critical part of our development.

Check out some of our launch coverage below, which includes first-hand experiences from journalists, and visit our website at UpbeatPR.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks Gaby Gulo, Zack Witten, Shane Wey, Jessica Tsai and Shravan Reddy for helping edit this post and Bérénice Magistretti, Laura Hazard Owen, Catherine Shu, Iris Dorbian for taking a hard look at our story and covering it for your readers.