Upbeat is a team of software engineers and PR professionals working together to bring the old-school PR industry to the modern world. We’re based in San Francisco and are backed by notable Silicon Valley investors including Y Combinator.
Here's a slideshow that others have found helpful. You're always welcome to email us to ask questions.
Very simply put, we help you pitch reporters to try to get your story covered.
When you sign up and after we've vetted your idea, you'll be paired with a PR expert on our team who will guide you through the setup process and help you put your best foot forward.
We'll help you:
By combining the power of software with human expertise, we're able to offer a more cost-effective option compared to traditional agencies that charge $10-20k a month, often with long-term contracts.
The price is $800 for one campaign and an annual membership. Every additional campaign with membership is only $500.
Our pricing was designed to eliminate the waste in the traditional retainer model and predictably scales up and down with your PR needs.
For example, if you are a startup, you might come to us in January with your launch announcement ($800), in March you may have a feature or a big customer partnership to introduce ($500), in May you may have a Mother's Day marketing campaign that you need PR support for ($500), and over the summer you might launch 3 more campaigns to position yourself as a thought leader in the space to get ready for fundraising ($500*3 = $1,500). In November, the election generated attention in your space, so you decided to pitch a story to speak about the election ($500). During the course of the year, Upbeat helps you evaluate the story ideas you are thinking of and monitors the media for opportunities on your behalf. The total spend in this hypothetical scenario is $3,800, which is what it costs to retain a PR freelancer outside of major US cities for one month.
A campaign is when we take your story, make it media-ready, and pitch it to journalists for you to try to get it covered.
At Upbeat, a campaign from beginning to end takes 4 weeks, except for when we manage exclusives, which adds another week to the process.
Week 1: We call you to interview you about the story, gather all the materials you have, discuss targeting, recommend tactics, and build you a media brief
Week 2-4: Upon your approval, we start pitching. We have an optimized pitching cadence that includes 1 initial pitch email and 2 follow-ups. We track every aspect of the process and have built tools such as an interview scheduler to make it very easy for journalists to engage. Depending on the engagement, we'll double-down to get a journalist connected with you or remove a journalist from more follow-ups. Prior to the 2nd follow-up, we'll have a chance to "pivot" to a different angle if there is one. Your Media Strategist will be your guide throughout the process, and you can keep track of the performance in real-time from the dashboard.
At the end of the campaign, you'll do a recap with your Media Strategist who will advise you on the best way forward.
Upbeat campaigns create leverage for you as the company operator. Scoring media attention is never predictable, but with Upbeat campaigns, we do the heavy-lifting so that you can focus on coming up with compelling narratives and stories to pitch. We can help workshop your ideas, but beyond that, the best way to know if your ideas are any good is to pitch them and let the market of journalists decide. A failed campaign is not an indictment on your company or story. Customers typically work with us over multiple campaigns, tweaking the messaging, incorporating new elements in their story, and switching up the pitching targets to ultimately result in coverage.
Membership gives you access to:
Yes. We can help you determine the optimal approach to sharing your story. Here are some of our rules.
Exclusives: This is one of the best currencies you can offer a journalist because it means that s/he gets to "break" the story with sufficient time to work and do a good job on it. We can help you decide it it's the right strategy and advise you on the potential trade-offs.
Embargoes: Embargoing a story is a way of sharing a story with journalists with the understanding that they must not write about it before an agreed upon time. Not every journalist honors embargoes, and most stories don't actually warrant embargoes. For example, simply telling a journalist that the story is under embargo until Tuesday without a real consequence is simply telling the journalist that she doesn't get to cover this story exclusively or in a meaningfully different way than anyone else. A real reason for an embargo is when you can make a strong case that everyone's going to cover the story (e.g. a big announcement from Facebook), and by agreeing to an embargo, journalists get to work on the story in advance and publish it instantly as soon as the embargo is removed. Another example is when Apple plans to approve your app's launch to the App Store on Tuesday, so publishing a story about your app prior to Tuesday would simply be a disservice to the readers. Your Upbeat Media Strategist can help evaluate if you have a fitting scenario for an embargo.
Sending samples or managing demo accounts: We can help you reach out to journalists who might be interested in receiving samples or demo accounts to test out your product, but you must send them the samples or set them up for demo accounts yourself. Please be mindful the shipping time and the time it takes for a busy journalist to actually give your product a try. Note that sending samples or demo accounts does not preclude the need to have a noteworthy story.
Physical media tours: Typically when you are launching a physical product, journalists want to see demos before they decide if they want to cover it. We can help you reach out and invite journalists to meet with you for an in-person demo. We ask that you make yourself available in media centers like SF, NYC, and LA. If you can't bring it to the journalists, we recommend booking a convenient location to showcase your wares. Because of the physical presence required, please make sure you give enough time for journalists to book it on their calendar. Also note that depending on what it is you are showing, journalists may not be interested, and when they do choose to cover, how they choose to cover you is up to them.
Here's a handy comparison table.
|Upbeat||Newswire services||Do It Yourself||Hire an agency|
|Effectiveness at securing true media coverage||Highly-targeted and personalized outreach with tactical and story development support||Untargeted email blasts to hundreds or thousands of journalists, depending on the package||Variable depending on how much work you are willing to put in||Targeted and personalized outreach with tactical and story development support|
|Cost||$800 to start and $500 per additional campaign||$249 membership + $350-$3,500 to send a 400-word release depending on which distribution list you select + fees for additional words and multimedia items.||Sample costs: $4,000 annual subscription to media database software, $40 a month for simple CRM, $25 a month for simple email campaign manager, $25 a month for media monitoring or reporting tools||$5-30k monthly retainer with long-term commitment|
|Low management overhead||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Dedicated PR manager||Yes||No||No||Yes|
We send personalized email pitches to targeted journalists and we follow up with them up to two times if we don't hear from a journalist. We monitor journalist engagement closely to make sure we in good standing with them. For example, if we find that engagement with a journalist is particular low, we stop sending new pitches in order to collect more data and learn more about their preferences before we continue pitching.
Here is a sample email pitch we send to journalists
Through the email pitch, a journalist can easily access your media brief for more information to help them cover the story. The media brief consists of an edited transcript from the 30-minute interview you did with your Media Strategist, along with any images and videos you provided. If you have a press release or a blog post available, we will use that as the media brief after editing. While your Media Strategist is responsible for getting a journalist interested in your story over email, journalists can book an interview time directly with you from the media brief.
The Media Brief we present to the journalists, with the interview scheduler button
We don’t guarantee media coverage.
Most agencies lock you into long-term engagements precisely because outreach campaigns are prone to fail. Even the best stories can suffer from poor timing or simply bad luck and not attract the attention of journalists.
Working with Upbeat is affordable and requires minimal overhead. You can expect a predictable and transparent effort from us for every PR campaign, as well as the guidance of your Media Strategist to help you become more successful over time. Instead of being bogged down by the details of executing an outreach campaign, we help develop your story with you, create the campaign materials and turn it into a media-ready media brief and pitch, identify the journalists most likely to write about the story, and handle all of the pitching, including multiple rounds of outreach and personal follow-ups. You can consult the dashboard and your Media Strategist to figure out how to best focus your effort to attract media attention. Between campaigns, you'll have a list of journalist leads that we can help you nurture and build relationships to ultimately result in more predictable media coverage in the future. Ultimately, our goal is to help you create leverage and put you in control of your PR.
We have worked with hundreds of companies. From large enterprises to non-profits to individuals to startups in all industries (e.g. education, real estate, trucking, pharmaceuticals, human resources). We can also coordinate with in-house marketing and communications teams, external agencies and freelancers, and other partners to deliver more efficiency. Because our software platform helps us learn about all kinds of journalists, we can work across any industry, locale, and work with any type of story. We have secured featured coverage from top brands like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, TV appearances on Good Morning America and local network affiliates, NPR radio and podcasts, and trade magazines, niche blogs, newsletters, etc. Check out our case studies to see the range of work we've accomplished. We believe we are a fit for most people as long as you have a good story to pitch.
We are NOT a fit if:
While it varies depending on the journalist and her audience, a good story in the traditional journalistic sense has the following qualities.
Before we can pitch a story for you, we first evaluate your story against the criteria above to make sure it has a chance of receiving coverage. Of course, we are wrong all the time, but we will get better at it.
You can read more about what makes for a good story by consulting these resources.
We are on-demand and can launch an outreach campaign in the matter of 24 hours. However, we recommend budgeting 1 week to set up with Upbeat before pitching. If you feel like your story is more complex in nature, we recommend reaching out earlier than 1 week before to make sure you have everything you need for us to pitch.
Generally, you want to have:
Some things you should definitely communicate with your Media Strategist upfront:
We can’t guarantee when the stories will get written or published after pitching. Most of the time we'll get a sense of how much interest there is within the first 3 weeks of the initial pitch date. We've seen stories get covered immediately on the same day as the pitch as well as several months later. Depending on how interested a journalist is, you can usually get an idea from the journalist. The more timely the story is, the easier it is to predict.
No. We write the pitches; journalists write the articles.
Yes, but you have to know that the chance of success is low.
If you are looking to pitch something you wrote for syndication or to be published as a contributor, we can help you pitch it to editors of sites that would take submissions, but the bar is much higher because the content is coming from a 3rd party instead of their in-house writers and vetted freelancers. Please discuss this with your Media Strategist to understand the chances.
Many publications explicitly forbid writing about crowdfunding projects because so many end up failing or not delivering, which is a disservice to the publications' readers.
We’ve streamlined the PR process and built a set of software tools to assist our PR experts.
The process is partially automated, and no, we don’t spam. A real human PR expert is reaching out to the media on your behalf. Some of the automated and semi-automated processes we’ve developed include:
No. Our Media Brief replaces the function of a press release as a definitive source on the story we are pitching for you.
If you are looking to distribute a press release through a newswire service, we recommend learning about it first. Some things newswire services will not be able to do for you: