https://innovateuk.blog.gov.uk/2016/09/05/meet-our-customers-pingo/

Automating PR for small businesses

Written by Sarah A Lee, Founder of PingGo

Building a PR machine. Disrupting PR.

Meet our customers - Pingo logo

Companies need the oxygen of publicity to grow. But hiring a PR agency is expensive, making it out of reach for most small businesses.

I’ve worked in PR for 20 years. Every day I see companies with amazing stories to tell, which sadly never reach the press.

And so, I decided to build PingGo, a do-it-yourself PR machine, for companies that want to make headline news but don’t know where to start.

Can it be done? Yes.

But what is a PR machine?

News writing is formulaic and press releases follow certain rules. Once you know that formula you can write any press release and tell your story either in the media or on your own channels.

We are now half way through our 12-month mission to automate public relations. Despite a seismic shift in the media landscape over the last decade, PR has remained virtually untouched.

While the number of channels has increased, the process by which news passes from the source to the page (printed or digital) remains the same.

PingGo disrupts that relationship and connects the source of the news with the media for the first time.

Meet our customers - Pingo user testing
Sarah A Lee, Founder of PingGo

Will automated PR cannibalise the PR market?

No.

PingGo is aimed at companies that simply don’t have the budget to pay for the time it takes a PR agency to understand a new business, create a narrative and nurture ongoing relationships with the press.

PingGo democratises PR

It puts control in the hands of business and gives press access to stories that would normally stay under their radar.

How would an automated PR machine work?

Pingo template options
PingGo template options

It works by asking you, the user, a series of probing questions. Following this interview PingGo takes your answers and puts them in order: who, what, where, when and why.

The result? A press release you can edit and share.

PingGo then helps you to identify a handful of journalists who cover your sector. It explains how to pitch to the media and follow up, to lock down coverage and reach new audiences.

Of course, all news is not created equal. Major announcements you will want to send to the press. But some stories work best on your blog or social media channels. PingGo will help you decide.

I made a start, but needed help to get to the next step

Having bootstrapped PingGo for three years and built the prototype twice, I had run out of funds to complete the build and turn minimum viable product into a product that worked.

Last summer Innovate UK brought Launchpad to Edinburgh in partnership with:

  • Creative Edinburgh
  • CodeBase
  • Edinburgh Festivals

With a million pounds on offer it sparked a massive amount of interest from the startup community.

In the end only five companies were successful. PingGo was one of them. And that changed everything.

UK startup competition is high

The process of elimination we went through was tough. Every step was difficult - but I had a good idea that I had spent three years validating and that I could persuasively articulate.

Most importantly, I passionately wanted to win the funding to secure the future of PingGo because I knew that if I didn’t build it, someone else will.

The challenges to getting Innovate UK funding are high. But as I successfully passed every milestone, I became more and more confident. This spurred me on to keep going through every phase.

I am learning all the time on this project and I am growing as an entrepreneur every day.

Government backing was pivotal to PingGo’s survival

The validation I got from being recognised by Innovate UK was pivotal to me continuing with PingGo.

After three years, I still believed in the idea of building a PR machine but I did not have the financial or emotional resources to chase the dream.

Thanks to Innovate UK funding, PingGo will launch in 2017, and it will help businesses the world over changing the way we do PR forever.

Contact us

If you would like to be part of the PingGo revolution we are accepting beta applications now so sign up at www.ping-go.com and we’ll be in touch.

Follow us on Twitter: @pinggonews

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