If there is something my fifteen years in public relations and nearly a decade in journalism taught me, it's that every industry reaches a threshold of productivity before it's time to embrace a new change. People are finding quicker methods for communicating and sharing information. What was once said with a page was then articulated with a paragraph; then a sentence, and now an image with some well placed hashtags. We're embracing Instagram images and tweets and rolling our eyes at long form declarations.
So why are businesses, brands and people still using 700 word press releases and page-long PR pitches if it doesn't suit today's current communicative mindscape? Why are we still jamming up email inboxes when we could be telling our stories more concisely, and to an audience who wants to view them?
In a May 4, 2014 article written by Emma McGowan titled, "The Best Way to Boost Your Startups PR Game" the rift between PR goals and journalist goals are so clearly outlined. "As both a blogger and someone who does PR work for startups I can tell you this: the current pitching system is broken. On one side, you have companies who desperately want to get out the word about their products but either don't have the right contacts or don't understand how to properly pitch a journalist. On the other side, you have bloggers and journalists who are searching for quality topics in their niche to write about but don't have an efficient way to find them, all while being bombarded with anonymous, spammy pitches."
We felt it was time for the public relations industry, and for PR efforts as a whole, to go mobile. The UPitch app fits how people like to share and receive information in this second decade of the 21st century. We also happen to know there are some brilliant start-ups, artists, pioneers, organizations and other worthy projects out there that deserve a shot at media coverage, but who can't afford PR firms or expensive press release distribution. Their news is worthy of being seen, just the same. This app levels the playing field. A pitch brimming with awesomeness is going to get a lot of right swipes, and a pitch that falls flat will get swiped to the left (yes, the UPitch app is Tinder for media relations instead of personal relations).
During the eight months that my team and I were in development on the UPitch app, our goal was to achieve accessibility, availability and advancement in how people pitch news to journalists and how journalists and bloggers discover news.
To quote an Inc.com article titled, "8 Apps That Put PR in Your Pocket, " written by Lisa Calhoun, "Try UPitch. It's "Tinder" for stories - a discovery platform that helps make a match. Journalists can filter for their interests. They swipe right on stories they want to know more about. You don't worry about media lists: journalists have to find your story. I love how this sidesteps lists. It lets your story idea compete on pure awesomeness."
We want getting your news out there to be as simple and accessible as taking out your smartphone, typing up a brief pitch and hitting "submit." We want journalists to be able to search for story ideas and sources on their own terms: taking out their smartphone, opening UPitch, choosing a beat, and swiping through quick, catchy pitches that resemble an extended tweet more so than a long press release.
We don't know about you, but we love to imagine ourselves a world where a great story and an app is all you need to get noticed.
We've been asked why we are decimating the art of the traditional press release and some have suggested we are crazy to attempt to revamp an industry that has held strong to the same paradigms for eons. We aren't changing the industry, but rather being the first to adapt to an industry that is already changing. We're helping people along the way while we're at it. We also understand the value of the PR rep and journalist relationship and hope our app will foster more of those relationships. And at the end of the day, a journalist's best relationship is with their next great story.
I sometimes grow wistful at the demise of the vinyl record player, the Sony Walkman, bench seats in cars, rotary telephones and old crock pots (damn microwaves!). In fact, I have big plans to decorate a room in my home with all 20th Century memorabilia. Doesn't that sound fun?
But here's the rub; business, particularly the business of communications and public relations, is about forward movement, mobile technology and making the once inaccessible, accessible for everyone. Our times belong to the forward thinkers who birth into the world utilities of mass opportunity.
I'm proud to be one of the crazy ones.