Andrew: Hi there, Freedom Fighters, My name is Andrew Warner. I am the founder of Mixergy.com. I am the guy who refuses to take a breath while we talk because I have got too much time and I am too busy. Wait, let me slow it down. One of things that I notice when I watch my own interview is I just rip right through them. I have to go quiet here. Here I go. And this one is important as I have got a Mixergy fan on here, who I have been emailing for years. I just discovered some of his old emails in my inbox. And he thought something that coming on, well not just worthy of coming on Mixergy, but worthy of studying.
His name is Conrad Egusa. He is the founder of Publicize, a PR company that works for startups on a budget. And I invited him here as part of my $100,000 series where I interview entrepreneurs about how their businesses brought in about their first $100,000 in revenue.
The cool thing about his business is he undercuts all those expensive PR firms that charge 10,000 bucks plus a month. I know I used to pay 20,000 a month. Anyway I invited him here to hear how he did it and find out details behind the business. And this whole thing is sponsored by my friend, Karem [SP] Mayen, who noticed that his churn, he had a software business where he was charging on a monthly basis. He noticed that churn for companies like his is very high where people start to leave and you don’t want that to happen. And he found a way to keep people in there. If you are interested in what his system is, he is looking for a couple of people who can be his early customers. I signed I paid. If you want to check out what he is creating, go to Mixergy.com/LowerMyChurn, Mixergy.com/LowerMyChurn, it will be great to have you try it out if you are a good fit. But now, Conrad, welcome.
Conrad: Thank you so much for having me.
Andrew: Did I take a breath in that Intro or was that a little too fast?
Conrad: Oh yes, it’s perfect.
Andrew: I got to learn to be more of a presenter and lesser of like a fast talking business person. I hate when people when I am talking are slow . But I know, when you are recording, you have to take a little breath, you have to slow it down. Anyway, enough of me talking. I want to get to your story. And there was an interesting thing that happened to you a couple of years ago where you picked up the phone and called your dad. What made you have to call your dad back then? Of course, as soon as I put the camera on him, he is in Colombia and the connection stalled. Let’s give it a moment to reconnect. Are you there, Conrad?
Conrad: Yes. Dude
Andrew: There we go. We lost the connection for a moment. So what made you two years ago call your dad?
Conrad: So what happened was I had co-founded a [xx] in Madison [SP], Colombia called the [xx] and we had actually raised, had a commitment to raise funding for the space to raise. Really at the last minute about three weeks, three or four weeks before our launch the investment poured out. And actually my credit card was almost essentially almost maxed. There was no capital I could reach to. So I remember I called my father, Ah.
Andrew: Can you say why you suddenly needed to do it like what happened with the investors. Can you talk in more detail, the way you did to me before we started or is it too personal?
Conrad: Yeah, Yeah, No, no.
Andrew: What happened?
Conrad: Ah, some of the investors one, he is actually, he is still a very good friend . He was featured for our work week. Ah and another friend was a successful entrepreneur living in Madison and for various reasons one moved to Miami and the other was actually opening a large office in Canada and had a lot of capital expenses. And so for different reasons they decided for different reasons, they weren’t able to invest. And remember I called my father and said, I am in trouble, I don’t have anything to turn to even though I very rarely ever ask him for help. And I remember he said there things he said. First, he said, like Jesus, Conrad. Then he said, How much you want for it? And I told him the amount. And he paused may be for maybe 10 seconds and said, I will help you out. Then we got up the phone and he sent me the money the weekend.
Andrew: How much money?
Conrad: Ah, I am trying to remember the exact amount.
Andrew: Roughly, we are talking, one thousand, ten thousand , and hundred thousand.
Conrad: Ah probably, close to close maybe about ten.
Andrew: Ten thousand dollars.
Conrad: I don’t have the exact amount.
Andrew: Is your dad, a really wealthy man.
Conrad: Ah it’s a … Don’t really know especially right now. I mean, I think historically in the past, yes, but no not now.
Andrew: Yeah, he is not tossing around ten or thousand dollars here and there like it’s nothing. This was a big commitment for him. He invested the money in you and things were still tight even after that. And you told me before we started that in those tight situations is where you often come up with the best ideas. And the observations that you made that led you to come up with this idea that this business is based on is what, what’s the observation.
Conrad: Well, the idea is that traditionally pure forms charge about $10,000 a month with six month retainers. And that is not feasible for 90 to 90 % plus of the entrepreneurs out there. So the idea was could I take that same service and offer that as opposed to ten thousand more like 399 a month and make it month to month, so kind of create the most entrepreneur friendly pure service, I could really think of.
Andrew: And at the time you were trying to build one of these 10,000 plus a month PR firms. Brownstein Egusa, Brownstein & Egusa, I keep forgetting the and, Brownstein & Egusa. Right how did that go for you?
Conrad: So I think that went well, I think the biggest challenge I had was that, you know, you realize with the services company that you’re essentially just trading obviously your time for money and or that. And I couldn’t build I think [??] we used to talk about a 100 million dollar company. I couldn’t build a 100 million dollar company as this marketing services company.
Andrew: It sounds like you couldn’t even build a million dollar company that way. It was really you were doing okay, but not great with it.
Conrad: Yeah, I mean I think I was doing, I mean, in some ways living a great life where I could travel and work. But I think there are all these other challenges I always wanted to do, as well.
Andrew: So were you charging ten thousand a month? So this is in addition to Espoco you were also running Brownstein & Egusa, which is a PR company. Were you charging $10,000 a month back then?
Conrad: Yeah, so Brownstein & Egusa was, we actually focused on other areas so kind of full service online marketing. We were charging an hourly rate. But I think in general the engagement were about looking at hindsight probably up to $2,000 a month for different clients.
Andrew: Got you okay. So the PR was a small part of what you were doing. But you were also doing a SO, SEM, content marketing, et cetera. Conversion optimization. I see it was one of those situations where you said, you know I know a lot about marketing, I know a lot about publicity, I know about all this stuff. I’ll just do it as a consultant for companies. Got it.
And the reason you know about it is because you’re back story is you were a writer in VentureBeat.
Andrew: Where did you learn by writing for VentureBeat? One of the popular tech startup blogs?
Conrad: I think more than I could ever say. I mean, so many different lessons about how to approach the media. I think there’s so many myths as well. Something as small as about half of our stories were written when people emailed tips at VentureBeat.com. I think . . .
Andrew: I couldn’t believe that, that’s actually true half the stories came from people, was it half your stories or half the stories in general at VentureBeat?
Conrad: I would say half in general. So that exact number in general, for example I’d wake up and there’s kind of an online news room that everyone kind of coordinates in. And usually there’s one editor who’d poll let’s say, 10 or 15 stories half of which would come to the email to tips at VentureBeat. And then he’d say something like, hey everyone choice kind of two stories you’re interested in, something like that.
Andrew: Okay, and so you’d take those stories and go with them.
Conrad: Yeah, but keeping in mind that you know, there’s obviously other people take tips at VentureBeat as well, it wasn’t just me.
Andrew: Yeah, so I see some of the stories from back then, not another coupon buying site, coupon factory launches coupon platform. That sounds like something that might have come in from Tips at.
Conrad: Yeah probably.
Andrew: Let’s see one time Bill Gates assist employment appointed to new Microsoft marketing head. Got it.
Conrad: That was interesting story. That taught me that most people they look at the company itself as the most, what’s most important about the announcement, but it’s actually about the team as well. So I forgot about the . . . I remember I forgot who I was talking to about that. But it might have been another writer were I said, he said something like, ”Hey, Bill Gates old assistance is like working on something.” I said, ”Well, what it is. What is it?” He said, ”You know, it doesn’t even matter its Bill Gates old assistance let’s write about it.”
So I think a lot of people, what makes a story really interesting isn’t just necessarily the company but rather the founder, the founding team. Kind of the social [??] they bring.
Andrew: I see. That makes sense, you know when you’re writing you don’t think that seems like a detail but when you’re reading that’s the kind of detail that draws into the story. Not what his company is, in fact I’m looking through the story and I don’t even think the company and project was that, I can’t even see it in here. Oh, I see he was heading marketing for Microsoft Connect Sale, I don’t know. I’m trying to read it quickly, as we’re talking. But I get your point and I should just move on with that.
All right, so your dad helps you out. You still aren’t turning things around at the business. You come up with this idea that you know, maybe PR can be done a lot cheaper in the $300 to $600 price right or was $399 the initial price you had stuck in your head?
Conrad: It actually was. Well initially we actually moved to a recurring price model, but initially it was performance based. And the idea being you know, how you can really lose with that because, you know, they get value, you obviously get a ton of value, as well.
But actually we found a ton of challenges with that. So as an example we might have a pricing model that I’d say, ”Hey if we get a client on TechCrunch, we get a $1,000 bonus, or whatever it may be.” And then a client would say, ”Of course this sounds great.” Then you get them on TechCrunch and you know two months later you would still have challenges maybe getting them to pay.
Andrew: Oh, really they wouldn’t pay for that one hit that they got.
Conrad: Yeah, or I think a big account even if they would eventually pay it might take months to actually get them to. It just takes so much time and energy. I knew I wanted to move our model to recurring revenue where people would pay up front; and even if the amount is lower, if you think about how much time and energy it saves, I think both sides win on multiple fronts.
Andrew: Once you changed how did you get your first customer?
Conrad: The initial idea was I knew I wanted to create this–this is when I first reached out to you a while back, and–I always knew when I was helping just with friends with different PR outreaches that I spent all this time collecting reporter information. Hours upon hours. Like who am I going to contact at TechCrunch? How do I get their email? I have to search online, et cetera. The idea was we spent close to 100 hours collecting all this information we created as a free resource, then reached out to people like yourself, Steve Blank, Brad Feld, Guy Kawasaki–and many of them wrote about it, they linked to it, and it became this huge source of traffic. Even today.
Andrew: I remember that email. In fact, I see it. My response to you was, “Great, why isn’t Mixergy on this list?” Then the second response I had was, Why didn’t you go for email addresses? Why were you just saying who the writer was and how to find their tips link on the page?
Conrad: On the list we do have the tips, and we also have a second area with specific journalists as well. In general…
Andrew: With their email, or just their Twitter accounts?
Conrad: Email as well; both. Some, if we couldn’t find the email, just had their Twitter. In general we had both. The idea being usually when you email, let’s say tips at TechCrunch, you might have an operator who decides who best serves the story a opposed to you being able to email each of the people as well.
Andrew: I see; so you put that out there and then you were emailing people personally, like me, saying, Hey, I got this. What do you think? And some people wrote, including Guy Kawasaki, wrote about it.
Conrad: Absolutely, yes. It became this huge source of traffic even today.
Andrew: The Steve blank quote that you have at the top of one of those docs, that came from him via email?
Conrad: That came from him posting it on his website.
Andrew: Oh, really! Here, it’s “Conrad’s gift to all of us.”
Conrad: Yeah. It’s always remarkable to me, especially in the tech world, how accessible a lot of people are; yourself, obviously, and people like Steve Blank as well. If you write an email and craft it in the right way the responses you can get are remarkable.
Andrew: I see. Now I see why I didn’t catch the rest of the list; you have to sign up by giving an email address on Publicize.co and then you get the full list, right?
Conrad: Yes. That was somewhat new, but it’s always regardless been a great source of traffic for us.
Andrew: You put that out there, people start coming to the site; Do you remember the first person you converted to this 399 price?
Conrad: The first person–it was actually the value proposition; they would pay a small amount and then it was pure performance based. I was speaking to the companies over the phone and I said I’ve never really done this before. I’d tell people my background, etc. The person said to me it doesn’t even matter because your service is so much better than anything else I’ve seen that I’m going to sign up anyway.
Andrew: Why? How could he tell that the service was so good when you were just getting started? You basically has a list of reporters’ names and a webpage.
Conrad: One of the big things I did was regardless whether you work with me I’m going to explain exactly what I recommend you do. I think that really helped; to say here’s how you should craft your story, here’s the exact story line, here’s who you should offer it as an exclusive to–almost just adding as much value as possible. Then the attitude was it’s such an affordable price; you clearly know what you’re doing. The risk is so low.
Andrew: You mean that you were going to do it for them; you told them exactly what you–what they needed to do and you said I can do this for you, it will only cost you a few hundred bucks a month.
Andrew: Who was the client?
Conrad: The first two: one was called Data RPM, I think we got them [??] and I think [??] daily. The second was called Safely Filed dot com, we got them on [??]…[SS]…
Andrew: They found you through this process that we talked about, where you made this resource available, you promoted it, and people started to link to it. Is that right?
Conrad: Yes. That’s all that I did. Initially the whole world Publicize came from was a Word Press page that I scribbled some words on about what I wanted to offer.
Andrew: Safely Filed dot com was one of your clients, as you said. I’ve got notes here about what you did. Can you talk to the audience about what it was? How you got them some press?
Conrad: Yes. Safely Filed is interesting because if you visit the website you’d never imagine it being on Tech Crunch or Venture Beat. They ended up getting on Venture Beat; I think Next Web and a few others. A lot of friends would say Conrad, of course you got them on Venture Beat; you know the writers there. I do know the writers there, but it’s important you know I wrote to Venture Beat on behalf of the founder. I talked to him about this. He’s this retired, 60-year-old insurance executive in Chicago who knows no one from Silicon Valley; you wouldn’t imagine him getting on this site, and it verified to me that if you approach PR the right way I doesn’t matter if you have these connections or if you’re Mark Zuckerberg’s sister or whomever you may be. You…
Andrew: You’re saying, and I’ll let the connection catch up in a moment, but you saying you–actually, no. This is good question, I need him to come on here. Let’s wait for the connection to come back.
Andrew: There we go. You wrote to them on his behalf, meaning you sent email from his account.
Conrad: Yep. We had him do something like put an extra middle initial for his gmail; so I used that one.
Andrew: Got it: He created a second account with his name for you. I always suspected that PR people do that, they email on behalf of their clients but it looks like it’s coming from their client.
Conrad: There are pros and cons to it. The con is that you could make a mistake. Maybe you email Micheal Erington[SP] and you address him with the wrong name. If you ever did that on behalf of a client it’s, you know… I wouldn’t recommend people do that. But I’m sure there are companies that do.
Andrew: You did it, on his behalf; and that’s why you can say, “You don’t need to have connections, you just need to be an entrepreneur who can write the right email.”
Andrew: I see. What did you say that got- Actually, let me see if I understand what this site is. I know Safely Filed from somewhere. What do they do? I think they store your medical information, right?
Conrad: Essentially store your information. I think it’s target audience is more an older audience because the 2 founders are over 60, each of them. It’s essentially a SaaS business model. The way I pitched it to potential writers was the most interesting thing about these founders is they were over 60 years old. I always recommend people have 1 to 2 pieces of social proof you can mention and stand out; it could be where you went to school or you used to work at Google, etc.
But if you don’t have that what’s most interesting are the 1 to 2 things that make you different that everyone else. A lot of founders will reach out and say Hi I’m John, I’m a bootstrap entrepreneur. There are 50 million other bootstrap entrepreneurs. If you say something like Hi I’m John, I’m a 16-year-old mobile app developer, you’re going to get their ear. There are not that many 16-year-olds emailing Tech Crunch every day.
Andrew: That got you in there and that got them some attention. How did you get the next set of clients?
Conrad: I created a specific email; I looked at all the accelerators like Y Combinator and Tech Stars and sent an email saying here’s this free resource that I created. Then there was a second email for the ones who responded that said if you’re interested I just launched this PR service and I’m happy to talk about it. That was very effective; it still is very effective today.
Andrew: That got you press? Just saying to anyone who responded to this resource, by the way I launched a PR company.
Conrad: I’m sorry; that didn’t get me press, that got me new clients.
Andrew: Oh, I see, directly from the reporter.
Conrad: Oh, no. I’m sorry, I thought the question was how I got my other next [SS] clients…
Andrew: Yes, it was. I guess I misunderstood. You know I think wearing a jacket is starting to exhaust me. I’m sweating bullets under here. I can’t sit still usually but for some reason even for an hour for the interview I sweat if I have to sit still, and I’m getting hot. Maybe that’s what’s happening: the heat is affecting my memory. I thought what you were saying was you emailed reporters and you said, here’s my list. If any of them responded back you connected with them and got some press, but no- you’re saying something different.
Conrad: Oh, yes. I thought the question was how did I get- How do I go from 2 to 15 or 20 clients? One of the things I did was I looked that I know my clients are going to be start-ups with a little bit of funding, so what makes sense? Y Combinator, Tech Stars, [??] start-ups; and it’s not that hard to find a list of basically the companies in those classes. And I sent an email to each of them basically just saying, the first email said, ”Hey here’s this free PR resource, like nothing else. I hope this will help.” And then once they responded I would send a follow-up and say, hey, here’s a, if you’re interested I just launched this like free PR service. Not free PR, PR service. I’m happy to talk about it. And over time that probably boosted my too kind of the second ways. And even today’s that’s effective I’ve found.
Andrew: Who does that now? Do you still do that?
Conrad: Yeah, so we delegate to a member of our team to essential do different email average. Andrew: Just email out to entrepreneurs with the resource and if they respond back, say we also run a PR company if you need some help.
Conrad: Yeah, absolutely.
Andrew: I see on your home page, I love this line, ”Join 8 Plus, Y Combinator startups working with Publicize, including Curebit, 500 friend’s etcetera.”
Conrad: Yeah, and I think I helped once I kind of built a reputation especially within the startup communities. In that one thing that helped I reached out to friend of mine in Y Combinator. And he . . . I basically just wrote this long letter say, like this is all the advice that I recommend to Y Combinator companies and what I think some of you guys have done wrong. And he published, he sent it out and obviously it’s all about building reputation and adding as much value as you can.
Andrew: What are some of the things they did wrong?
Conrad: So a big mistake I think people make is when they go to make an announcement they’ll say something like, ”Hey we’re about to launch our company and we’re also raising two million dollars.” So you think about it, ideally you’d reach out to let’s say, Wall Street Journal on day one that you launch. And ten weeks later you’ve announced your funding round and you get that on TechCrunch or VentureBeat, et cetera.
So you kind downfall the press coverage. Opposed if you combine them to one announcement you’re just not optimizing it as much as you should.
Andrew: I see. What other mistakes are they making?
Conrad: Let me see. I think a big one especially the Y Combinator’s, I think there’s a special connection with TechCrunch. They don’t do enough, I think to follow-up on medium sized publications as well. I think the biggest secret weapon to SCO for example is PR just, because all these high patron sites. So for them they could like really make a bigger difference emailing more people as opposed to hey that’s just one journalist at TechCrunch every time.
Andrew: I see. You also said for smaller companies one of the big problems they have is, they email a reporter and say, write about my firm as opposed to saying write about an event related to my firm like launch.
Conrad: Yeah, I used to have this all the time, in VentureBeat a friend would come to me in New York and he would say, ”Hey, Conrad please write about my company.” And I would say, ”Sure, you’re my friend what are you have to announce?” And they would say, ”We don’t have anything to announce.” And I would say, ”You’re my friend, but I can’t cover you because there’s no news.”
So as opposed to when people usually ask well what’s a good announcement like for the startup life cycle typically a startup or launch, maybe ten weeks later they’ll hit a mile stone. Ten weeks later they may announce an Angel Round. Ten weeks later they do a Mobile App. Kind of and each of these points, these mile stones when you reach out to journalist at Mashville you shouldn’t say, ”Cover my company.” You should say, ”My companies about for example, we just launched a Mobile App, Do you want to cover the launch of the Mobile App?”
Andrew: I see. How do you manufacture an event, something that’s worthy of having people talk about it?
Conrad: Let me see. I think there are a lot of different things you can do. The biggest thing that a company should so is, actually if you look at the next year you probably can think of four or five news worthy events that you’re going to make. In a lot of ways you don’t even manufacture you just have to identify what’s already going to happen.
And then just keep in mind like okay, well in ten weeks we’re going to do that. Well you know four weeks ahead of time we should begin preparing to try to get as much press coverage as possible.
Andrew: Tell me if this is inappropriate. I’m extremely hot, I don’t usually wear a jacket and love sleeve shirt but I hired a consultant. If I just go back into my t-shirt that I sit around all day doing work in, that’s okay, right? Or is that a PR mistake?
Conrad: I don’t think that’s a PR mistake.
Andrew: You don’t know. Is it a PR event, is it worth emailing out to press journalist and saying, Andrew strips in an interview? You look like you’re cool in your jacket. Meanwhile you’re in South America, it can’t be that comfortable there, in long sleeves. I got to toss this shirt, I’m done with it. There we go. What do you think, to laid-back? I think actually this is the way I should be going back to doing my interviews. Get a nice shirt, forget about the jacket just be relaxed. I feel more comfortable like this, I can actually move my arms.
Here’s another thing I want to know. The PR process is very relationship intense. You have to spend a lot of time talking to customers, talking to the press, building those relationships, getting to know your customer or your client, figuring out how to take them to the right reporter. How do you create a process that allows you to do that on the cheap?
Conrad: I think there are things that you could do, but I think when people say for example, that PR is very relationship based, I think that’s an assumption that is necessarily true. And the reason why I say that is that I’ve tested this over and over again with different clients, that if you follow everything the right way. And this is the same for example with the Wall Street Journal, with the New York Times, it’s not necessarily just TechCrunch and you can get these really good results.
I think a lot of it has to do with social proof. As an example, if somebody wrote you and said, you know, ”Hi my name is John, I’m a Harvard Business School graduate I’ve have X,Y, Z.” I think we’re already probably have certain amount of trust for that person more so then if he didn’t identify anything about himself.
In terms of okay, trend setter…
Andrew: So how do you do that for the Wall Street Journal? Yeah, how do you do that for the Wall Street Journal?
Conrad: You know, all really contract would go through email, and send an email. For example, if I was doing this for myself and I said, for sponsor I’d say, ”Hi my name is Conrad Egusa. I’m a former VentureBeat writer early and a mentor at the Founder Institute and I’m about to launch a new venture and I was wondering if you’d like an explosive on the story.”
Andrew: That’s what you’re talking about for social proof. That you keep going back to the VentureBeat experience for a reason because that gives you credibility, it gives them social proof.
Conrad: Yeah, absolutely. I think people would look at that and say, wow maybe I don’t know that person but I probably know people who do know him. And then, hey he includes his LinkedIn profile we have, you know, ten mutual connections. Out of all these things that kind of build the level of trust that I think are really important.
Andrew: I see, okay. So if someone who used to work at Dropbox we’re going to try to get press for a new start-up it makes sense to say, I’m a former Dropbox whatever the title was and I have this new idea.
Conrad: Yeah, absolutely. And I think one of the things that’s important is this isn’t necessarily just specific to, well let’s say traditional media publications. I mean the same goes for someone like you like it’s very hard for people to get in touch with you. Someone just said, might have just said, hi my name is, or this is Conrad Egusa and I want to be on your show. You know, you’d probably say, ”I get a thousand emails every day, like why should I listen to this specific person.” As opposed to if I said, ”Hi my name is Conrad Egusa . . .
Andrew: That’s what you did, in past interview we introduce us and I remember seeing this email and I said to myself, this is such a frickin long email. But I like Nick Reese, he was on Mixergy I got to respect the fact that it’s coming from Nick Reese, and I read the whole thing. And then we talked a little bit and I introduced you to Ann Marie and then she followed up. And ordinarily if you hadn’t, even though you were in my inbox before because we talked in the past, if it hadn’t come from Nick Reese I think I would have just said I think this is too much work. We don’t need that much work to get another guest.
Conrad: Yeah, and I think, so when I look at for example for traditional media someone say, hey do relationships matter, like relationships do matter. But the reason why I emphasize you don’t need the relationship is that if a lot of people would say, oh relationships not all matter. Okay that means I can never email someone for the New York Times or TechCrunch because I haven’t met that person before.
And I’ve seen to many data points were that’s, you know, that’s not true. So relationships do matter, and something you could do for example if you have a phone call with somebody or they were nice to write a story send them a nice small gift of chocolates or something that shows that you really appreciate their time. And I think over time, you know, you’ll begin to build relationship with that person.
Andrew: So but if you get someone’s email address off of your list or anywhere else, it’s not that hard to find a reporters email address. If you get the email address where do you find the connection that makes them open up the email and take it seriously the way I did because Nick Reese sent the intro?
Conrad: Well specific to media publication, a big thing to let someone stand out is to offer and exclusive. So what that means is let’s say I’m about to launch for example we launched, we officially launched Publicize, if I just email let’s say [??] and all these different sites. I then know that the email they’re getting with the [??] based that’s going to be sent off to probably, you know, 200-300 other publications, they know that.
So one way to make yourself stand out is to offer an exclusive, which basically means that journalist has first right to publish the story.
And that’s a great way to make yourself stand out because today with media it’s all about who breaks with the most stories, and the most important stories.
Andrew: All right, what about a system for allowing the PR to come without you having to generate it. So that you can hire someone else to do it. I’ve heard you have some kind of system or you’re working on a process that will allow that to happen.
Conrad: Yeah. So, well, today for example Publicize is about 10 people strong now and I think one of the interesting things about Publicize now is I used to be involved in every single campaign. And now, it’s really the team that works on that. Which is kind of weird, and the results have been better than they’ve ever been. I think…
Andrew: So what’s the process that you give them that allows them to do the work for you, for the organization?
Conrad: Yeah. I think that it’s very… our simple process would be that we take a story and make it 10 times larger. We identify the one to two points with social proof. We offer it as an exclusive to limited sites, so Tech Crunch, Wall Street Journal, Venture Beat. And then we reach out to different, whether its prior publications that we’ve gotten to know, to try to further coverage as much as possible.
Andrew: So it’s go through the story and look for the social proof. Contact the major sites and ask them if they want an exclusive and then go on to the others that are related. That’s it. And what do you email out?
Conrad: Sorry, I think the one step that’s missing is it’s really important to make the story much larger than it actually is. So, as an example, Sponsor. [sp] Sponsor is a co-working space. That’s not that interesting, right? Those open every two weeks. Why did Sponsor get on Tech Crunch BBC and Financial Times and these others? The reason why is when we launched we didn’t say, “Hey we’re launching this co-working space that has 30 chairs,” whatever it is. We said, “We’re launching this co-working space because we want to turn this city into the Silicon Valley of Latin America.” That was the big story that we tied it into.
That’s important for any company when they’re reaching out to the media, to make their story seem much bigger than it is. And what I normally recommend to people is that you know when you’re in the gym you’re about to go to bed and you’re daydreaming about your company and you’re like “We’re going to be, in a year and a half, like 100 people and taking over the world.” That’s what you should emphasize in your press release. That’s the bigger idea. That’s what we do for…
Andrew: I see, you help them find a way of making the story bigger than the company itself. But don’t a lot of entrepreneurs start to feel that they’re being imposters if they say things like, “This is going to be…” I’m looking at the Tech Crunch article now, “…the Silicon Valley of Latin America.”?
Conrad: I don’t think so. But I think, it’s not that they’re necessarily being imposters, just most entrepreneurs I’ve talked to are daydreaming how big and important they want their company to become. Whether it’s a for profit or nonprofit. And if you talk about that, I think that what makes for an interesting story. I mean, a lot of the mistakes that people make is that they focus too much on the existing features of the current product. But people can visit your site and figure out what the existing features are. It’s not particularly interesting. It’s more about, “Hey, where is this entrepreneur going to take this?”
Andrew: I see. I see.
Conrad: And I think the beautiful part of it now today as well is that the biggest companies today, what’s kind of the same, they did start off looking like tourists. Look at Facebook and twitter and I think change is escalating so quickly now who knows where people are going to be two or three years down the road.
Andrew: Alright, so you know what? Can we try this? So my friend Kareem wants to help entrepreneurs lower their churn.
Andrew: I don’t even know whether people in the audience understand the word churn. Unless they have software as a surveys or some kind of membership where people have to pay on a monthly basis and some of them end up not. They don’t know the word, churn. How do you make that into a bigger than life issue worth talking about?
Conrad: Yeah. Well I think that it kind of goes back to about half the story’s going to be about the product company itself and half the story’s going to be about the founder.
Andrew: I see. So if we can’t make churn into a big story, then we have to look at the founder and say, “What is interesting about this guy?”
Conrad: Yeah, when you thing about it, Publicize…I look at it as a PR start up because we’re going to be introducing a lot of software and doing a lot of things. It’s a PR company. Why is Tech Crunch writing about a PR firm? Why? Are they going to write about an SEO firm? What made it interesting was my background. That’s what I would recommend to the friend and say, “Hey, what’s interesting about this specific person?” It’s not necessarily the company.
Andrew: I see. I’m looking at the Tech Crunch article about you. For some reason, I keep going to your Tech Crunch articles. “With Publicize, former tech blogger Conrad Egusa offers a more affordable approach to start up PR.” I see. So there again, they’re touching on what’s interesting about you.
Andrew: All right, so the other thing that I noticed about you. I said before we started, I’m not sure that I haven’t been able to confirm the numbers that you’re telling us and I know we’re just talking about the hundred-thousand series, which means that the barrier is lower but I can’t even confirm that. And you sent me proof, which is screenshots from one shopping cart.
Andrew: Why just one shopping cart?
Conrad: So I actually used one shopping cart because back in the day I was- I craved this product. It was actually to help people study for the GMAT exam. And…
Andrew: Wasn’t it called ‘Beat the GMAT’ or something? No, not ‘Beat the GMAT…’
Conrad: No, this was ‘2-Minute GMAT.’
Andrew: ‘2-Minute GMAT’, there you go.
Conrad: And that’s why we continued to use it, essentially.
Andrew: I see. So you just said, I need a shopping cart, I already have it. Why bother figuring out Skype or creating a whole other system? Let’s use what we have.
Andrew: And it sets people up on a recurring basis so they get charged and every month you keep working for them.
Andrew: What kind of PR can you keep on doing on an ongoing basis for startups?
Conrad: I think a couple things. So one is, ideally a startup will have an announcement every 10-12 weeks.
Conrad: So…And one of the things that’s important, maybe a product has a big startup launch and you try to get that on the next web or TechCrunch. They’re also going be smaller announcements like, I don’t think many people realize how many hundreds upon hundreds of different publications across many verticals there are. So there’s that. I think that there are other things you can do with it as well, from simple targeting. More, for example, hyper local media. Think you can target, like, verticals as well. If you’re, let’s say, a health mobile app, that intersects with tech but it also obviously intersects with like, with health and other sections as well. So…
Andrew: So you guys just keep looking for these stores and putting stuff in? Is turn an issue for you? Because if an entrepreneur doesn’t get a hit somewhere, he feels like he’s wasted money for the month?
Conrad: Actually that has been, and that’s a big initiative that we’re pushing forward to essentially…Kind of do whatever we can to guarantee more media coverage. And I think the results today have been so much better than they’ve ever been but you know, even if we get 67% clients on TechCrunch VentureBeat, which would be a fantastic result, all of our other large publications, that still mean’s 30% + aren’t. So that’s something we’re continuing introducing. I think the benefit that we have is that the lead centers continue to escalate. One of the things I’m proud about with Publicize, I don’t think we’re 20% than anyone else. I think we’re probably 200 times better than anyone else. So I think people kind of realized that pretty quickly on.
Andrew: Why are you 200 times better than the company that charges $10-$20,000 a month?
Conrad: Oh, I think for one, just the results that we’re getting. Also the price point as well. You know if you’re a company and you say, “Hey I just raised $3,000,” you know, $10,000 a month for a PR firm isn’t even an option. So the idea is…
Andrew: Okay so the ideal is $3,000 and they come to you?
Conrad: I’m sorry, probably said $30,000.
Andrew: Oh 30, okay.
Conrad: Yeah, I mean just hypothetical. Even less than $100,000. Or even more than that. I think the hypothesis behind Publicize is that there…Every day, thousands of new companies across all these different verticals that traditional PR firms, you know, can’t provide for. And we think that’s going to be a great market.
Andrew: What about Ramit? I saw that you got on Ramit Sethi’s site, he e-mailed his customers about you. What did yhou do to convince him to do- to write a post about you? Or actually, let you write a post on his site?
Conrad: Yeah, I mean I contact him the exact same way I would contact TechCrunch VentureBeat and all these…And I didn’t have an introduction to him, actually.
Andrew: You just shot him an e-mail and you said, “I have an idea for your audience. Can I write this up for you?”
Conrad: Mm-hmm. Yep.
Andrew: I see.
Conrad: Exactly that.
Andrew: All right, where can people connect with you if they want to follow up?
Conrad: At Publicize. co and on LinkedIn, I use pretty often. It’s just a commonly used site.
Andrew: I know, I’m surprised that you use LinkedIn. That’s how you contacted me a few years ago. [laughs] Why do you use LinkedIn? Why don’t you just get my e-mail address and just e-mail me directly?
Conrad: ‘Cause your email address is very hard to find online. [laughs]
Andrew: I see.
Conrad: You’ve done a very good job of securing it. That’s why I use LinkedIn. [laughs]
Andrew: All right, well, congratulations on all your success! Thanks for coming out here and doing this interview. Actually, wait where’s the multi-revenue now?
Conrad: We’re basically encroaching soon to be 30,000.
Andrew: 30,000 a month soon. And this has been 15 months since you launched.
Conrad: Yeah, so officially we launched in March. That’s when we moved to Publicize.co, before [it was] BounceEgusa [SP]. So I would say… Well, it’s hard to say- I look at it as the start date because the other before, was kind of still a division of BounceEgusa.
Andrew: So about 6 months ago.
Conrad: Yeah, about so.
Andrew: All right. Well, thank you so much for doing this interview. Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye everyone!