What sparked the idea of JournoLink? Listening to businesses, and listening to journalists, the lightbulb moved from dim to bright and we said, 'What if we could link journalists to small businesses?' So that's just what we set out to do and that's just what we have found ourselves doing. Not creating another PR agency commanding huge retainer fees, but sticking to the original plan of enabling small businesses to manage their PR for no more than £25 a month. The model has developed as it has been built, adding, refining, morphing into a serious platform solution for over 3000 businesses.
What makes JournoLink stand out from other businesses? The real difference with JournoLink is that we genuinely have put ourselves in the position of the small business client we want to attract. Understanding how they think, the time pressures they are under, the nervousness associated with dealing with the media, and last but by no means least, the limitations on the budgets of small businesses. We have created an easy to use platform that gives a business all they need to manage their PR strategy which we have supported this with tutorials, and priced it for unlimited use for a full year at less than a super off peak return train ticket from Penzance to Inverness. We think that's great value.
What problems did you come across at the start when setting up the company and how did you overcome them? The only challenge at the outset was finding the right people to build the web platform for us. We could draw the diagrams of what we wanted, but had to rely completely on the outsourced coders to put our vision into reality. We agreed a fixed fee for the build, and payment terms that meant the vast majority of the work had to be completed before we paid. Then we set a drop dead day when the platform had to be available for full use, as being the first day of a trade show, with financial penalties if it was not. In that way we ensured delivery, to our satisfaction. We also tied the developers into a level of performance so that if all didn't work as it should we would have recourse against them to put it right.
What was the best advice given to you? The best advice we received was as important then as it is now. 'Watch every penny spent." It is so easy at the outset of a business to believe income will flow in faster than anticipated, and costs will flow out slower. It is always the other way round. We took the advice and stick to it now. The advice which we now take, but didn't at the outset, is, 'Ask your potential market what they think, and listen to the responses'.
My three top tips for starting a business like JournoLink are: - Get together a team who share the passion to make the business succeed. - Make the business 'look' successful...get a good address, and really professional web site. - Watch every penny.
What's the future for JournoLink? The future is exciting. We have a platform that fundamentally works, with 3000 businesses on it. The available market size is over 5 million. To optimise our penetration into this we will need a material marketing strategy. We currently have a good portfolio of client partnerships through which we can access a large number of the businesses, but a strategic equity partner is likely to be needed at some stage to get the business to the size and level it can be.
Written by: Peter Ibbetson, Company Director
As one of the co-founders of JournoLink PR, Peter is passionate about giving small businesses a voice in the press by providing them with the support and advice to do just that.