AirPR- Is This the Beginning for PR as a Commodity?Last Friday, when Joe Thornley, Martin Waxman, and I sat down to record Inside PR, Joe asked us if we’d heard of AirPR.

Neither of us had so he walked us through what he knew, while we both frantically clicked links to learn more.

AirPR is a startup that “matches” companies with PR professionals.

Billed as a dating-like site for PR, you input when you want to start your campaign (they recommend three to four weeks before you want media coverage), fill out your name and email address, and answer a questionnaire.

It asks you things such as “how often do you want to communicate with your PR pro?” and at which stage your startup is in.

It also provides a list of services for you to prioritize. Those services include media relations, social media relations, business development/relationship building, communications strategy, and events/trade shows/conference management.

PR as a Commodity?

When Joe asked us both if we would participate in a site like this, our resounding answer was no.

I went off on a tangent about how this commoditizes the work that we do, we’re more than just publicists, and it doesn’t require any messaging, positioning, or strategy. Not to mention, three to four weeks before you launch a new product is not enough time.

It also allows clients to rate your services and share that with other AirPR users. Not unlike references you have to provide with new business prospects. The only difference is you aren’t providing the list of clients for prospects to call.

At most, the startup pays for a 60-day contract. Not something you can make payroll on or count on for cash flow.

Benefit to PR Pros

But, in the past week, I’ve softened my view on it a bit. We’re in the process of building the earned media department at Arment Dietrich and this would be a really interesting tool to use to see if it could help us with business development. If it works, it certainly would provide us some of the resources we need to continue growing.

And the RFP process that most companies require agencies go through? It pushes that aside and provides an opportunity for solopreneurs, freelancers, and boutique firms to compete for big dollars without having to pull their entire teams off client work to complete an RFP.

The company also says if the startup isn’t the right fit, they’ll decline them. And the PR pros? If you have low ratings, they’ll excuse you from the process.

So I think we’ll try it. See what happens. It could be a disaster or it could be genius. I’ll let you know.

UPDATE: July 16. AirPR sent a note to let me know they do not have a rating system, as described above. Rebekah Iliff, their director of product, said:

AirPR does not have a “rating” system per se like an Uber, meaning a two-way rating that other clients would be able to see before they chose a PR pro. Nor would this be like a Yelp, where the information would be public.

At the end of the PR campaign, the client is prompted to fill out a feedback form to provide us with information about their PR experience. This is then shared with the PR pro as 1) a learning tool and 2) info that can be used as a testimonial for future prospecting. It also provides us with ample data so that we can continue to create a better experience and platform for everyone. It’s not public, nor can any other clients see it unless the PR pro decides to share it.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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