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NAVIGATING THE EVER-CHANGING LANDSCAPE OF PR AND MEDIA RELATIONS

Jered Martin, Co-Founder and COO at OnePitch

In this captivating episode of WYTPOD, our host Harshit engages in a fascinating conversation with Jered Martin, Co-Founder and COO of OnePitch. They delve into OnePitch’s innovative approach to PR outreach, utilizing natural language processing and AI to bridge the gap between PR professionals, brands, and journalists. Jered shares the company’s journey from a two-sided marketplace to a cutting-edge NLP-driven platform, highlighting unique features such as journalist matches, pitch checkers, and a comprehensive media database. OnePitch’s commitment to community marketing and value-driven pricing further underscores its mission to streamline PR and foster meaningful connections. If you’re intrigued by the evolution of PR in the digital age, this episode is a must-listen.

OnePitch is a SaaS solution that helps brands engage with the right journalists who are ready to connect.

Jered Martin
Co-Founder, and COO of OnePitch

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of WYTPOD. My name is Harshit and I’m the Director of Business Alliance of the WYTLabs. We are a digital agency specializing in SaaS and e-commerce SEO. My today’s special guest is Jered Martin, Co-Founder, and COO of OnePitch, a SaaS solution that helps brands engage with the right journalists who are ready to connect. Welcome to you, Jered. I’m so happy to have you with me today.

Harshit. Thanks so much for inviting me to the show. Looking forward to sharing more about OnePitch and answering those tough questions today.

No, I’ll make you sound. Let’s start by at least telling us a bit about your audience, and your background in PR and media industries.

So my background in PR and mainly digital marketing started 10 years ago. Graduated from college, had a degree in communications and marketing, and I set out on a path to become a digital marketer. Slowly but surely, as soon as I got into the workforce, I began to realize that there was a lot more to marketing than just social media and paid ads. And one of the things that eventually came onto my plate was public relations. And I had no idea I was even doing public relations at the time. I thought it was just a marketing thing where I was trying to pitch a speaker and share some thought leadership about them. I don’t even think thought leadership was a word at the time. I think 10 years ago, engagement was like the buzzword, which now is just a household thing. So I’ve had a lot of time to be an observer and be a practitioner. Fast forward, I worked at an agency for about a year or two, then went in a house for a local company, did all the PR marketing comms and operations singlehandedly, and eventually sold that company with my co-founder.

And then we started OnePitch shortly after that in the year 2017. And OnePitch came about from my co-founder. More specifically, she owns and has operated her PR marketing agency for the past 15 years. There were a lot of trials and tribulations, I’ll say, with tools that she and her team were using to find the right media contacts to connect with. Now, most people who know PR understand that media relations, and relationships with journalists, are not the only thing that’s required or that’s part of the job description, but that’s one of the main things. We recognized that again and decided to create OnePitch as a tool that would be simpler and more effective than the competitors in the space, and of course, be more cost-effective. A lot of our competition charges thousands of dollars a month or tens of thousands of dollars a year. We wanted to set out to create something different that would be, again, efficient, cost-effective, and simple to use. And that was the birth of OnePitch. Fast forward a couple of years, and here we are now. We’re very excited about what we built. Yeah, looking forward to sharing with you more about the service and all the things that it can do.

It’s been around, I think, six, seven years since you launched OnePitch. What exactly inspired you to go for OnePitch? Were there any problems that you were trying to solve in the media and the PR space on the ground?

There is a big problem that still exists. We haven’t been able to completely solve it. Nobody else in our space has been able to solve it yet either, and that is the fractured relationship between PR professionals’ brands and journalists. And the main problem that journalists experience is their inbox is inundated with pitches. They get pitches from everybody and anybody. And a lot of times those pitches are mis-targeted and irrelevant for the journalists. So, our goal with OnePitch was to first address the irrelevance and the issue with targeting. And what we’ve done is we’ve built a system around natural language processing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. I love to throw out those buzzwords, but natural language processing is the core of what we do. And we can very simply take text from a PR professional or a brand that could be in the form of a pitch, it could be in the form of a press release, or maybe it’s a boilerplate about a client or a company that they represent. We can run it through our matching algorithm, look through our database of real articles written by journalists, and identify commonalities and similarities between those articles and the pitch itself.

And then the output is a list of matches or a list of recommended journalists who are writing about the same things or similar things that the PR person or brand wants to pitch. Rather than having to guess what they write about or spend hours researching all the articles they’ve written and documenting notes, and that’s just one person, by the way. There are 10-100 people that you need to do this for, it’s a very time-consuming process and there’s a lot of guessing. Again, our service was designed to eliminate that guessing and to provide clear correlations between what you want to pitch and the people who write about that same thing.

Got you. And how exactly One pitch has evolved since then should not get lost? Any lessons that you’ve learned along the way?

Yeah, One pitch has dramatically, I would say, evolved over the past few years. When we launched in 2017, we had a very different service model than what we do today. And at the time, we were looking for product-market fit. We were trying to understand what our customers wanted. We were operating a two-sided marketplace, one side being the publicists, and the other side being the journalists. What we quickly figured out was that the journalists are not bought into wanting to use tools. They may have other tools that they rely on for their reporting purposes or that help them to look up information related to sources. But with OnePitch, it was a very tough market to crack into or to try to get buy-in from. So in 2020, we changed our service model to what I mentioned before, where it’s more of natural language processing and machine learning. What we found is there is a much stronger market fit with this type of tool. We have use cases across the board as well. People come to us who don’t have any PR experience, and the service, combined with our content, gives them to learn more about how to do PR, to learn about how to pitch to journalists effectively.

We’ve got our podcast, in which we interview journalists, and they spill the deal, all the details, and they spill the beans about what are their preferences when it comes to being pitched and building relationships with sources and PR professionals. We, of course, have learned many other things along the way, whether it be from an operational perspective or a marketing and sales perspective. So many lessons that it’s hard for me to bring up all of them. But as any good company is or does, we’ve relied on the data at our disposal to understand trends and understand how people are interacting with our service. The other main thing that we put a very large emphasis on, especially at the start of this year, is community. We have a huge community of members, as we call them, or users, as most others would refer to them. And we go to them for feedback. We go to them for recommendations on the product roadmap. We’re pulling them into the content that we’re producing to get them the opportunity to share their insights with our readers and our viewers. And so that community component has been a huge benefit and advantage to us, specifically, again, from a product perspective.

Not to mention, of course, they’re telling all their friends, hey, OnePitch is doing this cool thing. Come check it out. Most recently as well, we’ve launched in-person events. In-person events have been on the back burner with everything that occurred over the past couple of years, and now they’re starting to come back. And so we’re very excited to be hosting in-person events here in the States in most of the major markets, New York, San Francisco, LA. Our goal is to continue to put this emphasis on community, both with our in-person events to get feedback and glean insights about the product which helps shape the roadmap and future iterations. And ultimately to give this community a place. Right now, we’re not seeing anybody else from a vendor perspective putting an emphasis on community. Some organizations do this, but they haven’t innovated much. We’re at the forefront of being this vehicle to help again, bring people together, whether that be through the service, whether it be through our events our content, or our podcast, and all the many things that we’re doing.

Community marketing is something. Just seeing a very small percentage of businesses leverage this particular tactic. I was always curious to learn a bit more because that front helps. I’ve seen some of the big enterprise clients doing it during your off-mic. Are there any specific strategies that you can share around the… I know we’re getting a bit off-topic here, but I would love to learn from you. Any specific strategies or tips that you can share when it comes to community marketing?

Yeah, one really interesting campaign that we ran earlier this year when we launched our paid subscription. We tapped into our community and we identified a very large group of micro influencers. Now, some of them fit the typical influencer Mold. They have follower accounts and they’ve got good engagement on social and they have a presence that people are aware of. What we also tapped into were more of what we would consider internal influencers or influencer insiders. Now, these were folks that are at agencies, whether they be small to medium size or even large size. We worked with them to share about our launch and the new things we were doing from a product perspective. And we also wanted to get their buy-in to help spread the word. And thankfully, we were able to get quite a number of people interested. The campaign ended up resulting in about 40 additional referrals for us outside of just the people who signed up whom we contacted. Thousands of impressions on social platforms, and hundreds of engagement points across those as well. But again, what it showed us is that the PR community, however vast it may seem, is a tight-knit group.

And being the folks that are essentially in charge of the reputation of their clients, they understand very well what it means to have some sort of influence, but also to say, hey, look, here’s something new. We think it’s cool. We think it’s effective, and we recommend you to try it. So that was a really big and successful campaign for us, and we know that there’s plenty more we can do with this group. As I said, in-person events are the main thing we’re doing. And to my point before, nobody’s focusing on those types of things right now. So we have a blank slate, an open canvas, so to speak, of being able to say, hey, we’re going to host something in your community, or we’re trying to plan a little bit so people have time to prepare for that. For example, we’re hosting an event in New York at the end of October. We started outreach about a week or two ago, and I think we have close to about 75 people who are already confirmed and want to attend. So for us, it’s awesome to hear that. And again, we’re very excited just to continue all these other things that we have planned for the community next year, which I can’t share just yet.

They’re still in the brainstorming and discussion phases. But I think, again, we’re realizing the importance of community, we’re realizing they want to be involved, and so we’re going to double down our efforts there starting next year.

Got you. Can you tell me a bit more about the core USPs of the platform? I understand that it’s a phase one and journalist match, again, is one of the key cool features. Is there any other thing that sets you apart from the competition on the app?

There are a couple of unique services that we have that others don’t. Again, you mentioned the journalist matches that are at the forefront of what we do. We do offer what’s called a match score and an activity score, and those are calculated again based on the journalist. So the match score, we look at all their articles, we aggregate a percentage of relevancy from those articles to the pitch, and we provide a number which says this person writes a lot about these same things and they have a higher score than this other person who maybe has only written about it once or twice. The activity score relates to how frequently the journalist publishes. That’s always a good expectation for somebody who’s pitching. If I see that someone has a score of 80 or 90 %, it’s safe to assume they’re publishing frequently, right? Once, maybe even twice every couple of days versus somebody who’s at one % and may just be a contributor who happens to get lucky and get an article published on a publication. So outside of those data points, we also have what’s called our pitch checker and our email checker. These are checklists that we’ve created in tandem with our community of both publicists and journalists.

And it’s almost like a Grammarly, if you will, except it’s not looking at how you spell the word or if you’re using proper grammar. What it’s looking at is, does the structure of your pitch fits what a journalist is looking for. Does the subject line provide enough context for the written information that you’re going to share with them in the body of the message? It goes down to, again, are you using unique sentences? Are you making sure that you’ve included a hyperlink in your email that goes out to the journalist? Are you not being overly promotional or are you just spamming somebody with the information that you’re sharing? So these tools, again, really aid the newer or younger professionals. But we’ve even had veteran PR professionals and seasoned pros come to us and say, hey, these have been super helpful because this has gotten me to retailor my pitch in a way that I feel like it makes more sense and I’m getting results from that. The other thing I would say that’s somewhat unique that we do is we provide the ability to send information through the platform, and we help to track opens, clicks, and responses.

Now, there are lots of plugins that can do this, but being able to have the tracking and the correspondence and your pitches and your media lists all in one place is extremely important. That’s a piece of feedback we’ve been hearing quite a bit from our community, which is wanting to have an all-in-one solution. So our goal as the next steps on the product roadmap is to build in more of the front of the workflow and the back of the workflow. Right now, OnePitch fits in the middle, the pitching side of things, but there’s this component of monitoring what’s happening in the news, paying attention to competitors, or to specific topics that maybe you want to respond to. And then on the tail end of things, hey, I’ve got my placement secured. My interview is now up on the website with the journalist that I’ve worked with. Let’s track how that’s performing. How many people have seen it? Did we get click-throughs back to our site? Did it help us achieve our goals and give us some ROI on our investment? So that’s the future evolution. I would say those are not groundbreaking things.

There are plenty of other companies that are doing those. But again, packaging that and making it all very easy to use is something that we always put a lot of emphasis on. And a lot of times we hear from our current customers or our members that the tools that are out there, have all these bells and whistles, but they are extremely confusing. They are not easy to use, or people just don’t want them, and yet they’re stuck paying a bunch of money for them. Yeah, like I said, we’re excited to build, but we also know that we’ve got to make sure we build in a way that’s user-friendly and very simple.

I do agree. Monitoring and analytics are part of things, from a business point of view, and anybody serious about PR would want to see the outcome in the ROI and all those aspects of it. Plus, I think when you do that monitoring and those are covered multiple things around it, like sentiment analysis and a lot of more things that even help with the other vertical within the organization itself. For example, customer success can look into the things people are talking about their brand and intervene and stuff like that. There are a lot of possibilities plus when you expand your interpretation, the scope of business also expands, but they’re just.

Definitely yeah Hopefully, we recognize there’s probably going to be some changes in our pricing as a result of that. But our goal is still to be, again, the most simple and the most affordable tool in the market for freelancers and small boutique shops up to larger agencies and enterprise-level clients.

I agree. Also, general stuff. Willing to chat with you on this track, because I’ve seen a lot of similar software, similar as in the PRs, media space, or even in the influencers space altogether. I’ve seen markets in themselves as one of the biggest databases or say, influencers or journalists or anything along those lines.

In.

Your experience, is it something that even you do, or as a pitch that doesn’t work does it work? Is it a big factor for the brands? I know.

It’s an important component for sure. I know a lot of buyers or users, if you will, look for what is in a company’s database. What type of coverage do you have? Are there various verticals aside from print and digital news media? Do you have podcasts or influencers? I think it is extremely important. Now, we don’t do a lot of promotion of our database, and maybe that’s a fault of ours. But we have spent a lot of time building a very accurate and up-to-date database, and those are arguably the two most important components that people look for. Do you have accurate information and is it up to date? And it’s an extremely difficult process to undertake. One of the reasons is that turnover and journalism are at an all-time high. Newsrooms are closing, budgets are getting cut, and journalists are moving from different publications sometimes more than once within a year. We have a pretty large team that is dedicated to managing and maintaining our database. And I think what is unique to our database that may be not unique to others is the fact that we have focused primarily on one geographic location, specifically North America.

And we have focused from the top down. So when I say top, there’s a term called top tier. And that’s like your Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post. I can go through all the names. We’ve focused primarily on getting everything that’s in the top echelon from a national perspective down to a local and regional perspective along with the major trade publications. And that has been our primary focus. And it’s when I can summarize all of that, the thing that I always tell people that I talk to, it’s legit news media. We are not working with freelancers who want to promote your beauty products. We are not working with mommy blogs or travel blogs that may have a low DA, DR, and a low readership. We are working with legit publications, and real news media that have a high DA, a high DR, have a very high readership on a daily, monthly, yearly basis, whatever you want to call it. But that’s been our primary focus. So we’re not here to say, Oh, we’ve got X amount of people, because it’s not so much about the quantity. For us, it’s really about the quality.

And that’s what’s again been a huge component, been a huge focus for our team. Eventually, we will extend our database beyond just the US or the North American market. We’ve already started to enter into the UK market. And eventually, we will also go beyond news media. I think our goal is to not derail too far from that. On our roadmap, we plan to incorporate more broadcast journalism and potentially podcasts. But I think that’s probably where we’re going to draw the line. And again, throughout that, our goals and our ambitions are going to stay the same. We want to focus on quality, not on quantity.

You mentioned podcasts and when we talked earlier about community marketing, we wanted to get those to our good engagement areas. I’d love anything else that you’re doing for the customer engagement front altogether and how that is your journey.

Yeah. Our big thing right now with our community is Swag. They are very in love with Swag. We were very excited because we put in some time and effort to build out designs for mugs stickers and T-shirts. I’m drawing a blank on all the other things, but they’re a Swag-motivated community. And that’s great for a couple of reasons. One, because it’s very easy for us to put a logo on a T-shirt and send it off to somebody who signs up and completes a trial for our service. We’re handing these sorts of things out at events as well. For example, for our coffee mugs, everybody who attends, we give them a free one-pitch mug. They get to put their coffee in it, which we buy, by the way, for them at the event, and then they get to go home with the mug. So that’s been the big push for us. And there are other motivational factors. But again, I think it’s cool that they’re responding well to the swag. It’s also great for us because it’s a way for other people to see our brand that isn’t just on a computer screen. And that tends to be where a lot of people are doing a lot of their marketing and sales are you’re on your phone or you’re on your computer and you see an ad or you see a post or something comes up, but it’s very exciting to get something tangible with our name on it out into the public.

And I think that’s one of the exciting things that we’re going to continue to build out and work on over the next few months again as we put more of an emphasis on our community.

Yeah, coming to the latter part. What is the churn rate?

Churn rate? We have learned a lot in the past few months. It’s lower than what we expected, which is great. And we’re again testing the water. As I mentioned, we released our pricing model back in June and we offered all of our community that joined us before that a three-month discount for free to use the service. We’ve seen quite many folks convert into paying members, which is very exciting. We’ve seen others who have decided they don’t want to continue, whether it be for budgetary reasons or maybe because we don’t have all the tools and features that they’re looking for. But from an engagement and an activity perspective, our numbers have steadily grown. They are well above what we saw even last year with a completely free service. So we’re very happy with the progress we’ve made. We know there’s plenty more to do. Our push outside of the community, but more so from a product perspective, is to make sure that we have a very strong and effective onboarding cadence to make sure people know exactly what to expect when they come on. Again, primarily because one pitch is a little different in the way that we get started, and in the way that we deliver results.

And also focusing a lot on retention and part of that is going to be releasing some of these tools that our community has asked for and requested. So we’re looking forward to seeing that and we know we’re not going to be at a churn rate of zero %, that’s just impossible. So our goal is again, just to make sure that we’re refining our messaging, making sure that we’ve got a great onboarding workflow that gets people in and gets them hooked quickly, and building in some of those features that make it sticky and want them to keep coming back time and time again.

I would love to know your pricing strategy because that is something just like you mentioned, you’ve done it recently. Now, from this conversation what I understood was that as a company you focus more on quality. Just like we’re discussing about the database. But I look into it first. Anyone who’s focusing more on quality would sell the services or with the services, something. But your standard is making it affordable. Why is that? And what is the thought process behind it all?

It’s a value-driven approach. I mentioned right now, that OnePitch solves that middle-of-the-work problem. When we were putting together our pricing, we did a ton of research looking at our competitors. We did a ton of research just to understand how to structure pricing. And we felt very confident that a value-based pricing model would be most effective for us. Now you could argue that $50 per month is undervaluing what we do, and that was primarily just our entrance into the pricing space or into that next frontier, so to speak. Our goal, again, is to provide something valuable to folks and not have to charge an arm and a leg for it. We recognize that there’s ample opportunity to bring that number up as we continue to add new features and tools, but we think it’s very justifiable for what we offer right now. And it’s showing because people are willing to pay for it. Some of them are willing to subscribe to an annual subscription and not just a monthly one. They’ve bought into the long-term and know the vision that we have. And I think again, just going back to that value, what is the value for one person versus another?

What we’ve identified is people want a quick media list. They don’t want to spend all that time researching. They don’t have as much time as they did before because they’ve got new things on their plate. So for us, we tell people it’s a coffee budget per month, basically two dollars at less than two bucks a day. You’re going to spend more than that on coffee here in the States. For less than two bucks a day, you have a tool that’s going to give you quick results that are going to provide you information that you’re looking for. And again, we feel very confident at the price point we’re at especially knowing that not many people in our space, competitor-wise, are even close to that at this point.

I agree. So, Jered, you mentioned you have two channels that you are doing for you. I would love to know on that front what specific strategies, apart from the community and the podcast and other things that you do. What is the big sound strategy that is the most mind-making when it comes to donating giveaways and anything like that?

Search has been the number one channel for us. And that does involve the podcast. It also involves our blog content. As I mentioned before, a lot of our content does cater to learning how to pitch, learning about the preferences of journalists, and learning from other professionals about examples that they’ve been able to implement and secure wins and successes through. And what we’ve seen as well is that’s what a lot of people are looking for. They’re looking for the answers to these common problems. We’ve spent a lot of time on the editorial side just really building out a very solid structure and a solid campaign. There’s timeliness to that. We know certain times of year are more popular for things than others. Like, for example, we’re entering into the holidays. This is a big time for products and consumers. Business, not so much. Business tends to start at the beginning of the year with conference season with the renewal of budgets and with planning for what’s ahead. So for us, Search has been a huge vehicle. We’ve spent a lot of time optimizing our content. We’ve made sure, of course, that our website was responsive to handle traffic from a computer versus a mobile device.

And secondary to search, the main driver of conversions for us has been referrals as well. People who are sharing with their colleagues, sharing with their network, sharing in the groups that they’re a part of. We do offer a contest every month for folks that share their code to their profile. We give away 100 bucks, we give out a discount, or we also give out a swag pack for interested people. We’re trying to incentivize more of that word of mouth, but it’s one of those things that I think people always say at the end of the day like the best form of advertising is word of mouth. And again, putting that little bit of added emphasis on our community has truly shown and proven to us that those results translate into more of a virality and a networking effect, which ultimately brings, again, more people to one pitch to learn about what we do and then, of course, become a user after that. Got you.

I think we’re coming to an end and I would like to have a quick Rapidfire with you. Are you ready for that?

Let’s do it. I’m ready.

Okay. What was your last Search?

Oh, Jeez. I was looking up a coffee shop in New York.

What has been your favorite age so far?

Thirty-three. I’m 34. I got married last year. It was a lot of personal highs for me. Not so much on the professional side, but yeah, 33 of the trays, as I call it, was a good year.

What’s your hidden talent?

Oh, wow. Recall. I have a very strong memory and I can recall things that most people look at me and give me an upside-down smiley face like, How the heck did you do that?

What are the things to make you laugh?

Oh, my gosh. I laugh at a lot of things, honestly. It’s hard to say one thing. Even right now I’m laughing because I’m a little bit nervous or uncomfortable. I think a lot of things make me laugh. I like to find joy in anything that I’m experiencing or doing, and that ultimately results in a smile on my face.

Thank you so much for all the time. I’ve learned a lot in today’s session and I appreciate your time here. Thank you so much.

No, absolutely. This was an awesome experience. Thank you for having me, Harshit. And looking forward to hopefully getting some good feedback and responses from the folks who are listening today.

Thank you.

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