Hi Avi. Please introduce yourself and your role at Press Notify…
I’m a web developer. I’ve built a web application and Press Notify was just a side project - an internal tool that just push live in order to allow others to use it. I’ve launched a bunch of other products as well. Some with a great deal of success, and not successful, but my main objective and my main passion is just to launch different types of web projects that provide value to users, that are free of charge.
The developer that worked on Press Notify with me is Ken Rhen. It would be good to give him a shout out for being an awesome developer.
How would you describe Press Notify?
It’s just a simple but incredibly useful tool as you found out yourself. It’s not designed to be a comprehensive list of journalists, instead it helps you to contact to the leading publications in a format they want.
We have about a hundred publications on there. It’s not individual journalists, but the tip inboxes for the media outlets.
"I think the best way [to describe it] is it's a really simple way of filling in the blanks and pitching your story to for the leading journalists."
Do you know how many people have used it over the years?
Press Notify has helped a few thousand people to get free PR.
It’s not a product that has been actively marketed or promoted. It was really just built for our own internal use and then we just pushed it live and put a landing page and really haven’t gone full force with it, yet.
Before you built it, what were you doing? Were you doing all that outreach manually or working with a PR agency?
No PR agency. All manual.
It just templatised and automated a manual process… using the traditional spreadsheet and a lot of copying and pasting. The old-fashioned way. Just grassroots homegrown in-house type of deal.
We just used that formula for a bunch of the products that we launched and it worked so we made that formula into a product.
Who would you say your typical user is?
The typical Press Notify user is someone that visits the Product Hunt or Indie Hackers or those types of sites. Folks that are entrepreneurs, that are launching some online business or web-based business or mobile application that is just looking for a free, simple, five-minute hack to get their story out there.
Have you heard of many success stories from customers?
Well, I think you used it with a great deal of success. Is that correct?
That’s right. I stumbled upon Press Notify on Product Hunt a few years ago. I was launching a new project, so I used it speculatively and it was a journalist for the Times who picked up on it, who said, "Okay, just tell me more." And then with that I just got an avalanche of interest from other publications because they had featured it. I think without your help, it wouldn't have landed in his inbox, and he certainly wouldn't have been interested, plus the template that you've got forces people to keep that pitch quite succinct.
Yeah, exactly. It makes me very glad to hear that you were able to get success from it. That’s awesome and congratulations.
Well done for building a product around it and it just shows he was right, it does work.
"The main reason why is that the template was designed by the editor of Tech Crunch."
The Editor once wrote a blog post or posted on social media that they get a lot of pitches and this is the best format to use.
So, he laid out the template and which meant that somebody had to just fill in the blanks.
So, the idea was: If this is the format they want to be pitched in, let’s just make a simple web form that has the fill in the blanks, and that’s it.
That’s exactly what the tool is. It’s nothing more, nothing less. It’s just that.
Your premium plan comes with ‘free tips and strategies’, can you tell me more about this?
With the premium plan, myself or somebody on my team will do some handholding and provide guidance as far as what makes a successful strategy and review the letter. It’s an extra bit of human assistance, just to make sure that everything is on point.
How have you got the word out about Press Notify?
Mostly through online communities like Product Hunt and the like and word of mouth. It hasn’t been advertised or marketed because it’s not really its own standalone business in a sense.
Have you ever had any objections from the journalists or the publications on the other end?
There were a few that requested to be removed because they were getting too many emails, but at the same time, these email addresses are designed to field tips and new stories. So, in general, there haven’t been any objections.
They welcome it because they’re looking for new stories - new companies to write about, new startups. As long as the pitch is in a clean and easy-to-scan format, it’s been welcomed.
What’s your future plans for the tool?
If anybody that uses it has any suggestions or recommendations on how to improve it, I’m happy to make adjustments. I think the easy thing is to add new emails to the database or maybe make that template a little bit more customizable.
However, it’s not the most actively maintained project. Maybe one day in the future, or maybe we’ll pass it along or sell it or hand it off to somebody that can give it the love and attention that it deserves.
So, if anybody out there would want to make me an offer, feel free to get in touch.
(anybody looking to buy or sell startups so check out Surges’ guide to the best marketplaces to do so)
Apart from Press Notify, what’s your favourite digital marketing tool?
SEMRush and Screaming Frog are the two online marketing tools I use most frequently. SEMRush helps with keyword analysis and to gauge demand for different terms and phrases. Screaming Frog is great for crawling websites to extract data.
And finally, where can people find out more?