New automated PR service offers DIY option for start-ups

Hot Tin Roof founder launches DIY PR machine to make media more accessible to small businesses 

A disruptive new PR firm which challenges the traditional relationship between news source and media has launched in Edinburgh.
PingGo is the brainchild of Sarah Lee, founder of dedicated tech PR agency Hot Tin Roof, whose clients include the likes of FreeAgent, ScotlandIS and Money Dashboard.
Its automated service has been described by Lee as ‘a do-it-yourself PR machine’, which she says has been developed to answer the demand for affordable PR from start-ups and the small business sector.
Lee claims PingGo helps firms keep PR inhouse, create credibility and build reputation through ‘earned’ media coverage.
She says it’s also part of a growing trend for the automation of business services and the use of automated journalism led by Associated Press, Forbes and the LA Times.
Lee said: “My vision is to democratise the PR industry so that lack of budget and experience are not barriers to a company getting media attention. It’s the strength of the story that  should determine whether the media picks up on a story and reports news.
“Media coverage cannot be bought. It has to be earned.  When a company is just starting out it is critical that it establish credibility, but traditional PR is out of reach to most startups.”
The online service offers a number of features including a press release writing tool, a media distribution and messaging service and a planner to schedule news milestones.
It also interviews the user in a series of questions designed to draw out the key information journalists look for. The answers are then put into order of priority and a press release produced for the user to edit and share with colleagues.
PingGo is the result of a 12-month research and development project co-funded by InnovateUK, the UK Government’s innovation agency, which completed in February.
It ‘soft launched’ to an international market on Product Hunt last month and Lee says it has already seen hundreds of companies from more than 50 countries, including the US, Australia, Iceland and Europe, sign up.
Creative Programme Lead Technologist Matt Brown of InnovateUK said: “PingGo really stood out as a great concept that our expert assessors thought would bring a lot of benefits to micro and small companies looking for PR services.
“It’s just the kind of early-stage project that we are looking to co-fund.  PingGo made it through a rigorous selection process designed to identify the most interesting digital media businesses in Edinburgh.”
PingGo will initially operate out of the Hot Tin Roof office, with Lee planning to hire a full team over the next 12 months.
It was designed and built by Glasgow-based digital product studio NEU, which specialises in products designed to disrupt traditional industries.
Grant McLennan of NEU said: “One of the fundamental effects of the internet is the democratisation of information. PingGo super charges that effect by enabling great ideas, from anyone, to reach everybody on the planet.
“PingGo is at the forefront of the seismic change from old world ruled by a few to the new disturbed network of shared citizen power.”