EXCLUSIVE Q & A: SA Startup bridging gap between PR professionals and journalists

Their new user registrations may still be low, but South African startup Like Luci hopes to bridge the gap between PR professionals and journalists through its online communications management platform.

The company hopes it will be a mutually beneficial platform, allowing PR professionals to get publicity for their services or products while providing journalists with content to publish.

Like Luci has just launched the platform, which is designed to streamline journalist’s feature and story requests for industry and brand experts as well as PR and communication practitioners seeking publicity opportunities, while providing an opportunity for media industry players to build and optimise their professional profiles and newsrooms in a non-invasive manner.

Through the Like Luci platform, representatives of the media are encouraged to post upcoming features, publicity leads and requests for expert comment on the site for free.

On the other hand, industry experts, Public Relations (PR) and communication practitioners who register with the site via paid subscription can easily track relevant publicity leads, enabling users to manage deadlines from one central point and have the opportunity to increase their exposure across all mediums – online, print, radio and television.

HumanIPO caught up with Like Luci co-founder, Bernadine Dawson, for a Q & A session to get a glimpse of the platform and the journey so far:

HumanIPO: How did the idea to start Like Luci come about?

Bernadine Dawson: Like Luci came about following my own and that of the person on the other side of the phone’s frustration and time spent trying not only sourcing feature briefs, commonly understood as publicity leads, but tracking deadline dates which can change several times between a feature’s announcement and its eventual publication.

Like Luci assists with the move of features toward a digital age, by providing the function to inform users of PR, editorial and sales deadlines and updates with the click of a button – ultimately helping to connect users with the right people within the right time frame.

What has been the uptake and interest shown by members of the media, both journalists and PR professionals?

The uptake has been positive considering that the online portal only went live last week Monday on September 3 and we initiated our marketing efforts to spread the word as of Tuesday this week on September 11. Thus far, the number of applicants stands as outlined below:

  • Industry experts, Public Relations and communication practitioners – six profiles

  • Publications, journalists and representatives of the media – 17 profiles

This is a positive response having only been open to submissions for eight working days. We are excited to grow the portal at an even faster rate as has been seen over the past couple of days, and not only continue to add South African industry professionals but continue to add those professionals in Africa for a truly connected media industry online.

Could we say then the platform is simply the “digitizing” of an existing PR or media process?

Most definitely. Although the feature process already involves industry professionals emailing a list of requests (feature synopsis for advertorial and editorial leads) to an individualised distribution list of industry professionals, Like Luci’s online platform not only offers an innovative way of extending media’s reach to unsuspecting contributors, but ultimately offers the media industry the ability to update information instantly.

Media requests and synopsis are generally mailed on a weekly, monthly or annual basis – features which do not receive advertising support are likely to be cancelled or moved out, editorial and advertising deadlines change up to several times before a feature’s announcement and its eventual publication. Thus, potential advertising and editorial contributors are not always kept in the loop on such updates, which could sadly result in the loss of opportunities for both parties.

In an industry, which is especially deadline driven, Like Luci is a new form of communication with the ability for media professionals to insert this information into a cleverly designed template that can be easily and instantly updated. This can be effortlessly viewed by public relations and communication professionals who have the option to “add to favourite” – a function that allows a user to keep a handle on all publication deadlines from one central point within the users Like Luci community profile.

As I like to put it – it is the value of two-way communication that helps build mutually beneficial relationships.

Following on that, is it then correct to say it is a portal or community for PR professionals and journalists to have a mutually beneficial relationship (exchange information), whereby journalists get content for publishing and PR professionals receive coverage?

Yes it is a tool designed to save time, assist with the exchange of timely information and not only assist journalist’s gain content, but continue to build a rapport with contributors and advertisers outside their own book of contacts and those across other industries and unsuspecting contributors.

On the other hand, PR and communication practitioners can easily manage deadlines and information updates – thus, saving time and opens up doors to a world of opportunities.

What innovation to this PR Professional / Journalist relationship is offered by Like Luci?

Not only is the platform a new form to cross-pollinate industry information – the platform has been designed to be fully integrated with the options to:

  • Update your contact and profile information

  • Connect with users across borders outside initial distribution lists

  • Access to press releases and Public Relations account managers – to get in touch with, should journos need to probe for additional info

For more information on the Like Luci Communications Management Platform, please visit www.likeluci.com.

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