MEDIA & MARKETING | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Sumostory aims to make PR affordable for start-ups

SumoStory packages are priced at $800 and $2,400 for 6 months worth of PR support.

When cash-strapped startups want to run a public relations (PR) strategy to boost their business credibility, they are often caught between two unviable options: Spend $5,000 monthly on a PR agency or assign an untrained intern to do the work.

“We offer a middle-ground solution,” says Chris Chong, founder of SumoStory, a technology-driven PR service that offers the fraction of the cost of a traditional agency retainer fee and delivers a tailored approach to media pitching.

SumoStory uses data science and automation to streamline the pitching process. Through bots, it can scrape data from websites to understand a journalist’s writing history and interests. This data is then fed into the startup’s system to create a list of primary and secondary matches fit for a startup.

“This tailored approach ensures that the content we pitch to journalists is targeted and relevant, which creates more opportunities for media coverage,” says Chong.

But like many startups, bootstrapping can only take SumoStory so far. Chong is in talks with investors to secure additional funding from a seed round, which he explains “will enable us to build sophisticated technology that will automate certain PR processes and expand our suite of services offered to clients.”

Affordability is a key benefit that SumoStory presents. The 28-year-old startup founder in meeting with many startup founders and journalists, discovered a gap in the market for more affordable PR services.

“Most startups complain that there is no viable PR solution for them,” says Chong.
“On one end, there is the expensive PR agency that charges a minimum $5,000 per month with a compulsory retainer that locks clients in.”

“On the other end, the founder usually assigns the PR to an intern as a cheap ad-hoc option, but the intern has no experience in PR and has to learn how to write a press release and mass-email it out to journalists, usually reaping no results.”

SumoStory packages are priced at $800 and $2,400 for 6 months worth of PR support. Costs are cut due to the technology automation, and the different approach the startup takes.

Chong says traditional PR uses the spray-and-pray tactic, which involves sending out press releases at a high volume and gaining short-lived media coverage. SumoStory, meanwhile, leverages on technology to scan the media landscape for targeted press opportunities for clients, including commenting on recent topical issues and trends.

“With our unique matching algorithm, we’re able to offer highly targeted content pitches to journalists in relevant industries,” he says, noting a growing network of partner publications including Singapore Business Review, Tech in Asia, E27, Inc, Bloomberg and CNBC.

Mario Berta, CEO of flexible workspace solutions provider FlySpaces, attests to the effectiveness of SumoStory’s technology-driven PR promotions when they hired its services. It developed a PR strategy that mixes the authenticity and credibility that only a CEO can provide, and the efficiency of SumoStory’s automated platform.

“During my time in Rocket Internet we did engage various ‘traditional’ PR firms and got very poor results. I quickly realized that in the tech business a good CEO is the best PR person in within the company, people like to hear firsthand stories,” he says.

“The CEO still makes the story in a way, and SumoStory does the connection part which for most of the companies is the biggest problem.”

“The benefit is very clear. Traditional PR firms keep you on expensive retainer and do not promise you key performance indicators. SumoStory is a performance-driven PR which in tech, where we analyze everything, is a great breakthrough.”

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