So, what happened with the idea I described in this post?
We launched PRDuck a couple of months later. Here´s a long overdue update on how things have worked out so far.
The idea behind PRDuck
The platform was designed to be useful for two types of users: bloggers and companies. Bloggers can use PRDuck to get new ideas for posts, interesting information about brands they love and free products. Companies can use the platform to speed up outreach and easily coordinate getting product reviews on blogs they select.
How it works for bloggers
After logging in bloggers see an overview of all PR requests, with a subsection of recommended ones. Recommendations are based on what the blogger usually writes about.
Bloggers receive an email notification whenever a request that is relevant to them is published. They respond with a pitch, explaining why their blog is a good fit.
How it works for companies
Bloggers that meet the companies criteria are automatically notified of new requests and can respond by pitching their blog. All pitches are accessible via a single screen. Workrooms to coordinate work with individual bloggers and track progress are available.
Out of all the responses companies are free to select any number of bloggers. There is no minimum or maximum.
After recruiting more than 500 bloggers, we started hunting for clients to test it with. And we found some great ones: a beer company that wanted publicity for a gluten-free beer, handmade designer candles, apps, and we obviously tested the platform with TypeKids.
Blogger response to requests varied. Some products received more than 40 pitches from interested bloggers in the first hour they were live, others just a few in a month. As you´d expect consumer goods did very well and more niche products, such as this awesome app for instructors, received less pitches. But I was happy to see that every request got at least a few responses.
The quality of blogs varied. There were a bunch of blogs that had a horrible design and would clearly publish anything they could get compensation for. We manually reviewed all blogs before approving them, and disabled email notifications for blogs that we thought no brand would want to appear on. This was around 20% of the first 500 blogs. Very popular bloggers did not register for the platform. Apparently the last thing they are looking for is getting pitched even more frequently.
One of the problems we encountered in the beginning was that some bloggers received a product, but never published a post. This percentage significantly dropped after recommending brands to get the bloggers to commit to publishing in writing. No elaborate contract, just a simple “Yes, I will publish a post by date x.” Approximately 30 reviews have been published to date.
The platform works, but customer acquisition costs are high right now. SEM is expensive, and SEO as well as traditional sales require a significant time commitment. We could increase the price we charge brands for using the platform to finance this, but doing so would mean not delivering a price / quality ratio I feel happy with.
Then there is another cost that stops me from spending more time on PRDuck: opportunity cost. Other things take up a lot of my time and are far more important. I am working as responsible for business development at Quaderno. Moreover, the most important project of my life will launch any day now. A project that will want my attention 24/7, cries (hopefully not too much) and needs clean diapers 🙂 These are two factors that have made me decide to put PRDuck on the back burner for now.
Overall, I am happy with having spent the time pursuing this idea. I have learnt new things and quite some reviews have been published so far. Only the reviews we managed to get for TypeKids made it worth building the product.