PR Platform For Startups: Q&A with Manminder Kaur Dhillon, Co-Founder of Supernewsroom

Supernewsroom is a one stop centre for curing publicity woes by providing a systematic, comprehensive digital PR platform where  businesses are able to connect with newsmakers in order to get their stories out.

Co-founders of Supernewsroom, Manminder Kaur Dhillon, Chief Executive Officer and her partner in crime – Puspavathy Ramaloo, Chief Strategy Officer and ex senior broadcast journalist for TV3.

Puspa is the winner of 14 journalism awards during her career that spanned over 12 years. Manminder on the other hand, led Intelectasia, their brick and mortar public relations agency to win the Gold Award for Excellence in Public Relations in 2013.

LadyBoss spoke to Manminder on how Supernewsroom works and the common mistakes businesses make.

Q: Tell us more about Supernewsroom.

A: Supernewsroom is Asia’s first DIY digital public relations platform. The platform allows anyone to get media coverage with a single click by reaching out to the right journalist and key influencer.

Through Supernewsroom, subscribers will be able to connect with over 25,000 journalists from across Southeast Asia and send them press releases, media invitations and even pitch a story. Subscribers will then receive notifications in real-time.

Some of the key features include profiles of journalists with their latest articles and social media profiles. This enables the subscribers to better familiarize with the kind of product, services or campaign a particular journalist would entertain in his or her news space before getting in touch with them.

Reaching out to the right journalist is made simpler, with the keyword search option. So, if a startup wants to reach out to a journalist who writes about ‘fintech’, they can easily do so and since you are reaching out to the right journalist, the chances of getting coverage are much higher. We even have included press release, pitching and media invite templates, to make the entire process super-easy. Ultimately, this will increase their chances of getting their stories published.

Supernewsroom is powered with easy to use features where one does not need to be a PR expert to start using. With an integrated email blast tool, sending out press releases, media invites and pitches have never been easier. Supernewsroom also boasts a PR reporting tool known as iReport, where users can download their media relations engagement from start to completion; replete with the list of journalists, read receipts, RSVP rates, news clips and PR value.

Moving forward, we are currently developing a real time media monitoring and analytics tools that will be integrated inside Supernewsroom. Users will be able to track and monitor their mentions across news sites and social media platforms, which will allow them to gain insights such as share of voice, sentiments, reach and more.

Q: Tell us more about your background and how it led you to Supernewsroom.

(L-R) Manminder Kaur Dhillon and Puspavathy Ramaloo – co-founders of Supernewsroom

A: My partner Puspavathy Ramaloo, who is also the Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) of Supernewsroom, is an ex-senior broadcast journalist for TV3. During Puspa’s tenure as a broadcast journalist, she successfully bagged a whopping 14 journalism awards in a career that spanned over 12 years.

I on other hand cofounded Intelectasia together with Puspa back in 2009. Intelectasia is a brick and mortar public relations agency that doubles up as a public relations training firm. In 2013, I steered Intelectasia to winning the Gold Award for Excellence in Public Relations.

When myself and Puspa established Intelectasia, we realised (coming from journalism backgrounds) the need for a comprehensive PR solution. We noticed that there was a dearth of media contacts and we quickly realized that if we could pool in together a mammoth directory of media contacts, it would not only benefit organizations but be a perfect solution for journalists as well, especially since all they have to do is respond to media invites, press releases and story pitches via a single click of a button.

The team behind Supernewsroom

Q: Currently what are your expansion plans for Supernewsroom? Are you looking for funding?

A: Supernewsroom is eyeing to penetrate the Singapore market. We are looking to launch in September and we are confident that Supernewsroom will be well received in Singapore since it is a regional hub for startups. Currently, we have already set foot in Vietnam by tying up with the local partner there and we hope that we will not only be able to expand to the ASEAN market but the Asian market in total, by the next 3 to 5 years to come.

We are lucky to have received the CIP 500 grant (valued at USD 120,000) from Cradle – a start up enabler based in Malaysia. That has really helped us a lot in the early days. We have also been approached by investors. However, our aim is to be open to other strategic partners or media companies looking to acquire a startup such as Supernewsroom as this will accelerate our growth.

With our media RSVP tool, members of the media would only have to click whether they would be covering the event or not.

Q: What were the challenges you faced starting Supernewsroom & how did you overcome the challenges?

A: Tech was a huge issue for us especially since both myself and Puspa did not come from tech backgrounds. However, by committing ourselves to thorough research, we started hiring web developers, IT specialists and web designers to help build and architect Supernewsroom. Since we were bootstrapped, we could only hire freelancers at first.

Aside from our initial tech related issues, we noticed that there was a general lack of awareness about digital PR. Journalists especially, aren’t too accustomed with the concept of Supernewsroom and how it benefits not just our subscribers but them as well!

With the advent of Supernewsroom, they no longer need to be constantly harassed by unnecessary telephone calls from countless organizations bothering them about whether they will be attending their events and campaign launches!

With our media RSVP tool, members of the media would only have to click whether they would be covering the event or not. It’s really as simple as that and they are saved from the tirade of bothersome phone calls.

However, getting the community to understand and grasp the concept of Supernewsroom has been a challenge, undeniably, but we’re also happy to know that so many people from the media have been giving us nods of approval lately. Our team has been constantly engaging with the media and educating them in the process about the progressive features Supernewsroom has to offer.

Q: What are some success stories at Supernewsroom

A: Our happy clients are also testament to our success. The Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society is one such example. Hungry for media coverage for the many campaigns and informative press releases the pharma body wants circulated and make known to the public, Supernewsroom proved itself the perfect platform for their media and publicity chapter to manage their entire PR campaigns from scratch to finish; all in one single hub.

In order for any organization to gain favorable light in the public eye, there must be continuity in brand presence.

Q: What are the common mistakes businesses make at managing their communications?

A: Well for starters, not subscribing to Supernewsroom (Just kidding)!

Firstly, I find that many businesses do not have proper communications plans. Strategy is key! A strategic PR communications plan encompasses specific PR deliverables with the ultimate goal of deriving calculated projections in order to achieve future desirable results.

I also find that heads of companies and businesses more often than not create events on an ad hoc basis with no strategy in place. Memorandum of Understandings (MOU) are signed but there doesn’t seem to be a proper measuring device in place, in terms of data and analytics. A proper PR strategy will require you to calculate the data and ensure that it is results oriented.

Secondly, I find that many businesses are not leveraging on digital platforms. They are still very much traditional in both practice and mindset. With the passage of time, our economies are fueled by disruptive technologies that are tailor made to make our lives and businesses easier and results driven. We are constantly in a race against the clock. Embrace going digital! Give it a try. Otherwise, you will never know what you’re missing out on.

Thirdly, I’ve noticed that businesses are not consistent with their PR and communications related activities. They only see fit to create buzz and explain themselves when a crisis takes place. In order for any organization to gain favorable light in the public eye, there must be continuity in brand presence. A business entity must reach out or at the very least be seen to reach out to the community. This creates a lasting impression and in turn, will generate revenue.

And lastly, data! A good PR campaign must rely on data and analytics. Share of voice, sentiments, reach, impressions are some of the key data that can be used to measure the outcome of a PR campaign – which then can be used as a benchmark for future campaigns.

Q: What is a successful PR campaign to you?

A: A successful PR campaign is one that consists integrated strategies leveraging on traditional and digital PR – which raises the visibility of the campaign. What matters most is consistent messaging via traditional and social media platforms, and key influencers.

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