“Our big mission is to get the best stories and to get them out there, so really it’s all about connecting startups with journalists, not just Irish startups, but startups across the world.”
Belfast entrepreneur and former journalist Lyra Mc Kee set up public relations firm TechFluff and Co in May of this year to cater specifically for the marketing and PR needs of startups, who she felt had not been receiving adequate attention from larger PR companies.
Lyra is determined that TechFluff and Co, which is based in Belfast, and is shortly opening a New York office, will not be just another PR company, “In a lot of ways we’re trying to change the face of the PR industry.”
“The big issue startups have with the traditional PR and marketing agencies is that they’re competing with much bigger clients, and they’re not getting the time. Only the big companies tend to fare well at these big [PR] giants.
“If you go to a PR company and they charge £500 a month, but then they go and get a contract from, say, Tesco, and Tesco is paying them a £10,000 a month retainer, the startup doesn’t get a look in.
“So that’s why we started TechFluff and Co, which was really as a way of using my skills in PR ad journalism exclusively for startups and help them build their brand and PR.”
Having worked in startups in the past, Lyra is aware that many startups cannot afford the services of a PR company, but also that they have great stories that need to be told.
With this in mind, she has set up Techfluff Newswire, @tfnewswire, a news feed designed to put startups in touch with journalists, a service which will help both disciplines. The startups get much-needed exposure, while journalists get access to interesting stories, which might otherwise go untold.
“I’ve always been of the belief that great stories should be told, and that’s really what we want to do with Techfluff Newswire, we want to tell those stories, we want to get them out there”, says Lyra.
“If you’re in a startup, it is hard, especially if you don’t have PR or marketing skills. Some of them just have really, really good stories and they just don’t know which journalist to go to to tell the story. For us it’s a way of connecting those stories with the journalists, and then getting the startups exposure.”
A former Sky News Young Journalist of the Year, Lyra has freelanced with Private Eye Magazine, Channel Four, and the BBC, and is aware of the value of a good story. She sees the role of Techfluff Newswire as, “the funnel” for these stories, and views the fact that this is helping journalists at the same time as something which, “can only be a good thing.”
Lyra believes there is a funding problem in the startup ecosystem, which leaves startups in Ireland at a competitive disadvantage compared to their compatriots in Europe and the United States. Often times the marketing budget simply does not exist for these fledgling companies.
While these problems need to be addressed, Lyra maintains that, “in the meantime we’ve got to do other stuff”. In this case, “other stuff”, is promoting startups, from Ireland and abroad, and making sure that their stories get told, while the bigger picture of why they cannot fund their own marketing is hopefully resolved.
For now, Lyra will try to help these startups, “scream and shout in other ways, and Techfluff Newswire is one way we can do that.”