The ways people connect are always changing. That’s especially clear in a technology hub like Austin. With social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn at times geared more toward social than professional interactions, markets are developing for profession-specific communication platforms. And for public relations professionals and reporters, Babbler is the first platform designed for PR pros and media storytellers to connect around their stories.
Like every great new invention, Babbler started with a problem that needed solving. “My sister, co-founder and COO Sarah Azan was a PR professional for eight years,” Babbler co-founder and CEO Hannah Oiknine told Austin.com. “She found it very difficult to stay connected to her growing media contacts network, get answered by reporters who are spammed all day, and do a lot of phone follow-ups. We saw an opportunity to introduce a new technology to help companies and reporters/influencers interact in a better way and to have an alternative to traditional email pitching.”
PR professionals use their network of media professionals to get the word out about what their clients are doing. In Azan’s experience, keeping track of those media professionals meant using Gmail and an Excel spreadsheet. There had to be a better way.
“Traditional PR and press releases are dead. Before internet, PR pros had a small address book of key media contacts. Today, PR pros have to create, entertain, and engage different media communities — bloggers, influencers, print writers, radio, tv, etc. — with different PR content,” Oiknine said.
So here’s how Babbler works. PR pros set up a profile that tells what sorts of stories they have to tell. Then, they’re connected with media professionals who cover those types of stories. PR pros post their press releases, photos, and other materials in Babbler, and media professional can pick up those materials. So with Babbler, PR pros no longer have to send countless customized emails hoping one of their media contacts will run with a story.
Plus, PR pros can set up separate pages for all the different clients they manage. So whether you’re a freelancer or part of an agency, having clients in different business sectors doesn’t negatively effect your ability to target media professionals through Babbler.
And it isn’t just PR professionals who benefit from Babbler. Reporters and other media influencers have their email boxes filled routinely by story pitches they don’t want. A travel blogger doesn’t want or need a press release about a pet store opening. A reporter covering business doesn’t want or need information about a charity gala. And with Babbler, they’re far less likely to get these story pitches that while helpful for some writers are ultimately useless to them. Babbler helps writers hone in on the PR materials they actually want. Once a PR pro connects with a media professional over a story, they can converse through Babbler.
Oiknine and Azan are from France and actually created Babbler in Paris three years ago. Oikine first arrived stateside in New York City, but after one year of contending with NYC’s high cost of living, she put in an application for startup bootcamp Austin Techstars. After being accepted, she and nine other entrepreneurs came together as a cohort to kickstart their startups into high gear.
“The best thing about the Techstars experience is to learn about your business and yourself in such a small amount of time,” Oiknine said. “The network of Techstars is very powerful, and I had the chance to meet with amazing entrepreneurs, CTOs, heads of product, and marketers that are here for free just to help you succeed.”
Oiknine’s husband is a native Texan. They came to SXSW one year and fell in love with Austin. A lower cost of living and a booming tech scene welcomed them to the Lone Star State which made a perfect combination for bringing Babbler to the US. So Austin reeled in another blossoming tech company, and Babbler is revolutionizing how PR pros get their clients’ messages to storytellers.
Featured photo: Babbler co-founders COO Sarah Azan and CEO Hannah Oiknine. Photo courtesy of Babbler.