PRInABox.com: Simon Rayner
Meeting business owners struggling to get their message across during a recession-hit Britain, the serial entrepreneur decided to make PR 'easier'
Tell us what your business does:
PRInABox.com teaches brands how to become influencers by creating their own PR, social media, and marketing campaigns.
The technology helps businesses to understand what to talk about, who to talk to and how to get their message out. In addition, the support subscription means they can get advice and guidance from PR professionals for hundreds, rather than thousands, of pounds.
It’s easy to use, available for all types of industry, and cost effective.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
The inspiration behind PRInABox.com came after I went to a talk given by young entrepreneurs. There was one specific individual that really hit the nail on the head when discussing PR; she said, “Nobody is ever going to talk as passionately about your business as you do.”
This led me to believe that by building a website we could teach people how to do their own PR and get their ideas formulated into a proper plan. PRInABox launched after two long years of researching and planning in May 2016.
Many people have had negative experiences of spending lots of money on PR agencies, without the results they expected. My philosophy is simple – give people the tools and support to do it themselves and it means that suddenly anyone can become an influencer.
How did you know there was a market for it?
100,000,000 new businesses are founded worldwide every year. Of those 10% will make it past the first year and 5.52% are English speaking which leaves us with a potential of 552,000 new businesses every year as potential clients.
When the recession hit the UK we had many brands coming to my PR agency looking for support. Very often they didn’t have the budget to afford an agency so I wanted to create a solution which would mean that anyone can promote their business. I did some research to understand what they were looking for.
Essentially it came down to understanding how to promote themselves and how to find the details of the media. Every business owner (with the exception of two) I spoke to immediately said that this would be a solution they would not only want but would also pay for.
What were you doing before starting up?
I previously worked for Kilpatrick PR and Purple PR, before that I was in the international marketing team at Paramount Pictures and set up Essence Communications in 2003. The agency has steadily grown over the years, not only in size but also in its client offering.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
I have always enjoyed running my own business. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and most of my friends are entrepreneurs. The passion and enthusiasm you get from someone with a great idea is so infectious.
How did you raise the money?
I invested the first £25,000 to build the initial technology myself and I now have a few private individuals investing into the next stage of growth of the technology.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
It’s very simple. Users buy access to the technology where they create their strategy, build media lists and learn how to generate press coverage and social influence. In addition, they buy varying amounts of support from PR professionals.
The prices range from £75 – £225 per month. Considering most PR agencies prices start at £3,000 per month it’s extremely competitive.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Initially I found that when I was out talking to people they got so excited about the product and came to the site and signed up.
What we struggled with in the beginning was when people visited the site cold, they didn’t seem to go on the journey we had expected. They weren’t registering to build a strategy because they didn’t understand what it was.
We have now overcome this by giving people the chance to access all aspects of the site without registering, they can get 48 hours free access and we also provide a call back and webinar service to show people how the technology will help them.
What was your first big breakthrough?
When the first person paid for the service.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
It always takes longer than you expect. Not everything has to be perfect when you launch because your customers will tell you what they need and use. Ask your customers questions and always be prepared to shift how you do things.
Just because you think something will be of interest to a customer, doesn’t mean it will be. Listen, listen listen.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
I would love for PR In A Box to be available in all languages and to be a major media resource. We are constantly adding to the site. The next step is to have a media centre where press can come and search for brands, images and info without having to go to 100 different sites.
If I can make PR easier for brands and the press, then I'm a happy camper!