On the up · 13 July 2018

JournoLink: The no-frills PR firm giving a platform to small business

JournoLink co-founders, left to right, Peter Ibbetson, Gemma Guise and Tetteh Kofi.
For small businesses unable to compete with the powerful marketing budgets of larger rivals, effective press coverage might seem unattainable.

Since 2014, JournoLink has been bridging the gap between micro businesses and the media. Passionate about giving entrepreneurs a voice in the press, co-founder Peter Ibbetson helps provide them with the support and advice to build their profile.

Business Advice first met Ibbetson’s co-founder, Gemma Guise, back in 2016 and heard about two exciting years of growth. To see where the company went in the following two years, we sat down with Ibbetson to find out about investment, business heroes and their developing marketing strategy.

Wheredid the concept come from?

I spent several years representing SME banking in the media. Itbecame clear that there were a hugenumber of small businesses with great news’stories, and local success stories. Yet journalists were nothearing of them’simply because the businesses had no affordable and easy way of linking withthem. PR’seemed to be available just to larger businesses with substantialmarketing budgets enabling them toemploy expensive PR Agencies.

The challenge we set ourselves was to create an affordable, easyonline tool to provide small businesseswith the same access to the media asthe larger businesses.

Whatwere some of the biggest challenges you faced when launching?

Financing any new venture is always the first challenge to overcome, but also finding the right people tocommit to the journey. Willing to take alower initial salary for the rewards that a successful startup canbring.

The personal challenge that many founders face is the ability tolisten to others and trust their judgment.Having an idea, and delivering thatidea are two very different things. A founder will never have all the’skillsneeded to achieve the end game, but will frequently struggle to let others takecharge.

What’syour biggest achievement to date?

The small things are often the most satisfying achievements.Receiving an email from a small businessreporting that they had just been onradio 5 with a large company who had paid a fortune to their PRagency, yet allthey had done was to use JournoLink, and by doing so had achieved a brand profilethat theycould only have dreamed of, is hugely satisfying. That is exactlywhat we set out to do.

In terms of the biggest corporate achievement, the JournoLinkachievement will have been no different toother businesses that have been ableto attract external equity investment. In our case winning theconfidence of amajor investor willing to back the business at the three-year stage was a hugevote ofconfidence in what we had created.

Whatmarketing strategies have you used?

The simple answer is not enough. Like many businesses we underspent on marketing at the outset, prioritising budgets towards model build and development. The investment wehave attracted will nowhelp us get the JournoLink name out. Prior to this ourfocus has more been on working with partners, which has been relatively’successful, but we are now moving towards active social and traditional mediacampaigns.

Infive years? time, Ill be?

Physically five years older, mentally five years younger, a minority’shareholder in a business I have beenproud to be part of, the creator ofhealthy bank balances for those who have been a part of the journey, andhopefully still married to my long-suffering wife!

Whoare your business heroes and why?

It is easy to cite business heroes as those who have developed greatmultinational global empires, but thereality for me is that there are fivemillion business heroes in the UK. Those entrepreneurs who havetaken on thechallenge of creating their own future, and in many cases created employmentopportunitiesfor young people.

Creating a business is far from a safe nine tofive environment, with the luxury ofturning off at the weekend, and knowingthat a salary will comfortably find its way into the bank accountevery month.It is a constant drive to beat competitors, win customers, fight to get paidand sweat overwhat seems pointless regulations and paperwork. Yet they perceiverand underpin the wealth for the UK.

Whatadvice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?


 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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