INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Jonathan Amar, the CEO, and Founder of SourceList, tells us how his NewsTech startup is out to disrupt the $64B global public relations industry
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jonathan Amar: We are all doing well, thank goodness. These are strange times, but we’re managing. Speaking for myself, this has been an excellent time to rethink the “old” ways of doing things and course-correct many aspects of my professional and personal life.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded SourceList
Jonathan Amar: I started my career working in politics, specifically helping congressional campaigns and members of Congress with their communications, messaging, and public perception.
After working for two years in the U.S. House of Representatives, I bounced around to a handful of Washington, D.C.-based PR firms. I then got involved with a home remodeling technology startup and quickly caught the so-called “entrepreneurial bug.” I eventually founded my own public relations consultancy, which led me to my new company, SourceList.
I remember sitting in the SFO airport, while coming home from Thanksgiving, wondering how I could automate key offerings of my consultancy such as connecting clients and their news to journalists and reporters. Having used existing PR tech tools in the past, I realized there was a lack of digital offerings that really focused on making it easier for journalists to locate and book interviews directly with high-quality, reliable, newsworthy people — essentially cutting out the process of needing to coordinate with PR firms.
SourceList was then born out of the idea that journalists should have easy, instant access to the world’s top executives and newsmakers, without those newsmakers having to pay people like me to pitch them to journalists.
How does SourceList innovate?
Jonathan Amar: We believe in keeping ourselves open to new ideas — no matter how big or small. We also believe in being realistic. This has led to measured and highly intentional innovations throughout the company.
SourceList is innovative because we are reconfiguring the relationship between journalists and news sources. Traditionally, news sources need to hire PR firms to pitch them to journalists, who then sift through hundreds of pitches per day as they seek out trending topics, announcements, and experts. Once journalists find a pitch they like, they coordinate with the PR firm to book an interview with the news source.
With our forthcoming platform, journalists will instead be able to search for an expert, verified sources by industry, years of experience, location, and more, and coordinate interviews with them directly, essentially cutting out the middle man. This saves them time and allows them to book sources quickly so they can file more stories.
Our community of sources is reserved only for the world’s top newsmakers, so we aim to offer journalists quality sources over quantity. This is good for sources who choose to join our community because the smaller source pool ensures a higher likelihood of them getting booked for interviews.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?
Jonathan Amar: The pandemic has given us time to build a better product and to dig deeper into the customer journey. More importantly, it’s given us time to focus on our values. It’s been a good thing for the future of the company.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jonathan Amar: A key member of my team resigned while we were about three months into the pandemic. Thankfully, and almost serendipitously, I met a new partner about a month later. Our values are more aligned, and I think what I learned is to strive for patience and to trust the entrepreneurial journey.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and SourceList in the future?
Jonathan Amar: I like to spend time outdoors, especially by a body of water; being in nature helps me relax and put things into perspective. When thinking about my future self, and the future of SourceList, I try to retarget my focus on the here and now. I like thinking about how my and my company’s present-day actions could impact future outcomes. Doing so helps me make better, more informed decisions.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jonathan Amar: Our three perceived competitors are Cision, Muck Rack, and Qwoted. We plan on being competitive by offering unmatched quality and user experience.
Your final thoughts
Jonathan Amar: To all my fellow entrepreneurs and creatives out there: keep on moving!
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