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I’m delighted to have an exciting announcement to make today. After 12 months of intense planning, MediaHQ is embarking on a major international expansion.
When I took over the company in 2006, the business could hardly have been more different from what it is now.
Back then I had been a longtime customer of what was the Irish Media Contacts Directory, a book which was updated annually. As US entrepreneur Victor Kiam said in that famous advert about the Remington electric razor: “I was so impressed, I bought the company.”
The business had been run successfully for several years by Mike Burns. I bought it with the ambition to grow and develop it. In truth, I had no notion of what was ahead of me. Back then the business was different because it was a traditional print publisher of media information. I had no idea that in time it would change how the PR industry operates.
In the early days, people would come and buy one subscription and, as I soon learned, photocopy the book and hand it out around the office. Libraries would call and ask for their free copy–it’s the law! And for a while, I was left wondering how I was going to make this exciting idea–connecting PR people with journalists–into a dynamic business.
One day I got a call from Paddy Power’s Head of PR, Ken Robertson. Ken was that company’s very first so-called ‘Head of Mischief”. He’s always a very to-the-point type of fellow. He had one question for me:
“When are you going to stop publishing that f#¢king book and do a digital product?”
I stared at the phone after the call ended and pondered what he had said. Paddy Power, then as now, was one of Ireland’s most dynamic companies. Ken knew what he was talking about. It was at that moment I realised the true mission of MediaHQ. It wasn’t to publish paper media directories–it was to help people to make the news. Our clients didn’t care about the format–they just wanted the most up-to-date media information, in the quickest way possible. It was time to take action.
Building the first online version of MediaHQ took just over a year. It was launched in the spring of 2009. Once it went out into the world it pretty quickly passed out the contacts book as a way to keep in touch with the media. If a journalist moved jobs you could reflect that change in an instant, even more valuable, you could build a media list in seconds–all the grunt work was gone.
It’s been quite a journey. In the ten years since we launched, MediaHQ has become the largest provider of media contacts in the Irish market, with a growing workforce. We have gone from dealing with printers and binders to software developers and data scientists.
So, back to today’s news. Last year I reflected on our achievements over the last 10 years. We had grown a profitable software business and become a market leader, during the worst recession of modern times. I had built a skilled team at MediaHQ with media and software knowledge to take on any market. I knew it was time to move onto a larger stage.
In late summer of 2018, we started compiling a media contacts database for the UK. At the heart of the project was a devastatingly simple idea:
“To create the most comprehensive media contacts database covering UK journalists with the simplest and fastest search available.”
To put the challenge in context–the Irish media landscape has 6,000 journalists–the UK has over 60,000. An organisation like the Guardian alone has almost 1,000 people associated with it.
The journey to the UK has been similar to what it was like back to the beginning. We have rebuilt the MediaHQ platform with a new search algorithm based on several key data markers and including dataflows and a newly designed information architecture, making it easier than ever to use.
We will be going live in the middle of October. It has been a really exciting project to lead.
At the heart of this MediaHQ product, we have designed a simple search that allows customers to find any journalist in a matter of seconds and build a media list. In the blink of an eye over 60,000 contacts can be reduced to the 30 contacts you need for your pitch or media release.
It’s really great–and it’ll speed up how media lists are built and journalists are discovered for your lists. If you’d like to have a demo of the UK product–enter your details here and we’ll give you a callback.
Here’s to the next step on the journey. Thanks for your support.