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Sydney startup Prize Pig is making it easier for small businesses to connect with large media players

As a small business owner, public recognition around your products or services in mainstream media can bring along with it many benefits. It not only creates a perception about what you do, the uplift in sales as a result of that perception can catapult a business into multimillion dollar sales figures. Just look at brands like Snuggie, Squatty Potty and Haviana as examples of unknown brands that turned into multimillion dollar companies after riding the wave of free media exposure.

Founded by Amanda Westphal, Sydney based startup Prize Pig is a new platform that aims to make it easier for small businesses to get access to this media exposure without the overheads of the media spend that would usually come with it.

“I’ve been working in the promotion space for my whole career,” says Westphal. “So around 13 years, and I’ve been fortunate enough to develop some incredible relationships with a lot of media outlets that I’m calling on now to support Prize Pig.”

Westphal started off her career as a morning radio announcer and told Startup Daily that she used to get incredibly bored waiting for songs to finish so that she could talk. Eventually, the station transferred her over into a promotions role and she loved it.

“I started out at the radio station and moved on from there to News FM and took a role with Nova as a Promotions Manager,” says Westphal. “I’ve worked on both sides of the fence, first with media. Then I worked at a PR agency for a couple of years and as the NSW Promotions Manager for Universal Music Group for almost four years, so I’ve definitely been in the space for a long enough and all my learnings led me to Prize Pig.”

It is worth noting that in the promotional world, a ‘prize pig’ is the nickname given to an avid media consumer that always enters competitions.

Prize Pig officially launched in January last year. Initially, the business was completely offline and was a very niche PR agency specialising in competitions. However, by October, Westphal says she finally figured out that the future of the company and the answer to scaling the venture was technology.

In the same way an online dating service matches people with one another, Prize Pig’s platform matches small businesses directly to media outlets they can pitch to within two simple clicks. For example, if a company has a great new safety product for bikes they wish to get media exposure for, and a media entity like Channel Ten were looking for prizes to give away and talk about on Studio 10, in line with a segment it was running about bicycle awareness week, that company or product could be booked in and on camera the next day.

Already the platform is seeing some fantastic results with Prize Pig competitions running across media entities such as Channel Ten, Foxtel, MindFood, Mix 104.9, KIIS FM and Southern Cross Austereo Networks. The Kyle and Jackie O show has been a big supporter. A competition is currently running on the show in collaboration with a small business called Bronze Bitch Organic Fake Tan, which only launched a few weeks ago.

The platform has been designed to make life easier, automate processes and save time, for not just consumers (the small businesses) but also PR agencies and media companies.

“I think we’re averaging at about 2 hours a week that we’re saving for our media companies,” says Westphal. “All they need to do is set up the promotions they wish to run and then just get an update when somebody pitches a prize to them. Media companies then just pick “accept” or “deny”, so there’s a nice little buffer for them there to make their life easier. It saves them from having awkward conversations”.

The way Prize Pig makes money is from the small businesses and PR agencies using the platform. For those users, it is a membership site that offers two levels of access: “The Piglet” at $279 per month; and “The Porker” at $549 per month. For media companies, the service is free to use, making it more compelling for them to jump on board and support the cause. Plus, they are also the entity giving thousands of dollars worth of free air-time to the small businesses. Currently, around $750,000 worth of competition space is being made available for Prize Pig users.

Although the business only launched about eight weeks ago, already the platform has just over 110 subscribers and a healthy growing amount of media outlets on board. Of course, building a two-sided marketplace comes with many challenges – including overcoming the chicken and egg conundrum. According to Westphal, the key will be to have as many prize providers as possible. She believes this is what will attract more media companies to use the platform. The other challenge is competition. Essentially Prize Pig is taking on a similar, yet automated, functionality that has usually been fulfilled by PR Agencies that do media give-aways as a secondary service for their clients.

Westphal says that while they may be competitors, public relations and promotions firms actually represent a significant opportunity for the startup.

“If there was ever a really big opportunity for us; it’s PR agencies. I was working with Free Publicity prior to starting this business and doing all of their competitions. However, when I left [to start this venture], they started to run all of their competitions through Prize Pig. So they’ve saved on my wage and pay a small fee on The Pig,” says Westphal.

Targeting these types of firms will therefore be a focus for the startup over the next 12 months.

I would like to partner with many more agencies and I’d like to triple my number of prize providers,” she says. “I’d also like exclusivity with every single media outlet in the country. My goal is to be the only place they’re going to for prizes.”

 Featured image: Founder, Prize Pig, Amanda Westphal | Source: Supplied