The Next Big Thing for Totem

Nov 2, 2015 · 4 min read

Back in 2012 at JDI we met with and surveyed more than 100 press, asking them, do you care about press pages? And if so, what makes a great one? Our clients at the firm were always asking us to advise on what their press page should be. Many of them asked us to build them one also, or collaborate with another agency on the same.

Totem started as us at JDI scratching our own itch. Then we launched it publicly. I’m happy to report that today we are powering just over 1,000 press pages, 20% of which upgraded for free to our Pro offering.

We’ve had more than 3K users overall, but companies go out of business, get acquired, etc. Press pages come and go along with the companies they represent, and that’s just fine by us.

Some customer names you might recognize include: Runtastic, App Annie, ASICS, Cerego , Muse, Nginx, Saent, Chaotic Moon, WellnessFX, Beam, Crosschx, Legit, Dash, Bottlenose and more.

Less than 1% of Totem’s user base is JDI clients, though more than 90% of JDI’s clients are Totem customers.

We spent the last year talking to those customers. How happy are they? What can we do better? We were surprised by the answer. Pretty much everyone said: “I honestly love Totem but what would be better would be if you just set it up and kept it updated on my behalf.”

We expected customers to focus their feedback on new features they wanted. It turns out that the functionality they want most is outside of the Totem application itself.

People have a time problem. They know deep down that press pages have more importance than meets the eye because of the influence of the journalists visiting them, but updates and improvements keep getting triaged nonetheless. Those same customers also said that they’d happily pay for the privilege.

We were also told that while Totem was laid out well, it is time for a full front-end design update.

Finally, a lot of people talked about slowly moving PR from push to pull, and I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Totem now has a concierge business model first and foremost.

Customers get a dedicated account rep and a pool of on-call labor behind him or her. We set your hosted press page up, brand it, and keep it updated. You can email us stuff to add or change, and we’ll suggest updates proactively on our own as well.

Totem used to be a free product with a $99 upgrade to Pro. We are getting rid of the free tier. The new Totem is now offered at a flat $29 monthly fee.

We are also adding three big features to Totem beyond the change in both the business and operational models.

We are launching a Follow button.

This is a common idiom online, but for PR we think it can be a Trojan horse. If enough press elect to follow companies’ press pages, we unlock the possibility of an AngeList-style source for news. To start, press will simply get an email when any company they follow makes a big change to their page, adding news, executive team members, blog posts, etc.

These emails will be bundled so that no more than one email per week per company is sent. We hope this creates a passive yet pragmatic way for press to keep up with their beat. If we get enough reaction with this feature, we will invest more in tuning those emails, and/or uniting them online in a stream instead.

Today PR is mostly spammy push. What if journalists could for the first time pull the information they are most interested in?

We have completely redesigned the look and feel of the press page itself.

We have intentionally tried to make the page look a lot like Twitter or Facebook in terms of customizability. We aspire to be one of the few essential corporate profile pages that every company has. We’d love to walk you through the page on a call if you are game, but everything else we changed came at the request of press. Our goal is (to continue) to be the press page that press prefer, and recommend.

Too many companies treat their press page like a trophy case instead of a resource center that makes life easier for someone writing about you. Totem’s redesign is all about making journalist’s lives even better.

We have added the ability to track your Totem page with Google Analytics and other popular tools.

It might seem small, but knowing what pieces of information and which collateral visitors interact with most is invaluable to PR people.

Old customers will have the option of sticking with their old totem page, or upgrading to the new version at a significant discount. So far, everyone has been an enthusiastic “yes.”

We want to say thank you to all of you who have recommended Totem over the years. It means the world to us.

Our goal is to leave PR a markedly better place than we found it. We’re committed to doing that for the long haul. Totem is a big piece of that. Come help us reimagine PR, one step at a time?

Building The Best Press Page

Totem is all about one thing. Great press pages.

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