ASTRSK PR, the New York City-based independent public relations agency, has announced the launch of its Fourth Annual Pro Bono Contest for early-stage consumer-facing startups. Applications are now open toBIPOC, LGBTQ+ and/or woman founders for the opportunity to receive one full year of free public relations services from ASTRSK’s experienced team of creative communications professionals. Qualifying founders interested in entering ASTRSK’s 2020-2021 Pro Bono contest can apply here—applications close November 27, 2020.
Since launching, ASTRSK has been dedicated to making a difference in the communities its employees are a part of and support. The annual Pro Bono Contest was created in an effort to shine a media spotlight on more diverse entrepreneurs and founders—namely women, Black, Indigenous, People of Color and members of the LGBTQ+ community. To qualify for consideration, applicants must be:
- A BIPOC, woman and/or LGBTQ+ founder or co-founder
- An “early stage” company with less than $1.5 million in funding to date
- A consumer-facing startup
Over the past year, ASTRSK has dedicated PR resources to 2019’s Pro Bono Contest winner, Stix, a female-founded healthcare company, providing women with the products, education and support they need throughout their health journeys. In supporting Stix’s co-founders Jamie Norwood and Cynthia Plotch, ASTRSK’s pro bono efforts have expanded brand awareness, positioned Stix as a leader in the female health category, and resulted in dozens of top-tier press hits, with nearly 772 million impressions in publications including Forbes, Shape, Byrdie, Cheddar, and more. During the year-long campaign, ASTRSK further supported the launch of several company announcements, including the launch of Stix’s Ovulation Test kit in February and the company’s $1.3 million seed round in August.
“With COVID-19, economic uncertainty, and challenges that 2020 has thrown at us, we couldn’t ask for a better partner than ASTRSK,” said Cynthia Plotch, Stix co-founder. “For an early-stage startup like Stix, having a well-respected agency at our disposal was something we didn’t think was possible until later stages of the business. However, with ASTRSK’s Pro Bono contest, we’ve been able to really grow demand and increase our user base due to the earned media secured and the word of mouth generated from PR coverage. We can’t thank them enough for being such a great partner in 2020.”
The year prior, 2018’s Pro Bono Contest winner was Juicebox. The female-founded sex tech startup, founded by Brianna Rader, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, offers an app that creates a safe place for direct access to personalized, affordable sex and relationship advice and coaching. ASTRSK’s pro bono efforts throughout the engagement resulted in 67 press hits, reaching more than 750 million readers in publications including Cosmopolitan, The New York Times, Forbes, VentureBeat, and other top-tier media. Following the announcement and launch of Juicebox’s AI chatbot, Slutbot, the company saw its initial user base grow from 320 private beta users to 12,500 users in just one week. In 2019 alone, Juicebox saw a 1,300% increase in website traffic, which they attributed in part to ASTRSK’s impressive media results.
“We want to see more BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and female leaders making headlines,” added Elliot Tomaeno, Founder and CEO of ASTRSK. “Our annual pro bono search is aimed directly at these underrepresented groups with the goal to help level the playing field. Our entire team will be collaborating on our next pro bono winner – bringing well-deserved media attention to a company that might not have a budget for PR yet.”
ASTRSK PR, founded in 2012 by tech PR veteran Elliot Tomaeno, is uniquely qualified to serve the diverse tech startups that will apply to the Pro Bono Contest as its team reflects the same diversity. The agency is noted in the New York City PR scene for its authentic approach and network of relationships within tech and business journalism.