ASTRSK PR Announces Fifth Annual Pro Bono Public Relations Search

by | Jan 31, 2022

ASTRSK PR, a leading boutique independent public relations agency, today announced the search for its Fifth Annual Pro Bono Public Relations Client. The search is open to early-stage consumer-facing startups with less than $1.5 million in funding, that are BIPOC, AAPI, LGBTQIA+ and/or female-founded. The panel selected winner of the contest receives one year of public relations support from the full team at ASTRSK PR, valued over $200,000.

ASTRSK PR, founded in 2012, likes to do things differently. Standing by the motto ‘Be Weird,’ the agency believes in helping brands embrace their rebellious side through non-traditional PR – by working with progressive thinkers who bring a fresh perspective to communications, ASTRSK PR is known for helping innovative brands break through the noise. Over almost the past decade, ASTRSK has too often seen brands founded by, or that support underrepresented communities not receive the recognition or coverage from press, funding and brand awareness they deserve. ASTRSK’s annual pro bono contest was created as a response to support diverse entrepreneurs who also believe in forging their own way – a step, although small, in the right direction.

Applications are now open for the opportunity to receive one full year of free public relations services from ASTRSK’s team of professionals. Qualifying founders interested in entering can apply here – applications open January 24, 2022 at 12:01AM EST & close February 18, 2022 at 11:59PM EST.

To qualify for consideration applicants must meet one or more of the following;

  • Founded by a woman and/or a BIPOC, AAPI, LGBTQIA+ person
  • An ‘early stage’ startup that has not raised more than $1.5M in funding
  • A consumer facing brand (sorry no B2B solutions or offerings)

Winners are selected by a panel of journalists, industry experts and the ASTRSK team, current judges who will advising on this years finalists include; Marlon Nichols, Founding Managing Partner MaC Venture Capital, Shante Cosmé, Editor-in-Chief, Mic, and Hannah Rimm, Editor, Refinery29.

“When we look at incoming clients and the startups that are getting funded, there are noticeably less female, LGBTQ+ and BIPOC/AAPI founders,” says Elliot Tomaeno, Founder and CEO of ASTRSK. “It’s our hope that in conducting a pro-bono search aimed directly at these underrepresented groups, that we can do our part to help level the playing field. Our entire team looks forward to collaborating on our pro-bono client and bringing well-deserved media attention to a company that might not have a budget for PR yet.”

Throughout 2021, ASTRSK dedicated PR services to trans-owned and founded Both& Apparel –a sustainable and ethically designed clothing brand creating garments for transmasculine, GNC-identified and non-binary humans. Taking a community-centered approach to design, Both& provides high-end, evidence based designs to a world devoid of gender affirming clothing.

“Winning ASTRSK’s pro-bono representation for 2021 was important in a number of ways. We entered the competition in December 2020, when we had just begun but didn’t yet have a product to sell. Their belief in us early on was an important signal that we were on to something, and that velocity helped carry us through the hurdles of launching during a global pandemic,” said Finnegan Shepard (he, him) Founder and CEO of Both&. “They were able to secure us great coverage which positioned us nicely to raise our first round of funding. Most importantly, it’s been a pleasure working with the team–all incredibly bright, kind, and supportive people.”

Previous winners of ASTRSK’s Pro Bono Public Relations Contest include;

  • 2019: Stix, a female-founded healthcare company co-founded by Jamie Norwood and Cynthia Plotch that provides women with the products, education and support they need throughout their health journeys.
  • 2018: Juicebox a 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.
  • 2017: Beam Impact, a financial app on a mission to direct $10 billion in funding to high-impact nonprofits by allowing consumers to direct and track donations through purchases with Beam partners.


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.

Bulldog Reporter
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