PerkettPR Interview Series: Bambi Francisco, Vator.tv

As proponents of better communication and connection between the PR industry and influencers, PerkettPR will be featuring an ongoing series of interviews with reporters, bloggers, analysts, vendors and social media experts.

We begin with Bambi Francisco, CEO/co-founder of Vator.tv and former syndicated columnist and correspondent covering Internet and emerging technology trends and investments across the public and private sectors for Dow Jones MarketWatch.

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PPR: What are you up to these days since leaving
MarketWatch?

BF: We launched Vator.tv the first week of June and have been
building the platform out aggressively over the last couple of months. As a
social network for anyone launching ideas, connecting with potential partners,
customers, and as an overall resource for innovation, we have seen a lot of
interest from companies that want to submit creative content to us to expose
their ideas, secure funding, network with partners and find employees. We also
have seen some pretty creative pitches from individuals pitching themselves to
try and get a job. There’s also solid interest from big media companies
interested in our content too, so stay tuned for more on that. News has become
a larger component of Vator as well. John Shinal, my former colleague and boss
at Dow Jones MarketWatch, just came on board to head up our newsroom, which
will be different from other newsrooms because our content will consist of a
lot of user-generated submissions and text.

PPR: How is Vator.tv
different than other news sources, blogs, and traditional media? It seems like
Vator is really aiming to be the YouTube of entrepreneurship?

BF: I think that’s
a great analogy. Vator.tv is a social networking platform first. News and
editorial are layered on top of that to create a combined user-generated and professionally-produced
piece. Increasingly, news will be socially produced or in collaboration with
the audience or users. So, a lot of the news that’s created is a combination of
video submissions and our editorial. I think you’ll see a lot of this type of
production over time as social networks alter the media landscape. It’s no
wonder that big media companies want to layer on social networking features
onto their sites. But on Vator, it’s not an add on. It’s the way we create our
news.


Our
tagline in our news section captures it: “Your ideas drive the news.”
We allow the users to present the news to the audience in their own voice.
Traditional journalists have their own spin, and in the case of breaking news,
they typically all sound alike because all they do is reiterate an announcement.
I think our audience/users’ take is just as relevant. We’re not trying to break
news –as I’ve always thought that was a commodity business–but we’ve set up
the platform so users can break their own news by posting their comments on
their pitches. Those pitches are automatically highlighted in our newsroom,
without an editor deciding what to highlight. As a “traditional” journalist, I always had to provide my own spin, if
you will. At Vator, I don’t think we should be the gatekeepers of the news.
That said, we do offer our own analysis and commentary and reporting. Our Vator
Reports is a hybrid news format as we (me and Peter Thiel) take our experience
and blend it with the user content.


Another
differentiator from traditional media is we are really focused on helping the
users and how we can help them get their innovative ideas out there. It’s so
much fun reading what they are doing and how they are connecting with other
people on Vator. We have become a service utility for entrepreneurs.


PPR: How do
you go about finding your news or interesting people to interview? How do you
keep up with the 24/7 news cycle?

BF: I still read
the papers, on and offline, and blogs. And, as always, I get alerted in my
email inbox on Vator. I do look on Vator to see who’s innovating and I pull out
trends based on that. After we decide on a show topic, then we look to see who
on Vator is getting lots of views, most active, highest rated, etc. and we’ll
elevate those companies or individual’s news stories.

PPR: What are
the hottest areas in tech you are currently tracking that are bubbling up on Vator?

BF: Social
networking and niche communities are still very hot. All aspects of media
companies, such as indie production houses, given the accessibility to an
audience these days, and demand for good content from big media companies.
There are a ton of online marketing and advertising companies that are enabling
people to crawl the Web and spot influencers or capture sentiment or buzz across
the blogosphere. There are still a lot of video-sharing sites, video-enabling
and video-delivery companies emerging too.


PPR: What is the
single most useful technology you use every day?

BF: email

PPR: PR executives – helpful or hindering?

BF: Very
helpful. We want to help all their clients get exposure. And, I think the PR
executives see the value in our utility.

PPR: What is
the one piece of advice you would give to the CEO of an emerging tech company
looking to launch today?

BF: Launch on Vator.tv
as it’s a place where new ideas at new companies or establishments can find an
audience. Much like social networks, where people are found through their
relationships– ideas and businesses can be found through relationships as
well. And, that’s what makes our network different. And, If someone is verse
enough with our system, they can see that they can constantly break news about
their company by just posting comments on their pitch. Those comments go directly
to our newsroom. They can really pull some marketing levers and make noise on
the site if they want to. Or, they can be really quiet and only connect with a
few. It’s up to the user.


PPR: What are
your plans for the weekend?

BF: This
weekend? Not sure, I’m taking it a day/weekend at a time. But I always do my
Saturday bike ride.

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