BY: SULLY AKBARI
When it comes to picking up the morning paper in the Greater Toronto Area, there are many highly-established news outlets around the city.
News outlets such as the Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun, National Post, and The Globe and Mail feed the city with news on a day-to-day basis. Each of these news outlets have their own online app, and with online news becoming a norm, readers can simply get their news from a phone, tablet, or computer. This makes it convenient for readers to get their news in multiple ways. Still, young people aren’t turning to traditional news outlets as much as they used to. This is where Pressed News comes in.
Pressed News is a subscription-based, digital media news outlet that sends out a daily newsletter that makes the news easy to understand. The founder is Jacqueline Leung, who started Pressed News back in May of 2016, and launched the company in September of that year.
“There is a generation of young professionals who aren’t following the news, and it’s not because they’re not interested, it’s because the news is not written or produced in a way that is made for them,” says Leung.
She and her team aim to package their news more like a conversation so it makes it easier for readers.
“Our tone of voice is what makes us unique. We write as if we talk to our friends, so when you’re reading Pressed News, we anticipate questions and have the answer in the news story.”
Julian Colalillo is a Pressed News subscriber and noticed a big difference from what he would read in the regular newspapers to what he reads in Pressed News.
“What I noticed is how it’s super easy to read because it is condensed in a way to know enough without reading a lot,” Colalillo says. “It’s written out like a conversation so you know enough to get yourself into a conversation with someone about the news.”
Colalillo adds that Pressed News kept him in touch with news happening around the world while he was traveling abroad.
“Every morning I would wake up and have a Pressed newsletter waiting for me,” he says. “I would read that every single morning and it kept me up-to-date with everything that was happening in the world and back home.”
With Pressed News still in the start-up stage, Colalillo says there is room for improvement, such as making the site more engaging for readers.
Marvin Ryder, a marketing and entrepreneurship professor at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University describes a start-up business as “in essence where there was never a business of any sort before.”
Although there are news outlets that were established before Pressed News, it is one of a kind in presenting news in a more conversational style.
“In today’s world, if an entrepreneur wants to start a business, they’ve got to really offer something better than what already exists,” Ryder says.
“Knowing what an entrepreneur is branding in all aspects is important because it will create a well-rounded business.”
Since Pressed News puts emphasis on tone of voice, they must stay focused on their brand by making sure their conversational style tone of voice is used every time they write their news pieces.
Entrepreneurs also must be aware of who they are targeting, Ryder says.
“Before creating a start-up, an entrepreneur must know who their target audience is. That way the entrepreneur can get to know them as well as they possibly can. Knowing that will have the same consumers keep coming back to the business.”
Pressed News is targeting students and young professionals who feel traditional newspapers are old-school.
Leung’s journey first revolved around multiple jobs in the digital media and marketing fields she had before starting Pressed News. Always intrigued by mass media, Leung first started out in the media field graduating with a bachelor of arts in media and information from the University of Western Ontario. She went on to work at Loblaw’s as a marketing specialist, and then later went to work for Rogers Media and Sportsnet. She describes herself as always being in the media space.
“Knowing what an entrepreneur is branding in all aspects is important because it will create a well-rounded business,” Ryder says.
Since Pressed News emphases on their tone of voice, they must not get carried away by just writing out news pieces as it is. They must stay focused on their brand by making sure their conversation style tone of voice is used every time they write their news pieces.
Entrepreneurs also must be aware of who they are targeting.
“Before creating a start-up, an entrepreneur must know who their target audience is, that way the entrepreneur can get to know them as well as they possibly can,” Ryder says. “Knowing that will have the same consumers keep coming back to the business.”
More times than not, readers are left with more questions than answers because of the language news is written. This is mainly because of who is reading it, and for Pressed News, the audience being targeted are students and young professionals who feel traditional newspapers are old-school. Leung had that vision all along and wanted to change that in midst of a career change.
Leung’s journey first revolved around the multiple different jobs in the digital media and marketing fields she had before starting up Pressed News. Always intrigued in mass media, Leung’s journey into the ‘real world’ first started out in the media field as she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Information from the University of Western Ontario. She went on to work at Loblaw’s as a marketing specialist but later went to work for Rogers Media, then Sportsnet. She describes herself as always being in the ‘media space’.
After working in the digital field for quite some time, Leung says it didn’t feel the way she thought it was supposed to feel when you get that dream job. That led her to start Pressed News because she was always inspired to create her own brand.
“When I did the soft-launch of Pressed back in May, I was doing both jobs, so I was working 9 to 5, often much longer hours than that,” she said. “It was like I’d go to work and then come home, then I would write stories, and I’d wake up at 5:00 a.m. to edit, then go back to work.”
While she was handling both jobs at once, Leung was working 19 to 20 hours a day, making it unstainable for her to keep going, so it got to a point where she had to make an emotional decision in resigning from Rogers.
“It was really, really, hard. There was a lot of tears and a lot of sleepless nights but I knew I had to take a chance on Pressed.”
The decision in leaving her job was bitter-sweet for Leung because Pressed News was getting great feedback, monthly growth in subscribers, and press coverage from Narcity, Notable Life, Pinkfolio, Shold Media Group, and more. Now, Leung’s focus is to build on Pressed News and getting used to the ‘start-up life’.
“The start-up consists of learning how to do everything that you don’t know how to do,” she said.
Everything in the start-up life was new to Leung that she had to learn from the moment something happened.
“The start-up world is all about learning as you go, being adaptable as you go, and to take it one day at a time,” Leung said.
Living the start-up life, has its challenges. What gets Leung through the hard times are the loyal Pressed News subscribers.
“Sometimes we get readers email us and say ‘I love what you’re doing,’ for no reason,” Leung says. “We would forward those messages to each other.”
Leung says ‘we’ because her former Managing Editor, Melissa Krikke, gets those messages from Leung.
“I’ve definitely had days where I have been super down and Jacqueline would say ‘why are you feeling down? All these great things are happening,’” says Krikke. “So, we balance out our emotions whenever one of us would be feeling up or down.”
Krikke has her own way of facing the challenging start-up life.
“Lots of coffee and being super determined,” she says.
Krikke started her Pressed journey just as it was being formed. As a student studying journalism, Krikke was intrigued by Leung’s writing as well as Pressed’s mission in making news more conversational.
“I got in touch with Jacqueline through a professor just as Pressed was forming and started out as a writer,” she says. “I really liked Leung’s style in creating a new way of consuming news.”
Krikke was dedicated to Pressed News the moment Leung made her a part of her team. “I got used to the writing style and got close to Jacqueline,” she says. “I believed in what she was doing as well as the product.”
From that point, Leung wanted Krikke as her right hand and offered her the managing editor position.
“When we were creating Pressed News, there was a lot of work…a lot of work to do on my own but above that, I was passionate about Pressed. If you have inspiration and are passionate about something, the start-up could be for you.”
Other than the immense workload Leung faces, not being able to spend time with family and friends, and being sleep-deprived are just some challenges she has to deal with.
According to Startup Canada, an organization that supports small businesses and is the voice of Canadian entrepreneurs, about 85 per cent of small businesses that enter the marketplace survive one full year, 70 per cent survive for two years and 51 per cent survive for five years.
Although this is just survival rate and not success rate, Leung sees promise in her brand.
“I thought Pressed News would grow faster because once you have all these goals and ambitions set, you would think that it would fall into place,” Leung says. “It’s just a matter of waiting for it to happen.”
Leung says there is one character trait that an entrepreneur must have when deciding to form a start-up.
“Being resilient,” she says. “You just have to keep going, even if you don’t know what the next step is.”
Leung and Pressed News continue to keep going and growing the business by visiting colleges and universities to gain more exposure with added subscribers.
Leung continues to grow and experiment on a daily basis to make Pressed News better.
“We can experiment and change with every step we take.”
To learn more about Pressed News and how it all started, click here.