VSC engaged HoneyBook in July 2017 with the objective of defining a brand voice and generating visibility in the business press, leading to increased customer sign-ups, validation, and recruiting.
While HoneyBook has a community of small business owners and creative entrepreneurs running their billing and invoicing on its platform, the challenge was to generate media attention for something as seemingly mundane as invoicing.
After digging into HoneyBook, sitting down with the founders, and observing the company culture, VSC saw a bigger vision emerge. We realized the company is in a market leadership position for a class not being represented online or in the media. We realized that the HoneyBook community is a key asset to leverage and pitched the company on the idea of becoming the “Zillow of the Creative Economy” with a data journalism PR program.
Why “Zillow of the Creative Economy?”
Over the past decade, Zillow has earned market credibility and generated media interest by utilizing a team of economists who collect and synthesize real estate pricing trends that, through the distribution of this information, helps lead the U.S. real estate industry.
HoneyBook has similar potential to become a voice in the creative economy for wedding planners, DJs, event producers, and graphic designers, but does so through data and insights.
VSC worked with HoneyBook to institute a data journalism program where several in-house team members surveyed its community and generated insights based on major societal trends.
VSC suggested conducting two separate studies on the gender pay gap and sexual harassment. The pay gap study included data collection and an anonymized analysis of 200,000 invoices processed through the platform and over 3,100 customer surveys. For the sexual harassment study, 1,087 customer surveys were conducted.
Beyond simply reporting on results, VSC worked with HoneyBook to advocate for reducing inequities and delivering tools to help creatives justify higher rates. Additionally, HoneyBook developed a downloadable sexual harassment clause that could be included within freelance legal agreements.
Both reports generated major media coverage and went viral on social media, which resulted in a 44 percent increase in HoneyBook’s user base in just five months.
We generated 17 feature stories on the Gender Pay Gap Report, reaching a combined readership of 52M unique monthly visitors. Media coverage included: Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, Inc., Brit +Co, Mass Appeal, and Bustle.
The sexual harassment report was covered by five top-tier publications reaching 69 million monthly visitors. Coverage included: The New Yorker, Fast Company, Forbes, Fstoppers, and Staffing Industry Analysts.
The pay gap report has been promoted by important influencers like Chelsea Clinton on social media, resulting in a dialogue among women saying things like, “Bookmarking this for the next time someone I don’t know asks me to write something for free.”
The sexual harassment survey left users feeling supported on social media: “We are so proud to be @honeybook … community members because they provide a high end experience for our clients, cultivate a safe space and they align morally + ethically with us. Today they addressed sexual harassment in our industry. Thank you #metoo”.
Here are a couple of our favorite quotes:
‘ Men ask for more money and get it. Women are less likely to ask,’ she [HoneyBook co-founder Shadiah Sigala] says. The next step, she says, is to spread the word on these findings and help educate freelancers and contractors so they don’t sell themselves short.
– Barb Darrow, Fortune
These numbers are alarming not only for the widespread problem they suggest but as an indication of how far outside a basic accountability structure the supposed future of work stands. HoneyBook recommends that freelancers add anti-harassment clauses into their contracts.
– Nathan Heller, The New Yorker
Here are some of the comments from the American Business Awards judges:
Excellent program, leveraging proprietary data sets in a useful way, and showing how PR can contribute to business success (a 44% increase is pretty darned impressive).
Gender pay gap and workplace sexual harassment are important issues. Impressive communication strategy and coverage.
Super smart campaign – great job in connecting to relevant issues/topics for the brand and of course, wonderful results/impact!
Fantastic use of data-driven program and providing value-based results. Solid campaign.
Impressive customer growth and like the use of qualitative feedback in the award entry.