November 24, 2008

What a Tool.

Posted in A walk on the "dark side", Industry Standards tagged at 2:58 pm by R

We all rely on the help of well-developed resources as PR peeps, but a post by Dan Wool at Valley PR Blog really got me thinking:

In a world of customization and consideration, how are media resources and reference data bases helping us do our jobs better?

I have used several resources who tout one of their benefits as “distribution.” This means plugging in the info, and hitting send. Not ideal for getting a reporter’s attention. Not ideal for getting coverage. Not ideal for making a good name for yourself as a considerate PR pro.

Services like Bacon’s (Cision), Burrelle’s Luce, Vocus, PR Newswire, etc. would do well to tailor their services to the rapidly changing needs of PR people and reporters.

Things I’d really like to see all of these services offer to compete for my business (may the best man win):

  • Reporter contacts updated DAILY and checked for contact information accuracy
  • Full accounting of recent articles for each reporter/producer
  • BLOGS: contacts, content and RSS feed
  • Up-to-date editorial calendars (It’s the end of November. Really? Really? There’s nothing out for 2009? I call bull S*&%.)
  • Reporter query portals (HARO is superior to all others at this service presently. Why? They specialize and do it well.)
  • News alerts. Google does it (and everything else), why can’t Burrelle’s cross check between news coming out and reporters in my stored media list? Am I asking for the moon here?

The bottom line is that in a lot of ways I don’t feel like the PR services industry has caught up to what we as practitioners are adapting to.

Maybe it’s the case that I’m not using the “best” search terms but nothing, NOTHING is as frustrating as searching for a known broadcaster or heck an entire network (!!) and getting the old “search returned no results.”

In fact, this is sort of what I look like when that happens.


Long story longer: PR Tools, get up to speed. I’ve got a job to do here and I need help to do it well.




  1. You Got That Right said,

    You write exacly what I was thinking. Doing some research for my new budget year turned up equally disappointing results!

  2. […] I read Robyn Itule’s brilliant rant on her blogabout how useless media databases like Cision and Vocus are in terms of getting a journalist’s […]

  3. Dan Wool said,

    Great post.

    My recommendation is to go back to basics — go to the newsstand — either physically or online (Google, Technorati) to create a base target list. It takes a lot longer — but not that much — and pays off for you in the end.

    Meanwhile, it’s free, unlike these “services”.

    Remember that Cision, etc. books were created pre-Internet when the proper information was much harder to get. They have done well to adapt as well as could be expected but the concept hasn’t changed. Every PR person must do their homework (due diligence). Every battle is won before it is fought.

    The database list is never THE list – a good target list takes superior strategic judgement from the PR practitioner.

  4. Sorry to hear about your frustrations, Robyn. I am the Director of Media Research at Cision. Our research content helps guide our clients to the right outlets and contacts. We don’t encourage our clients to send the same pitch to 100s of contacts, but instead to use our data to contact journalists with relevent materials in the way that they want to be contacted.

    You have some excellent suggestions in this post. While Cision has already added over 150,000 editorial calendar opportunities for 2009, makes thousands of changes every day that go to our product lines and lists thousands of blogs that are relevent to PR people, there are a few items on your wish list that we haven’t been able to offer yet. We are working on offering the latest article links for every contact and always welcome suggestions on how our services could be more useful to our clients.

    The changing media landscape is definitely shaking up the PR world and we hope to assist our clients in learning about that new landscape through training, white papers, webinars, conference engagements, our blog and by practicing what we preach.

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