PR Tools That Don’t Rhyme with Focus or Vision

I’ve used products from Vocus, Cision, BurrellesLuce, PRNewswire, BusinessWire and Marketwire in the past, and they’ve all helped me get my work done faster and deliver stronger results for clients. There are also a wide-range of free products out there (HARO comes to mind) that deliver tremendous value to PR pros. Despite the popularity of HARO, I still regularly come across PR pros who’ve never heard of it. This got me thinking… what other PR tools are out there that people have never heard of?

Here are some alternatives I uncovered; let me know if you have any additions to the list:

Media Relations

  • MediaSync: mBLAST just launched a FREE media list service called MediaSync. While its price is reason enough to try it out, MediaSync has some great search features that enable you to determine who your influencers are in a particular market and find outlets and contacts that reach them. MediaSync has a database of more than 500,000 media contacts and 9 million articles and blogs. You can search for contacts or opportunities (including editorial calendars) using a simple search box.
  • NewsBasis – one of the newest players in the market, NewsBasis is targeted at helping journalists improve their targeting of sources. It turns the media relations model on its head. As a source, you can add your profile to the database and position yourself for more interview opportunities.
  • MatchPoint – here’s another start-up trying to approach media targeting in a smart way. MatchPoint lets you paste your pitch into a search box and find journalists who write about what you’re pitching. It’s intended to reduce PR spam and improve targeting accuracy. It’s a great concept and I look forward to seeing this one improve.
  • PressWiki: another FREE directory of media contacts and outlets. PressWiki is designed as a wiki, so everyone shares responsibility for the quality of information in the database. While it’s not as developed as MediaSync, its a great alternative for those with no budget for a media database.
  • HARO – everyone reading this should know about HARO (Help A Reporter Out), but every time I do a list like this, somebody comments with a HARO suggestion. HARO is a FREE service (recently purchased by Vocus) that emails you three times each weekday with information on journalists looking for sources to interview. If you have a source that fits, you reply with the appropriate information. It’s one of the easiest ways to get press. PRNewswire has had a similar service for years called ProfNet, but it’s not free.

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Help A Reporter Out (HARO) Joins Vocus Family

Vocus kicked off its 2010 User’s Conference with a huge announcement of interest to PR professionals and journalists alike: Vocus has acquired Help A Reporter Out (HARO). HARO has built an impressive base of users over the past two years, becoming one of the most popular PR services. HARO’s success is largely due to its foundation as a journalist-friendly PR service.

From day one, HARO founder Peter Shankman (@skydiver) has gone to great lengths to protect journalists from the persistent problem of PR spam – the sending of off-topic pitches to journalists. By being strict about the rules of engagement for pitching journalists through HARO, the service has also become one of the most popular tools used by journalists in the news gathering process.

While I suspect a lot of long-time HARO purists will worry about how the service will change once it becomes part of the Vocus offering, both sides know users don’t want that. According to Peter Shankman, “Nothing will change.” He’s joining the Vocus team and will be working with the company on further extending the value of HARO to users, as part of the Vocus family – while preserving the integrity of HARO, and finding ways to make it even better. [Read more…]

Who Do You Blame for PR Spam? Vocus?

In his recent “Hocus Vocus” post on The Flack, Peter Himler suggested that companies like Vocus contribute to the PR spam. He only singled Vocus out because The New York Times Saul Hansell called the company out as a “prime purveyor of pr spam” on a Media Relations Summit panel Peter moderated. In the post, Peter says, “Pure and simple: the automation of media outreach leads to PR spam.” I agree to a certain extent that technology can be an enabler of PR spam. This would include all the major newswires and media database providers (including Bulldog Reporter, who hosted the Media Relations Summit).

I think this also includes companies like MatchPoint, a Vocus competitor co-developed by Himler, which he discloses in his post. According to Himler, MatchPoint enables PR professionals to find editorially appropriate journalists or bloggers for their story queries. I’m not picking on MatchPoint. I actually like its approach, anti-PR spam positioning, and I think it’s a big step in the right direction for media relations tools. At the same time, it is another attempt to automate media relations processes. Lazy PR people will abuse the system and simply target anyone suggested as a good contact. [Read more…]

Does Your Pitch Suck? Find Out at

your-pitch-sucksWhat do you call a new service that promises to help PR people develop better pitches? I’d struggle to come up with a more sensational, attention-grabbing name than Your Pitch Sucks. The founders of Your Pitch Sucks claim that 98% of press releases are tossed in the trash can after being given less than five seconds of review. They also estimate that companies waste more than $450M each year sending out press releases that end up in a “gigantic black hole.” While I couldn’t find the source for their claims, I have no doubt that the numbers are accurate (actually, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that companies spend a lot more than that on sending out poor-quality releases).

If you’re serious about putting together a solid pitch, the folks at Your Pitch Sucks want to help you out – for a small fee that is. For a small investment of $150 to $200 per pitch, an expert team of PR professionals will evaluate your pitch or press release, providing you with expert notes on how to make your pitch NOT suck. For the extra $50, you get a phone consultation with a PR expert. Heck, they’ll even put together a media list for you, targeting print, broadcast or other outlets for as little as $400. When you consider the price of alternative services, this can be a great deal – especially if you end up with a better pitch that gets noticed by more of those outlets.

Now I haven’t tried out the service, so I’m in no place to endorse or critique their quality one way or the other, but I’ll admit that the concept could be very helpful for those that don’t know how to put together a solid pitch (or those that have had lackluster success pitching the media in the past). The Your Pitch Sucks team claims to have successfully placed news stories in The New York Times, Time, BusinessWeek, and The Washington Post, as well as in major broadcast outlets such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America and The Today Show. With that track record, it couldn’t hurt to give them a shot.

Have you tried the service out? Did it help you get more interest from journalists? Let us know.