Unfortunately, most media databases are expensive, clumsy behemoths that are intended to serve every possible research, distribution and tracking need that a PR professional might have.
For the past nine months, I’ve been intensively using a research product that’s taken another path. IT Database is designed on the premise that a simpler, focused approach will result in a tool that’s easier to use, more intuitive and in the end, more powerful.
IT Database is, as its name implies, built around the needs of information technology (and, a bit more generally, tech) products and services. It is hosted on Amazon Web Services.
In brief, here’s what I like about this media relations research tool:
Integrally Tied to a Journalist’s Body of Work -- The search metaphor is built around first helping you find what a particular journalist has written instead of how to contact them. Alternately, it shows you what has been written most recently about your search topic. Most databases rely on tags, beat codes or similar methods to produce relevant search results, and they’re rarely more than 50 percent accurate on the first pass without user training. With IT Database, the results are uncannily relevant on the first pass, with no training.
Fast, Intuitive Search -- Simplified Boolean search logic works great in IT Database. A quick, Google-like search entry is all you need to get a quick shot of results that can then direct your search.
Intuitive search, drill-down make this a great tool for media relations research into tech journalists' interests.
In this search on “cloud computing and hypervisor”, every listing under “Source”, “Author”, and “Vendors” is a link. In fact, almost everything on the page is a drill-down link. So, not only do you get basic analytics that tell you which publications, writers and companies are producing the most content, you get a one-click drill down. This saves time. And, as opposed to other tools I’ve used, IT Database does not mind if you use the “back” button to navigate. Very intuitive and easy.
Events and Editorial Calendars -- The database offers a straightforward (and quite accurate, if a bit limited) listing of tech industry events and publication editorial calendars. They’re as easy to search and navigate as the main media database.
Social Research -- Linkedin and Twitter links produce an instant search of the journalist’s social content. Access to this information can help you understand how you might be connected to this professional, as well as insights that you can only find in someone’s public social stream. Most tools include this now, but the utility makes it worth mentioning.
Results of drill-down on "cloud computing AND hypervisor" search.
Pricing -- Contact IT Database for pricing. It’s substantially lower than the omnibus tools out there.
After using the product for awhile, there are really only two areas for improvement that I’d really like to see in the next version:
Contact Info Depth -- For many contacts it seems all the database has is an email address and a general phone number. While this is not a major hindrance, it would be useful to fill this out a bit.
CRM-Style Contact Management -- The tool has cursory user fields for note taking. It would bee useful to allow users to keep private data on contact frequency with a time/date stamp, interaction notes, follow-up reminders, journalist contact preferences and other details that will make future contacts more beneficial for both sides.
So, if you’re looking for a media research tool that’s specifically tuned to the needs of technology companies, you should take a close look at IT Database. Having used similar tools since the days when Bacon’s went from a five-volume set of books to CDs, I can comfortably say that IT Database is the best choice out there for professionals who need to reach technology journalists most of the time.
Learn more about IT Database at http://itdatabase.com
The author can be reached at http://www.catheycommunications.com
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Messaging, media relations and analyst relations for disruptive technologies and discontinuous innovation.