Ray George | B2B Technology Public Relations Specialist / Freelance
I've been in tech PR for the better part of 20 years. I was a principal in a boutique agency back in the early '00s (Venture PR Group). I was an early employee of Page One PR, the first agency to work with Linux creator Linus Torvalds. I've represented some really interesting open source projects for The Linux Foundation (like Hyperledger). And I continue to consult to early stage tech startups in the realm of datacenter / cloud / developer tech.
So I've tried just about every PR research tool through the years. And with respect to the fact that Cision, Meltwater and MuckRack each have their own pros and cons that others may have more personal experience with - for me there is one tool that is fundamental to tech PR, and just keeps broadening its lead: TechNews (https://technews.io). It's like Google for tech PR - so indispensable it's hard to imagine not having access to it.
If you are working with any client, and you consider the repetitive tasks around media relations (and what it actually takes to get results), a lot of it looks like:
- constant search for new authors covering topics of interest
- constant focus on authors you already know about, to detect transitions to new publications, or changes in editorial focus
- constant reading of coverage on topics of interest (in search of interesting new angles, and just reading the tea leaves about what the reporters you are engaging care about)
- constant analysis of your client competitors' coverage, and benchmarking against that coverage
A lot of this frankly is pouring over metadata, spotting patterns, and capitalizing on opportunities that you see when you are disciplined. The more in control you are of these variables, the smarter you are, the more valuable you are to your clients AND the authors you are engaging, and the more coverage you gain. A lot of this is hard, tedious work, if you don't have the right tool.
TechNews isn't perfect in every way, but it is light years ahead of any other tool in a lot of the areas I care about the most. Some of these are things that aren't even possible anywhere else:
- being able to search on any granular term (say, Kubernetes, or a specific blockchain technology) and see metadata on all the authors / outlets writing
- being able to define topics I care about, have that part of the UI every time I log in and not have to re-remember everything I care about
- getting email alerts that are more useful than Google Alerts
- being able to search within a specific outlet and see every person writing about any topic you search for
- being able to search within an individual author's coverage
- looking at ALL historic coverage on a topic and being able to see the densest / most relevant stories
- easy export-ability of all of this
- super simple chart creation to create coverage reports / trends (based on real coverage, and now web crawl gibberish)
- a simple directory of tens of thousands of calls for speakers and other event / award info in the tech industry
I would imagine a lot of tech PR firms and consultants are taking a close look at their upcoming renewals to existing research services, and trying to piece together what the budget looks like for 2020. Sadly at a lot of agencies, often that procurement process is on autopilot, and there are a lot of lackluster tools still in play that don't get a lot of usage by staff, and really aren't particularly valuable to the tech PR process.
If you are on the agency side - whether principal or account executive, or anywhere in between - do yourself a favor in these last couple of months of 2020, and take a close look at TechNews. Search for your clients, their topics, the publications and authors you care about. Compare what you see against similar searches in whatever else you've been using.