I’ve been doing tech PR for more years than I care to count. During that time, I’ve used proprietary media database solutions and the platforms offered by Cision, Trendkite and, more recently, Meltwater. At our agency, teams often complain about the shortcomings of these solutions. In all honesty, no platform seems perfect, and everything often gets supplemented with Google and per-publication searches.
However, our teams have recently started using TechNews, and we’re in love…so much so that I want to take a minute to outline some of the key features that, quite frankly, seem to blow the doors off the competition. If you’re a public relations professional working in the tech industry, I highly recommend you trial TechNews today. Here are a couple of the features that have us excited.
Making the Power of Search Simple to Use
In this day and age, creating a web application shouldn’t be difficult. But often big vendors over-bake these platforms. For example, in the case of Meltwater (I’m picking on them because they’re the most recent tool we’ve used, but the analogy holds for others), these platforms are trying to be everything for every PR professional. But in tech PR, we’re primarily focused on a couple key activities that we need to do really, really well. If a platform can help us execute on those activities quickly and effectively, we’re all in.
Let’s look at some quick examples. First, we want to easily find contact information for press and analysts that matter for our clients. This is something we often do daily. In a single search bar, we should be able to type in a tech journalist’s name and get the result in one step (without having to click a bunch of tabs, filters or tags). In comparison, you can’t do that in Meltwater. First, you have to navigate from the dashboard into the influencer search, then select the search tab, then enter the term to generate the results, then select the result from a list (and you might get a goose egg on the results, something especially frustrating to our teams).
On the other hand, TechNews offers that simple search bar on the homepage. Just enter the person’s name or topic, and you get instant results. The contact details are in the left column, and additional columns to the right list the outlets they write for, the companies they cover and the recent coverage (all of this is clickable for more information, without page reload, with a quick zoom in and out of details you need). And, you can quickly refine with advanced searches, or search for an additional topic within that contact’s data (as an example, to find out if John Doe has ever written about managed services). This is equally simple for outlet searches, topics, etc. So far, it’s rare to find the platform missing a tech journalist.
Second, we want to quickly explore topics (like “application vulnerabilities”) to see who’s writing about them in a given timeframe. And, we want to have instant click access to see that content for relevance. Being able to do “discoverability” quickly allows us to constantly expand our news-jacking and proactive outreach, accomplish basic table stakes tasks like building new contact lists, and have an intimate understanding of how the press are covering the topics that matter most to our clients.
In comparison, while all of this can probably be done in Meltwater, it can be time consuming. First, you have to go to the search tab, enter the topic (for example “application vulnerabilities”) then view the articles in a separate tab from the contacts. While it often returns similar results on content to TechNews (for example, about 2,000 results in the last 90 days for “application vulnerabilities”), when you click over to the contacts, Meltwater lists 13 people that cover this topic, while TechNews breaks it down into 800, by frequency, influence, etc. –– all on a single interactive page. Making lists is also a breeze in TechNews and there’s no cap on the number of lists you can create. The cross-correlation of the data and navigation makes TechNews a surgical tool for tech PR. It dramatically accelerates our ability to understand topics, relevance and trends.
Third, we want a resource that makes award and event research simple. When it comes to validation and thought leadership, many tech clients make award and speaker programs priorities. The big platforms don’t offer a simple service for this, and I understand why – it’s hard to do well (they tackle the issue by allowing alerting around keywords, like awards) . That being said, it’s a service offered by TechNews, and while not perfect by any means, it does provide about 75 percent of the information you need to start shaping a B2B awards program. And again, research is simple. You just click the “Events” tab, type in a keyword and you get all the results, which you can then easily select to track in a calendar format or export (and get reminders for deadlines). Three-click simplicity.
Finally, we want to run quick share of voice (SOV) analyses. Providing context to clients is extremely valuable when determining tactics, shifting approaches, measuring success and more. Most platforms offer this capability, but you’ll pay a premium for it (we’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars), and it can be overly complicated and require significant human capital. It’s also extremely off-putting to learn you’ve run out of searches and will need to wait until the next month to search again.
This ability comes standard with TechNews and the platform shines at offering simple, but effective SOV capabilities. Want to compare competitor coverage? Click on “Charts,” input the competitors and you’re done. You can get more granular insights by doing a SOV in relation to key industry terms; for example, select 5 competitors and map performance in proximity of certain keywords. Just input the competitors names and easily refine the results with a word proximity search. Want to track topic interest over time? There’s a chart for that, too. Want to chart a topic such as IoT versus brands to see who’s writing about the market (other than your company)? You can do that! Again, what makes this so compelling is that it’s simple to use and fast. I’ve actually created these charts during client calls and shared them in near real-time to help validate a point or frame a tactic.
Accuracy of Information
Our teams have always struggled with the accuracy of information other tools provide (or the generic nature of it). From out-of-date contacts (the biggest offender) to poor topic search returns, our teams find themselves relying on these tools less and less (and Google more and more). However, the ease-of-use, combined with the great results in TechNews, makes exploring new journalists or topics fun and informative. Searching for topics and influencers has gone from a burden to a secret weapon. We can be on call with a client, have them reference a new topic, and in seconds, I can share with them trending information on journalists, outlets, and more.
Unfortunately, we struggle to do that with a platform like Meltwater. For example, just the other day I was trying to get contact information for a Wall Street Journal reporter that has been with the publication for five years (my client was asking me about him as a new target). There was no information on this individual in Meltwater, despite him writing hundreds of articles. I wish I could say this was an isolated incident, but it’s a regularity when searching for tech journalists.
Another example: Try finding journalists that cover “Industrial IoT” in Meltwater. First, should you do an Influencer or general search? Not sure why these are different tabs (shouldn’t this be one consolidated tab?). Let’s say you select the Influencer tab (because why not?), then you’re faced with filter options and a clunky search. When you do figure it out, it returns 140 contacts over the last 90 days. Funny, if you do this search in the general search tab in Meltwater, you get 139 contacts (not sure why there’s a disparity), and you get the addition of coverage (accessible through a different tab), which returns 22K results (including posts from wire services, small-town TV stations and other noise).
Maybe this is useful for some PR professionals, but I struggle to find a scenario where this large shotgun approach to data is helpful. On the flip side, in TechNews that same search returns 192 contacts, and only 330 coverage results. That information is on a single page filtered by relevance. Why the disparity? Because TechNews is optimized for the technology market.
It’s Not Perfect, But It’s Close
The reality is that no platform delivers the perfect solution – but for tech PR pros, TechNews comes the closest. If it’s your job to help clients tell stories to the press, this platform turns data into intelligence, and it does it quickly. Based on how the platform is constructed, it’s obvious the developers understand the workflow of tech PR teams.
What would we like to see added in the future? Our teams rely on alerts to help stay on top of trends (whether Google Alerts or Meltwater alerts). We’d love to see TechNews add this functionality in the future. The platform also doesn’t support inputting (or uploading) of lists. You can build them in the platform and export, but if you already have a list, you can’t upload and cross-check for duplicates. Perhaps this gets added in the future, but we understand the mischief it can cause with preserving data accuracy.
TechNews is a tool that helps our teams quickly understand the media landscape around the topics that matter most to our clients. Do you use TechNews? What are some of your favorite features?