Tracking IT Media Coverage

To quote the Eagles, “Ooh, hoo … there’s a new kid in town” and there’s going to be “talk on the street.” If you’ve ever waded through thousands of search engine results looking for the latest articles on an IT topic or found yourself appalled by the sparse results from a Google News search, then you are going to LOVE ITDatabase.
Simply plug in IT search terms on ITDatabase’s simple Web interface, and at the stroke of a button you can pull together a list of journalists with links to the relevant articles they’ve written in the last week to six months.

Click on their names, and you will see everything each journalist or blogger has written in that same time period. Click on the article titles and you go straight to the online article. Click on the publication and you see a list of authors that write for that publication or blog. There’s a summary of the results at the top that serves as a handy table of contents, but that’s not its purpose. Rather it breaks down the number of times each publication and author referenced your search term so you can see at a glance who regularly writes about this subject.

Of course, I had to do my own little experiment. I plugged in “network configuration” and up popped 148 results over the past six months. Whether or not you actually care about network configuration — I for one am personally fascinated by the subject – the point is that suddenly I had links to the latest articles and blogs in publications ranging from FierceVoIP and Computerworld to ChannelWeb and VentureWire.

Contrast that with Google News where I got just 40 results for the same phrase. The Google News results included press releases — which I didn’t want — but they did have a couple of other articles and publications not listed by ITDatabase like AccountingWeb and Computing. Not to worry. ITDatabase tells you up front that while they track “more tech authors than any other research tool – we are only human and sometimes make mistakes.” They note on their Web site that they employ various methods to discover new tech authors and content sources, and they welcome user feedback.

ITDatabase does not track “commercial content such as advertisements, press releases, advertorials or corporate blogs.” This makes it a most useful tool in my book. Culling those from the results gets rid of a lot of the clutter served up by other Web-based media research tools and clipping services. This is why ITDatabase is appropriately described as a media research platform specifically for marketing and PR professionals.

So who’s behind this new media research offering dedicated to IT? Travis Van and Phil Grimm (one a PR guy and the other a techie) founded ITDatabase in July 2007. They formally announced the media research platform in May of this year, and I just stumbled on it. As I started writing this blog post I was surprised to find out that while I have somehow never met Travis, he and I had both worked at the old Niehaus Ryan Wong PR agency, and even represented the same client years later.

Travis’ PR grounding provides some checks and balances to the infinite possibilities of the technology. When I asked Travis if ITDatabase has any plans to provide an email distribution platform for pitches and press releases, he replied that they are “leaning towards it … we are really thinking through how we might protect the tech authors’ best interests and prevent spam.” He acknowledged “there is a practical reason why some PR folks need to send blast emails to authors.” And what might that be? ” If you are a publicly traded company that has been in business for 10+ years, you have canned ‘announcements’ that journalists have opted into. And if you’re a mega tech co., that list might be 500 deep, and you have some last minute announcement going out tomorrow. We certainly don’t want our users in that case to have to ping every individual author.” Already the list building capabilities are in place. A “My Project” feature can be used to build and export (.CSV) lists of the authors.

So what are the weaknesses? According to Travis, ITDatabase only retrieves authors by the frequency that they write about a topic. He notes that this doesn’t mean they are the most important author on the subject. ITDatabase plans to add other criteria such as the reach of the publication “to make determining the relative ‘importance’ of an author a little easier.”

ITDatabase’s price tag of $2,000 per year for a company license for unlimited users severely undercuts other services out there such as Cision and Vocus. Better yet, it’s offered at half that price if you happen to be a Business Wire subscriber. Bottom line: if you don’t require a built in email distribution platform for the handy dissemination of press releases and pitches (and those tools are controversial in light of the PR spam debates), this is a great alternative to track the media influencers to instantly find out what they are writing on the IT topic of your choice. It includes telephone numbers and emails.

But don’t just take my word for it; try a free trial for yourself.

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