Robin Neidorf Meltwater Press Mini-Review: Part 1
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By Robin Neidorf

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Meltwater, a 10-year-old media monitoring company, is best known for Meltwater News, which monitors web-based news distribution and provides customers with alerts, and Meltwater Buzz, which offers a look into social media activity and sentiment. These compete with similar offerings from companies like Cision and Burrelle’s in the media space and with products like NewsDesk (Moreover) and Factiva (Dow Jones) in the news space.

The company has been much in the news over disputes in the United Kingdom with the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) over licensing requirements (see LiveWire coverage here and here). The legal questions around this dispute have yet to be resolved (though the most recent ruling, in November 2010, did not go in Meltwater’s favour), and the ultimate outcome may have a significant impact on the way the company does business far beyond the boundaries of the United Kingdom. At issue is whether customers who receive a Meltwater report of links to web-based coverage of news coverage need their own licence simply to receive the title and link.

Lost in debates over the legal status of a link, however, has been recognition of the lesser-known but remarkable Meltwater Press, a division of the Meltwater Group designed to support public relations professionals. I recently had the opportunity to trial three of Meltwater’s services – News, Buzz and Press – and found Meltwater Press to be a real advancement over traditional tools for discovering relevant journalists, assembling PR lists and building relationships with influencers.

The concept of Meltwater Press is simple and yet revolutionary:

Traditional PR databases guide the creation of target lists of journalists through a user interface that allows the PR professional to define the audience, type of media (e.g., newspaper, TV, radio, web, etc.), regional coverage, and the “beat” of the journalist as entered into the underlying database. The quality of the resulting list depends a great deal on the accuracy of the research that goes into populating that database. How up-to-date are listings? Are assigned beats accurate? What about contact information and contact preferences?

The difficulty I’ve always had with these databases is that beat coverage rarely reflects reality, at least as I know it. When I’ve created lists, beats are almost invariably a “near miss” (at best!) to the kind of journalist I’m looking for. And every day I must delete from my inbox five or six press releases from PR agencies that have my email address off some database that says I write about “business news: computers and technology” or something similarly connected only vaguely to my work.

Meltwater already crawls the web for news, capturing content and analysing it to provide reports to customers based on their search terms. Meltwater Press puts this content to work for PR professionals by enabling them to target journalists not by a database entry for beat, but based on what they have actually written.

The intelligence of this approach is readily apparent. During my trial I ran searches for topics that never show up in database beat lists:

  • “information management” AND governance

  • Taxonomy OR taxonomies OR folksonomy

  • (“records management” OR “records manager”) AND governance

The results brought up journalists who are writing and producing content for a variety of traditional and new outlets. The list was smaller than a traditional database might produce but far more accurate to my needs. (See Figure 1)

From those results, I have a number of options for interacting further with the names on the list. I can pull up their relevant articles and click through to read, hover over a name for instant viewing of contact details (see Figure 2), click through to more detail about the contact, save the contact, add it to one of my PR lists, click to view their LinkedIn profile, or follow the link to learn more about the primary publication(s) the contact is associated with.

Search results are (theoretically) always up-to-date. They find journalists who have a side interest in an area, even if it is not the topic they primarily cover. The Meltwater Press interface makes it very easy to validate the accuracy of resulting contacts by clicking over to their recent work. For PR professionals, these benefits are truly time-saving and enable quick prioritisation for maximum productivity.

Part 2 of this mini-review takes a closer look at interacting with contacts.

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