Say Hello to MatchPoint, and Goodbye to Media Lists? 6

On Monday, I caught Jason at PRNewser’s post on MatchPoint, a new web service designed to help PR people match their press release, pitch, or list of keywords with the most relevant journalists and bloggers.

The service, which is a joint effort between eNR Services and Peter Himler of Flatiron Communications, attempts to resolve the long-standing complaint among journalists about PR spam and those in the industry who send misguided story queries to the media. It also tries to minimize the amount of time spent on constructing media lists from scratch for new releases and when dealing with new clients.

From the MatchPoint release on Monday, this is how it works:

MatchPoint ( does not rely on vague job titles to identify potentially receptive reporters and bloggers. Rather, it uses patent-pending search technology to analyze a news release, pitch letter or group of keywords in order to produce a media list with a weighted ranking of journalists whose actual body of work “matches” the search query. Names are culled from several news content databases containing 3 million articles from 11,000 print publications, 25,000 online news sites, and 10,000 blogs dating back six months.

So with a description like that, how could I resist taking advantage of the 10-day free trial, which they are now offering.

The service was easily downloadable as a “widget” from the Matchpoint site (If you already have Adobe AIR downloaded for clients like twhirl it’s really easy). Once you get your confirmation email and sign in you are prompted with a window like the one pictured above. That’s when the simplicity of the service kicks in.

You simply cut and past your release, pitch or keywords into the “Point” section and Matchpoint’s engine provides results in the “Matchpoint” window (broken-up between print and blogs). Unfortunately when it provides the results it takes you to a Webpage, rather than providing them directly within the widget on your desktop. This is a little annoying and is why I put the word widget in “” earlier (Note – it could just be that it’s because I’m using a free 10-day trial).

The results (journalists and their relevant recent stories from over the last six-months) are scored by Matchpoint’s engine by relevancy or likely receptiveness to a pitch / release.

In the little time I got to spend with the engine this morning, I was pretty impressed by the results. The engine scores by word “tags” but also appears to score by how many times a word is used in the pitch / release and within the reporter’s relevant coverage. This meant that when I did a test search with a client’s release, the top journalist results were littered with reporters who have covered the client in the past.

The media (print) results appear to be much more useful than the blog results as the blog results don’t list specific bloggers as the byline owners. When going through the print results you can click on the name of each reporter and get their full contact information along with briefs from their recent stories. When searching through blog results that option is not available as it lists the stories by blog not author (i.e TechCrunch, Cnet Crave, etc). It does provide you with a “contact blogger” link that directs you to their site, however you have to find the contact information on the Website on your own. Also, in trying, I thought that the results were the best when you used a full release in the search, rather than keywords or a pitch. The results seemed to be improved by the language and words that were repeated (in different ways) within the release.

But what does the service really offer you and is it worth $65 a month you ask?

My initial thought is that I think it makes a lot of sense for agencies of all sizes to invest the $65 a month to get the service. At least one license. Although it won’t replace the task of creating media lists it is a great place to start when working with a new client or on a new vertical announcement that will have different targets than the ones you usually work with. Also, with it’s ability to update with recent stories, it could be a great resource to find new writers that may be beginning to follow a beat that ties closely to your client.

Although the results I saw this morning were very similar to the media lists that we already have for our client, and the test announcement / pitch that I tested out, it did produce a few new contacts that are worth finding out more on and potentially beginning dialogue with.

A technology like this isn’t going to be able to factor in relationships (i.e. a reporter that may not be the absolute best fit on paper but could be interested in covering based on your relationship with them), but it is a tool that could be valuable for entry-level and mid-level PR practitioners who are constantly building new lists. It provides a jump-start to the process and will act as a litmus test before you begin pitching.

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