Wikis Pose a Threat to Costly Media Directories

    January 27, 2005

One tool that PR professionals rely on daily is the trusty media directory. The leading company in this space …

is Bacons Information, which in late 2003 acquired its largest competitor MediaMap. (PR Newswire also has a media directory, called MediAtlas.)

While these databases have evolved nicely over the years – from dead-tree books to CDs to robust online tools – they risk becoming extinct unless they evolve fast into wikis (definition).

Media directories are a costly, yet necessary purchase for PR professionals. Annual subscriptions often run several thousand dollars depending on the number of licenses a company owns. These tools are essential because not only do they attempt to catalog the contact information of virtually every reporter, editor and producer under the sun, but they also provide rich insights into his/her beat and likes/dislikes.

In addition, they index editorial calendar opportunities, which helps PR people pitch into stories that are already planned to run at some point in the future.

However, as any PR professional will attest, the major online media directories are far from perfect. Information is often inaccurate, updates are slow and they have struggled to keep up with the exploding universe of bloggers and podcasters, despite their best attempts. This is where we can help.

Media directories must evolve into wikis or they risk becoming extinct. They are spending a lot of money paying researchers. Why not also bring customers (e.g. PR people) into the fold and enable us to edit listings, share insights and knowledge via a wiki?

In the future, PR professionals – and even consumers – will create their own media directories. For a glimpse of this today, check out this page on Wikipedia. They are starting to index journalists, including Jennifer 8. Lee of the New York Times. The paid services better evolve fast. Because in the near future as wikis become more popular and easier to set up, we may end up forming our own tool that enables us to share our knowledge.

Just look at what Romanian PR pro Constantin Basturea is already doing with TheNewPR wiki and you will see what the potential is for open knowledge sharing in PR.

Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.