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Origins Of Media Stories & Media Databases

Gina Trapani's wiki blacklisting PR companies for spamming her personal email address has produced several reactions in the community from apologies, to retribution and agreement.

The incident has brought a few issues bubbling to the surface for me.

In Jason Falls post he suggested that journalists depend upon PR people to write stories. I was wondering if Jason is correct. What are the percentage of stories written by journalists that were originated by pitches from public relations people compared to stories developed by journalists through research and outreach to public relations departments or agencies.

Surely most journalists develop their articles from doing research rather than talking with PR people? Or at the very least, most journalists contact the PR people rather than respond to pitches? My question for the community and Jason in particular, is, what's the percentage of stories that derive from pitches compared to stories derived from research and outreach conducted by journalists?

What say you Todd Defren, Susan Getgood, Brian Solis, and Jeremy Pepper?

The second issue was the origin of Gina's email address in the Cision database.

Todd Defren received a comment on his blog from Miiko Mentz of the Pink Moxie blog that she had seen Gina's personal email address in the Cision database, several people suggested that Gina should not complain so loudly if she put her email address in the database in the first place.

Dave Donohue kindly looked up Gina's name in the database over the weekend for Todd, as Todd had forgotten his password.

Today Todd Defren called Cision and had them change the email address in the database.

I also called Cision today and spoke with one of the people in their PR department. He told me that Cision gets email addresses from journalists by the journalists contacting the company directly, and when his team reaches out to journalists. He also mentioned that sometimes Cision gets the email addresses from other sources, he did not clarify which sources. He looked up Gina's name in the Cision database and was not able to find her at the time of my call (Todd Defren must have been on the phone with the database person at the time). The PR guy told me he would give me a call back today confirming the company’s protocol for entering names in their database.

Rather than relying on a database, I would think that most really good PR people would read a journalist/blogger’s articles before pitching them, and also research the journalist’s stated preferred method to contact them. However, I can quite imagine a PR agency using a database to find all of the obscure journalists in an unknown field.

If Cision is going to be successful in providing legitimate contacts for journalists and bloggers, I would suggest the company make sure there is a tracking mechanism that records how Cision acquired names and contact information, either received confirmation from a journalist or pulled the information off a website that described how a journalist wishes to be contacted.

What do you think? What should the protocol be for a database company to record the email addresses of journalists?


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