Almost every startup needs to execute a PR strategy in some way or another to succeed.  One of the key aspects of executing PR is reaching out to journalists + bloggers (I could write a whole post on the right+wrong way to do this).  How do you get that contact info?  A lot of people pay thousands of dollars a year for contact databases from companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars like Vocus or Burrelle’s Luce.  Vocus literally has an office full of nearly minimum wage staffers who do nothing, but call journalists to update contact information.  This just isn’t efficient in a Wikipedia world.  Most importantly, this information should be available to companies for free.  If I have a startup, I should be able to find the contact information, pitching preferences, etc. of relevant journalists + bloggers to pitch without scouring the internet endlessly and/or paying thousands of dollars a year for a contact database.  Here’s what I propose:

A free, open, and crowd contributed database of blogger + journalist contact information for startups.

Here’s how it would work:

  • Start solely with the tech niche (the mashable, techcrunch, wired, and LA Times tech beat writers of the world).
  • Fully open to browse and moderated submissions/revisions ie- you submit contact info of a blogger, we’ll double check that it’s okay (ie- no personal info given).

Some concerns:

  • Spam- I’d probably make email addresses an image only to prevent scrapers from coming stealing it.  There would also be a strict rule: NO PERSONAL INFORMATION.  If it’s an email address it should be associated with the publication.  If it’s a cell phone number, it should be available already somewhere.
  • Initial Content-  I wouldn’t launch this without having a fairly decent database of tech writers.  That wouldn’t take long and a few startup/PR friends alone could help me populate the database in a matter of hours.
  • Benefit to bloggers/journalists-  Most startups have no clue how to pitch you specifically.  They just scour the net, find a contact page, and shoot off a shitty email.  If we had an open database where pitching preferences were included, I bet the pitches would get a whole lot better + tailored to your preferences.
  • Some may say “bloggers/journalists won’t want their info out there”-  There’s a chance this is right, but if you deal with spam + personal information privacy the right way, it should be okay.  This information is available to ANYONE, except you usually have to pay thousands of dollars.  I have a real problem with information costing thousands of dollars when it should be free + openly available.  Journalists + Bloggers are meant to get pitched and already do, this would just help make the process more bearable with better pitches since their preferences would be listed.

I originally had this idea a few years ago.  I figured somebody would solve it as the number of startups was increasing and the need for PR became more important.  Some important people in PR and the startup world told me they would love this.  I certainly would, how about you?  Please reach out personally j@jasonlbaptiste.com if you are either a blogger/journalist or startup that wants to get involved.