Why TechNews Is More Deserving of Your Tech PR Budget Than Cision and TrendKite

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Lonn Johnston, Principal, Flak42

Fifteen years into my PR career, and 25 years in the tech industry — I’ve seen just about every media directory and PR platform imaginable. My firm launched companies like Splunk (NASDAQ: SPLK), Cloudera (NYSE: CLDR), MuleSoft ($6.5B acquisition by Salesforce), the Google I/O conference, and was the first to work with Linus Torvalds at the OSDL that merged with the Linux Foundation. I’ll spare you the rest of my PR bonafides, but I was also a former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Assistant Dean at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

What I’ve noticed through the years is that unlike engineers, PR and marketing people tend to hold the tools they love close to the vest — which is a shame. Unlike engineers who relish sharing tools of the trade (programming languages, frameworks, et al), with an “all boats rise in a rising tide” philosophy, PR and marketing pros in the tech industry generally have very little visibility into what their peers use for tools besides the usual suspects like Cision — don’t even talk to me about Meltwater — and increasingly, Trendkite.

For my money, TechNews is the most valuable PR tool in my arsenal, period. And I’m amazed by how many tech companies I work with whose in-house PR and marketing teams are unaware of this tool. There is a zombie effect of companies renewing contracts to low-value, little-tech tools for their PR needs. Let me fire a flare to help wake up some tech companies about why they should strongly consider TechNews as 2019 budget cycles approach.

Here’s my rough comparison of TechNews to Cision (long time subscriber) and TrendKite (in year two of brutal contract) based on the features that I really care about.

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My Conclusions on Cision Vs. TechNews…

For me, the Cision comparison to TechNews is that TechNews tends to have an order of magnitude more authors based on any search I do focused on the tech industry. I can’t search within authors and outlets in Cision the way I can on TechNews. Cision for me became essentially a very expensive phone book of contact info for a subset of the tech industry authors I care about. I generally could only find authors in Cision when I already knew they existed (the “discovery” element was of very low value). I originally used Google news to supplement these gaps, but then TechNews replaced that ungainly combination of different tools for my research use cases.

My Conclusions on TrendKite Vs. TechNews…

Let’s start with the fact that I pay more than $10,000 per year for TrendKite, for some nice looking analytics that make it simpler to put eye candy in front of clients to show them value for their spend with me. But that’s a lot of dough. While TrendKite has an abundance of much more sophisticated chart types than TechNews, my experience has been that TrendKite’s data is missing a high volume of the authors that TechNews covers. For me, TrendKite is the general “how is everything going” 30,000-foot view, while TechNews’ charts (rudimentary as they may be) actually have statistical significance. If I want to compare how a client is doing, or compare who writes about one tech company versus another, or see the growth of coverage on a topic — I go to TechNews for that. It’s faster, easier to use, and easier to understand the charts immediately.

My Bottom-line on TechNews vs. Cision and TrendKite…

If you are…

  • An in-house PR pro at a tech company
  • A marketing consultant
  • A principal at a tech PR firm

… you have a general data challenge in keeping track of the tens of thousands of authors that write about your company / client, their categories, and their competitors. This is the basic blocking and tackling research data that anyone who is good at publicizing a product, brand or company must master.

Your choice how to do this. You can go all manual and rely on web searches and spreadsheets, which is incredibly time consuming. Or you can choose an automated platform.

TechNews is the platform that appreciates my use cases best, for the best price, and is a well kept secret among pretty much every tech PR firm in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Anyone promoting a technology company would be wise to give it a test drive as part of your next PR tools evaluation processes.

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