Products and Tools this week

The PRWeek Products & Tools newsletter provides news, features, and campaigns delivered direct to your inbox. Here are certain featured sections from the weekly newsletter.

The PRWeek Products & Tools newsletter provides news, features, and campaigns delivered direct to your inbox. Here are certain featured sections from the weekly newsletter.

This week 

SAN FRANCISCO: Business Wire has enhanced its proprietary online measurement and analysis tool, International NewsTrak, with expanded Web monitoring capabilities, multilingual capabilities in a dozen languages, and improved workflow functionality.

LOS ANGELES and CLIFTON, NJ: Marketwire has announced its acquisition of Collegiate Presswire, a provider of electronic content and services to college and university media outlets.

LANHAM, MD: Vocus has launched Vocus Summer '07, the latest iteration of its on-demand software for news monitoring, management, analysis, and sharing.

The End User

Todd Defren, Principal, SHIFT Communications

What helpful product or tool have you discovered?
Managing and organizing your online world can be a daunting task - especially if you're in the business of tracking news. Toggling between sites, databases, IM, and email is enough to distract even the savviest web worker.

An increasing number of clients are interested in what's being said about them in the blogosphere. That's no surprise, given that many mainstream reporters now also look to the bloggers for ideas and insights about many major brands and issues.

But for a PR pro, it can be just as important to understand what the blogs are saying about trends, news, even a webpage, across any industry. Often bloggers will reference a webpage without naming the company or source in their own text; it's just a link, so a Technorati search may come up short.

That's where Google's Blogger Web Comments (a Firefox browser extension) comes in handy. This tool allows you see what bloggers have said about the page you're visiting - no need to worry about keywords. A flashing word balloon in your browser alerts you to any blog comments that have been made about any page you're visiting. It's a great way to supplement results from the typical Technorati search.

Expert Q&A

Matt Blumberg, CEO, Return Path

Please give a brief description of Return Path's work.

MB: Return Path does three things to help businesses take advantage of email. First, we help permission email marketers get their messages delivered to recipients' inboxes through our Sender Score division. Second, we help marketers find new customers and get permission to send email to them through our Postmaster Network. Third, we help market researchers connect with consumers and businesspeople who are willing to take online surveys through our Authentic Response division.

At this point, everyone has email. What are some of the latest innovations in email technology?

MB: Almost everyone who markets by email today has had the frustration of realizing that their messages don't always make it to the inbox. The big news this year is that email systems are moving away from content as a way to filter out spam to a system where the reputation of the sender is what determines their placement in the inbox. This is actually great news for marketers. It means the days of having to use less-than-optimal language to avoid tripping filters are over. But it does mean they need to employ a different type of diligence. The main factors that affect deliverability today are complaint rates, unknown user rates, spam trap hits (how many non-permissioned email addresses you have on your list), infrastructure issues and how long you've been sending with a good reputation from a given server. By focusing on these issues, marketers can ensure inbox placement at a high rate - no matter what words are included in the message.

What are some of the new ways in which email can be used by PR pros?

MB: Email an excellent way for PR folks to build and sustain relationships with both clients and prospects. For clients, you should be sending regular communications with tips and ideas to help them grow their business. Focus on what they care about - how to get better coverage, how to turn that coverage into revenue, how they can look good with their boss - and your email will be welcomed. For prospects you can use a lot of the same content, but tweak the surrounding messaging to focus on how you could help make their life easier. If possible, break this list down further into prospects who currently use another agency and prospects who do their own PR work. For the first group you can focus on what makes your agency better. For the second, focus on how working with you would actually save them money by saving time and getting better results.

You recently did an Op-Ed (sub req'd) about the move towards mobile phone research from land-line phone research. In the era of Do Not Call lists, why is phone research still effective? And how can it be more effective?

MB: Phone research can get data that simply isn't possible through online methods - and, of course, the reverse is true too. The best way to make phone research more effective is to get permission. Assembling a list of people who are willing to be contacted by phone (and, for that matter, by email) for research purposes is going to yield better quality data and save on long-run costs.

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