Online service helps to make existing relationships better

Gist is a relationship management tool that allows users to create a centralized contact list of everyone they communicate with online, including via e-mail programs, such as Outlook and Gmail, and social media sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

What: Gist is a relationship management tool that allows users to create a centralized contact list of everyone they communicate with online, including via e-mail programs, such as Outlook and Gmail, and social media sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

Each contact profile includes most recent e-mails and attachments, plus the latest news from his or her social networks, blogs, as well as more than 50,000 news sources. The application also prioritizes contacts (this can be adjusted manually).

Gist, which was founded in 2008 by former Microsoft director T.A. McCann, is currently in public beta. The company plans to launch a paid premium service in Q3.

Many PR pros have signed up for the beta version with the aim of improving client and media interactions.

How: Gist presents information about a contact company in a user-friendly interface. It can also be used within e-mail programs so users can view a contact's profile without leaving their e-mail inbox.

"With Gist, I can see all the latest information about a client, so when I sit down with them I can say, 'So I just read your blog post, it's fantastic,'" says Erica Mills, founder and principal of marketing firm Mills Communications Group. "It accelerates conversations and deepens relationships."

Why: In addition to helping improve client interactions, Gist can also serve as a media relations conduit.

Greg Brooks, principal of PR firm West Third Group, says he can prioritize editor and reporter connections based on his current client roster.

"This way, I can see if reporters need information one of my clients, or my agency, can provide," he explains. "I could follow their blog on Google Reader or their tweets, but this allows me to do it in less time and in one place."

Who: Brooks recommends Gist to anyone in sales and client-driven businesses.

"There are so many oppor-tunities for the taking," he says. "Gist allows people to hear the right conversational snippet at the right time."

Mills adds that Gist can help her nonprofit clients keep abreast of donor interests.

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