BlogDash bills itself as the way media databases should work. The blogger outreach alternative to powerhouses like Cision, Vocus and Burrelles Luce moved out of private beta today. The tool evolved from Scribnia, a blog network site, in response to the ebb-and-flow world of blogger outreach which has, at times, gotten businesses and their public relations teams in trouble. BlogDash is now an option for PR folks looking for that magic bullet for effective blogger outreach.
While no magic bullet exists, what BlogDash does is make pitching and reaching bloggers (and other online media folk) an opt-in process that is more fluid and simple than the more robust, traditional tools allow. Blogger data is pulled from publicly available information, but bloggers are also actively invited and recruited to register and set their own preferences for topics, pitches and contact methods. Web 2.0-friendly design and connection tools, along with custom list building capabilities bring the media database services to the independent practitioner who can’t afford Cision or Vocus pricing.
I’ve been a beta tester of BlogDash for a couple of months now and while I’ve used it only briefly, I can attest that the user interface and navigation is a vast improvement from the big boys. Building and curating lists needs no real explaining. You search for the topic, view the list of bloggers and just click “add to list” when you find one that looks like they may be right. The bio information pulled in on the blogger is a good set of information, including traffic estimates, Klout score, social network profiles, latest posts and more.
The only frustrating thing I’ve found in the beta version of the tool is that it helps you build the list, but doesn’t often pull in email addresses or phone numbers. So it’s almost built to make you conduct your outreach publicly on social networks which isn’t always practical or even wise, depending upon the topic or client.
More important to consider is what BlogDash has in front of it: An uphill battle. Getting more than just the PR and social media set of bloggers to register and proactively manage their contact information is going to challenge the success of the tool. This is especially true when most bloggers would just as soon never be contacted in the first place. A quick search of a few consumer product good categories I’m familiar with showed only a handful of blogs. I know there are dozens more out there. Any database-driven platform is only as useful as its data is robust. Without far-reaching adoption on the blogger/journalist front, I don’t see BlogDash being any more effective than other tools in its category.
However, if a blogger outreach tool build by bloggers (co-founder David Spinks is a particularly good one on the subjects of public relations and online communications) for bloggers can circulate through blog channels until there’s wide adoption, BlogDash could wind up being a dandy tool in the long run.
Still, even starting fresh with a media database will give it a leg up on the more traditional tools. Cision, Vocus, Burrelles and the like have one main problem: they’re too big. Keeping the databases updated and timely is impossible when it consists of hundreds of thousands of entries. BlogDash will at least have a better chance of more accurate information … for now.
The search and filter functionalities are strong. The list-building process is easy. But doing outreach with the tool isn’t practical without email or phone data. It would be nice if BlogDash expands to include that, plus each blogger’s preferred method of contact. Poking around a few profiles I found, I couldn’t easily find that information.
The concept is right. The tool needs some maturation. But it’s live and useful and if you’re looking to easily build lists of online voices in your category, it’s worth a look see. Their seven-day free trial is a must-take, though. They start at $99 per month for one user and five searches. Take the trial and make your decision. It’s cheaper than the alternatives, but still needs some functionality to be a slam-dunk at that price, in my opinion.
What are you using as a media database tool? Which do you like? What are the strengths and weaknesses of those out there? The comments are yours.