Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Don't confuse NewsBasis with ProfNet or HARO

I recently learned about a new service that links journalists with sources. It's in Beta mode now, which allows test users to provide suggestions for making it more useful. I signed up as a journalist to use this service, NewsBasis, because I wanted to see how it worked and how it might differ from other services that are currently available, including ProfNet, a paid service, and HARO, a free one. I was intrigued enough by the site to invite founder Darryl Siry to do a Q&A here and he obliged. Here's our conversation.

What, exactly, is NewsBasis?

NewsBasis is a communications platform for journalists and companies to enable for effective and efficient media relations.

What is your goal for the service?

I'd like to be the standard technology platform for media relations, whether you are a journalist or on the other side of the table. We have a ways to go and lots of features to develop before we get there, but we are off to a good start.

How does a journalist use it?

Journalists can use our service in several ways:
  1. They can search our database for expert sources and company points of view, to find sources or story angles
  2. They can post specific requests to engage users. Users are notified based on their saved keywords or based on how the request matches their profile.
  3. They can use the platform for researching articles using the real time media notification and annotation functionality.
How does a publicist or corporate communicator use the service?

PR folks and company folks can use the service in the following ways:

  1. Embed their points of view in articles so that journalists can discover them when they search
  2. Respond to specific requests from journalists that match their interests or where they can be valuable
  3. Fill out their profiles so that Journalists find them in searches and NewsBasis can automatically route relevant requests to them.
  4. Discover relevant news articles in real time using our media notification service (in the "news" tab)
  5. Use the private annotation and sharing capabilities to collaborate within their teams.
Clearly, this service has more features than others. Why do you offer them – did you survey journalists about their needs, and did they request them?

It's a combination of my personal experiences and feedback from journalists, corporate comms folks and PR agency folks.

Do sources (companies, PR firms, etc.) pay a fee to access the journalist requests and if so, how much?

The service is free during the Beta. Eventually we will announce pricing for corporate and PR users but we expect the price to be very reasonable.

From what I can tell by clicking around the site, it uses a passive system. By that I mean that sources need to come to the site and search for opportunities they can contribute to. In contrast, other journalist-source matching services like ProfNet, HARO, and ReporterConnection push the queries out to the sources through e-mail messages. Tell me more about why you don’t connect your journalist and source users by e-mail. 

We want to focus on relevance above all. If you are a corporate user of NewsBasis, you can set up saved keywords so that any requests that match your saved keywords are routed to you by email. You can scan all requests on the site if you'd like but I think a better approach is to set up various keywords and make sure your profile is complete and very descriptive so you will be notified when something relevant is posted.

The site requires users to install Google Chrome. Why? Are you concerned that requiring that extra step will discourage some users who won’t want to install the software?

It doesn't require that you install Google Chrome - what it was doing was recommending to Internet Explorer users that they install a small program provided by Google called "Chrome Frame" to allow our application to work better in IE. Admittedly, this has caused some confusion for users and we are working right now to make this step unnecessary. Still, we think that everybody should use Chrome or Firefox, since they are far superior to IE and operate on open standards.

What’s the most important thing that publicity seekers need to know about NewsBasis?

That NewsBasis is not HARO or Profnet. It is a very different service that allows you to embed you or your client's point of view directly in articles. This is a powerful way to promote your thought leadership program or get your messages out.

Similarly, what’s the most important thing that journalists should know about it?

That NewsBasis is a resource that will make it easier for them to get their jobs done more easily and effectively.


I can't offer an opinion of the service because I haven't used it yet to find sources, but I'll note that it's more complicated and has far more "layers" than ProfNet, HARO, or ReporterConnection. I think those layers and features will be more appealing initially to very tech-savvy users. Those who are uncomfortable with technology might find the options intimidating and not take advantage of them. To sign up as either a journalist or a communicator hoping to connect with reporters, visit

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