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NewsBasis: Connecting Journalists and PR in New Ways

Can a startup transform media relations? That’s the question being asked by NewsBasis, a new site launched this week which aims to connect journalists with sources, or rather, PR agencies, companies, non-profits and consultants, to be specific.

However, the focus is primarily on connecting the PR industry with journalists who want to hear about their clients’ products and services. This relationship, as it stands today, is strained. PR companies often adopt the “spray-and-pray” approach to getting their messages out – that is, mass emails to large distribution lists of which only a handful of recipients may be genuinely interested in the news.

Wouldn’t it be better to connect those PR folks directly to the writers receptive to the news without annoying hundreds of others in the process?

NewsBasis: A Startup for Journos, PR and Companies

NewsBasis is the brainchild of Darryl Siry, a freelance writer for Wired and, formerly, a marketing and sales exec at Tesla Motors.

With NewsBasis, his goal is to create an online marketplace where media organizations are matched up with other businesses that could help provide not just raw news, but could also serve as authoritative sources for more in-depth articles. More importantly, perhaps, is that it aims to connect the two in relevant ways.

“I think its easy for journalists to oversimplify the problem and just complain about ‘PR flacks,’ but I see the problem as a design issue,” Siry explains via blog post. “Companies very much want to get their message out, and they spend a lot to do this. It is just that the mechanisms that exist today are still relatively clumsy in that they don’t align the interests or business processes of both sides very effectively.”

New Twist on an Old Idea

The idea of linking up PR to journos more effectively isn’t entirely new. Peter Shankman’s competing service Help a Reporter Out (aka HARO) does much of the same thing today.

But what is new is the way the different parties connect. While on HARO, a journalist submits a question and receives email responses, NewsBasis offers a far more robust platform. At launch time, it will include a “request a response” feature similar to HARO’s, but will also offer a tool called “embedded point of views.”

In NewsBasis, journalists can search for articles on a particular subject from a real-time news stream of over 10,000 credible sources and create alerts on topics of interest. After selecting an article to read in NewsBasis, a sidebar appears to the right of the screen featuring these “embedded point of views” offered by other NewsBasis members. It’s like Google SideWiki just for journos or blog comments without the trolls.

Here, the point of views may offer additional information or clarify misleading information found in the article, all from sources whose credentials can help back up their statements.

Of course, some PR agencies will probably figure out how to spam these “point of views” sidebars, too, but at least then the comments will be obvious, unlike the shady missives appearing on blog posts where PR staff members pretend to be end users who really really like that new service a journalist just wrote about.

From this “point of views” sidebar, journalists can then reach out to those adding their insight and request a direct follow-up.

Sources Search Engine

NewsBasis also offers a “sources” search engine. Here, journalists can search the profiles and points of views for those who may have answers and information relating to a story a journalist is working on.

These features go far beyond what HARO or any other competing service offers today. And it makes it easier and faster for journalists to research and produce a news story for today’s 24/7 news cycle on the real-time Web.

It’s a smart idea and it’s free, at least for journalists. PR firms and companies will have to pay, although not at launch time.

NewsBasis raised $545,000 from Zelkova Ventures and individuals investors and is raising more capital now, according to the New York Times. Interested parties can sign up for a beta invite today.

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