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.

BlogDash profile - Tamar WeinbergThe 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.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

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  • http://www.scribnia.com/author/show/473/david-spinks/ David Spinks

    Jason,

    You're the man. Thank you so much for taking the time to test the tool with us and provide honest feedback. It's exactly what we need.

    We're aware of our weak points, thanks to our testers. Improving the data and size of our database is our #1 priority, and I think you'll see that over the next few weeks and months.

    Email is a tricky one. The reason so many journalists hate the traditional media databases is because it makes it easy for them to be spammed. BlogDash was built to make sure it's valuable for bloggers too. We will give away emails when it's publicly available, or when the blogger provides it after joining.

    Keep in mind, without promoting blogdash to bloggers at all, we've had over 300 sign up and claim their profile. If this is a tool that bloggers truly need (we think it is) we hope to provide the information that you said you'd like to see here.

    Thanks again for the honest and kind write-up. I promise not to let you down.

    David
    Co-Founder, BlogDash

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      And this my friends (for those reading the comments) is why BlogDash has a

      high probability of being a major player in this space. Thanks, David.

  • http://mytwittertoolbox.com David Perdew

    Thanks for the coverage on this, Jason. As you say, it would be a nice tool for internet marketers and list building, if the contact information were there as well as the rest. I do see David Spinks' point about protecting his members, but the ones that are interested in engaging for business probably wouldn't mind giving an email addy away to be more relevant to users of the service.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Fair feedback! Thanks, David.

    • http://www.scribnia.com/author/show/473/david-spinks/ David Spinks

      That's our thinking exactly. I think you'll see email addresses showing up a lot very soon.

  • Sgosselin

    Interesting. Like that someone is trying to improve upon the whole list building enterprise. Nothing gets us pr people worked up more than a new list building tool. This is primarily because we hate our list building tools. (Though it's gotten a whole lot better lately.) I've worked extensively with Vocus, Cision and MyMediaInfo, all of which have their advantages and disadvantages. I think BlogDash will have to work a lot harder to be a real alternative. Call me old-fashioned, but I have been a lot more successful and effective with bloggers with a good, old-school google search. These people are hardly hiding under rocks. Google the topics that pertain to your business. Find the bloggers. READ THEIR BLOGS. Figure out who the least crazy ones are and pitch them directly. You can tell from their sites who wants to talk to you and who doesn't. Blast pitching bloggers can be hazardous to your health. They'll hand you your head on a plate, probably with a nice piece of parsley. It's not an automated kind of thing. And the monthly charge is pretty darn steep, to only give you a partial solution. Nonetheless, I totally applaud the work BlogDash is doing, and would really love to see some of the functionality they offered in a total tool solution. They've obviously got the right idea.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Great, practical feedback for them, Susan. David will take notes, I'm sure.

    • http://www.scribnia.com/author/show/473/david-spinks/ David Spinks

      Amazing feedback Susan. I'm with you on pretty much everything you've said.

      I think in a perfect world, all PR professionals would perform due diligence when doing blogger outreach. In this case, yes it takes time but you're doing it the right way. You're reading the blog posts, you're researching the blogger and taking the time to craft a personalized message when the time is right.

      Unfortunately, this is far from how most PR pros are doing blogger outreach today. I think the number one reason is time. They're lazy and doing all of this manual work takes a lot of time and effort. The traditional media databases and PR management tools like cision, vocus etc… have taught PR pros that it's okay to be lazy. Mass messaging and spam from these databases is what caused the PR/Blogger relationship to struggle all these years.

      The concept behind blogdash is to take away the manual labor of finding bloggers, gathering data, plugging it into an excel sheet, rss reader, google alert, twitter list, etc etc etc… It allows PR pros to focus their time on what matters, learning who the blogger is and what they right about, and building a relationship. No spam, no mass messaging, ever.

      While it's a partial solution to start, we plan to accommodate for the entire blogger outreach process soon. Finding, researching, engaging, pitching and tracking.

      I can't wait to get your feedback and I hope that you'll relate to the problems we are trying to solve.

      Cheers!

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    Its looking nice. And as fair feedback from you Jason, I think its really a cool tool for internet marketers. And yes its beta version has some issues but its OK because the tool itself makes a big promise for successful marketing purpose. Thanks Jason for this!!!

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