When your interest is in a specialist subject, or you have niche clients to promote, our individual topics can deliver a range of journalist requests that is too broad for your needs.
For example, a wildlife conservation charity may find requests delivered in the ‘Pets & Animals’ topic deliver domestic dog and cat related requests that aren’t relevant for them. In these situations we recommend keyword filtering to improve the relevancy ratio of journalist requests received.
The wildlife conservation charity could enter a long list of relevant keywords around the topic of conservation and only receive journalist requests that include one of their keywords. A simple keyword list could look like this:
Basic keyword filtering works by matching from the beginning of a word. For example, ‘restaurant’ would match ‘restaurant‘, ‘restaurants’ and ‘restauranter’. But the keyword ‘restaurants’ wouldn’t alert on a request including the word ‘restaurant’. So it’s important to take care when entering keywords, and think about the words entered.
Using regular expressions
In some sectors, like science and technology, acronyms are popular. Filtering on acronyms can return false positives. Take ‘artificial intelligence’, which can appear in requests as the acronym ‘AI’ or ‘#AI’ or ‘AI/ML’. If you use the simple keyword of ‘AI’ you would also receive matches on words that begin with ‘ai’, such as ‘aircraft’, ‘aim’, ‘aid’.
To get round this we have enabled regular expressions on the keyword search. In the image below the word ‘ai’ is given a word boundary, allowing us to perform a whole word search. This stops alerts on ‘airport’, but continues to alert on ‘AI’.
Usefully, the word boundary ignores non-word characters such as slashes and hashtags, so this will still trigger alerts for mentions of ‘AI’ when it appears as ‘AI/ML’ or ‘#AI’, like this request:
Some people find regular expressions are fun, and this includes the team at Dot Star Media. We’re happy to provide support and advice on getting your keywords working well. If we can help – please get in touch.
We’re pleased that Josef Tyler has agreed to join our team to help us deliver the best possible journalist request service for media professionals submitting enquiries and for subscribers receiving alerts.
Josef joins us from the well regarded (but now closed) JournoRequests.com service where he gained deep experience looking after media request selection and moderation.
Joe joining the team helps progress our plan to use the latest technology to build a modern media request service with these aims in mind:
In the Dot Star Media laboratories, we’re always trying new experiments to see what we can do to improve the relevance of enquiries you receive. Most don’t see light of day – rigorous testing disproves many theories. Sometimes, however, the results are good enough that they’re added for customers to use.
A recent theory was that follower count could be used as a rough proxy of how well a journalist is established, and their influence. With the idea that some organisations would prefer to respond to enquiries from more established journalists than those new to the beat. This idea was given some further weight with some feedback received on the service.
We’ve added a new subscriber filter option. The ‘journalist follower threshold’ allows a subscriber to filter journalist request alerts based on the number of followers a journalist has. It looks remarkably like this:
You may well be wondering what sort of effect this would have on the number of alerts received, so we spent time doing some calculations and produced a graph which demonstrates how effective this can be:
If you want to see the impact of each setting with your topics and keywords, choose a new journalist follower threshold and click ‘save’; you will then see how many requests would have come your way in the previous week:
There are exceptions to the theory: specialist trade journalists, for example, so it’ll be a personal choice based on your circumstances ultimately.
Keyword filters make your Dot Star Media journalist request feed more relevant by removing requests that don’t contain one of your keywords. Used well, keyword filtering will save you many hours a month.
The trouble is, choosing what your actual keywords should be isn’t always easy. If you don’t have the right keywords, you might miss out on relevant requests.
A subscriber asked us yesterday how they could test to see if they had missed out on any requests because of their keywords. We wanted to provide a straightforward way of doing this, so today have added a filter toggle to the Recent Enquiries page.
Clicking the keyword filter button shows all the requests that would have been delivered without your keyword filtering in place.
This makes it easy to see if you have missed any requests due to keyword filtering. You can scan through these requests to identify words to add to, and improve, your keyword list.
To see if the Dot Star Media request service might work for your business please register for a self-service no obligation free trial.
Connect with a large and diverse network of sources
Dot Star Media has built a large and diverse network of sources who can help journalists with their stories. Today there are over 600 organisations receiving requests. Journalists can use Dot Star Media to easily – and rapidly – ask questions and receive comment from hundreds of businesses, PRs, universities, and charities.
How journalists reach the Dot Star Media network
Subscribing organisations receive alerts by email or straight into their Slack or MSTeams software. We send thousands of individual alerts every day. Journalists wanting to connect with the Dot Star Media network can do so in two ways:
Include the hashtag #journorequest in your tweet. This makes it simple for anyone following the hashtag individually, and the various PR networks, including Dot Star Media, to pick up your request.
Submit a direct journalist enquiry
For requests that are too detailed for Twitter, or to simply access the Dot Star Media network outside of Twitter you can submit journalist requests directly using this media request form.
For security and efficiency, we won’t distribute your request until you have confirmed your email address via a ‘magic link’, so that replies go straight to you.
Journorequest process diagram
This diagram summarises the system. Replies from sources to the journalist are made by email or Twitter. We don’t intercept or interfere in the reply process. We simply connect journalists with sources, and then get out of the way.
Graphic made with PowerPoint! – design not my strongest skill. Please get in touch us with any questions about how the Dot Star Media journalist enquiry service works.
We reached a new milestone last week: Over 500 different organisations – commercial, academic and not-for-profit – have now registered to receive journalists requests submitted through the Dot Star Media request form. New organisations are joining every week.
Building a diverse and representative network
The media works better when it represents a wide range of sources and journalists tell us that they want to hear from diverse voices. Our aim is to provide a service that meets the needs of the journalists submitting media requests just as much as it meets the needs of the organisations receiving them.
For this reason we’re committed to providing journalists with access to a diverse range of sources from a well-balanced network of recipients drawn from commercial, academic and not-for-profit organisations.
We’re attracting commercial businesses and academic institutions by offering fairly priced flexible subscriptions. Registered sources can switch topics when they please and to stop and start monthly subscriptions according to their current requirements.
To give not-for-profits an equal footing in accessing to journalist requests, and to help charities get their voice heard, we are providing the media request service to qualifying registered charities completely free of charge under our charities initiative.
Sending a journalist request
If you’re a journalist and would like to send a request to the Dot Star Media network, use the journalist enquiry submit form. It’s free to submit requests.
When running a company like Dot Star Media, it’s impossible to get away from needing to run servers – quite a few servers. We have the corporate site (you’re on it now), we have the application site, and we have quite a few mailers to help you receive your enquiries within about 30 seconds of them appearing on social media.
At Dot Star Media, we care about our impact on society and the environment.
For society, we’re incredibly proud of our charity initiative, which is helping nearly 200 charities get media coverage for their causes.
For the environment, we pledge a percentage of our net profits each year to green causes but want to do more where we can. So this weekend we’re moving our entire hosting environment over to a new hosting provider – Hetzner Online.
When Dot Star Media was merely a twinkle in our eye, we decided it was to be ’email first’ and that there should be few reasons the website had to be used. This drove our design for super-fast email delivery (30 seconds, on average), and straight forward configuring of profile settings.
While over 90% of our customers use email primarily for their alerts (and that being the reason so many have been able to secure media coverage – they arrive so damn quickly!) some do prefer to keep an eye on the recent enquiries page instead, or take one of our digests.
However, as features were developed – especially keyword filtering – and closely integrated with the email alerts and the recent enquiries pages, we wanted a way for people to be able to search for journalist requests which fall outside of their keywords. Perhaps you’re taking on a new client whose interests fall outside of your existing remits – being able to search the archive of requests is massively useful in helping pick your keywords!
Having access to the archive opens up other opportunities. It’s easy to search for journalists who write about certain topics – and the enquiries will be enriched with additional information where we have it. Further more, as our enquiries are only from verified journalists, we’ve removed the significant noise component of searching directly on social media.
So that’s our most recent development. Search. Super simple (single word/phrase search) with choice of how far back you want to look. Currently available from the top of the search bar:
Your new client, Snuffles the Singing Cat, has engaged your services to boost their media profile. They’re interested in providing expert comment on anything singing-cat related, and have a particular interest in Broadway shows – after all, they did study at the BRIT school!
You’re confident that with the help of Dot Star Media, you can keep an eye out for journalist requests which are relevant for Snuffles, and with the power of instant alerts, you can do it without spending all day on Twitter!
You choose your topics – Pets & Animals, of course, and perhaps Entertainment & the Arts – and throw in some glorious cat related keywords (and enhance them with the AI suggested options to be even more effective). Then with a glass of kale juice, you sit back and wait for the opportunities to present themselves.
Gah, what’s this?! You keep receiving requests from Jonathan Griffiths who’s writing for the ‘Cats and Guinea Pigs In Industry’ magazine. From checking his profile, you’re confident these requests will never be relevant. What can you do?
This is the sort of user story which keeps Dan and I awake at night. How can we help make the requests you receive more relevant to your interests? Topics and keywords go a long way, but sometimes more is needed.
Today we’re happy to make this a reality and we’ve added the ability to unsubscribe from requests from specific journalists. By simply clicking on the link at the bottom of one of their requests, they’ll be added to your exclusion list and you’ll never hear from them again:
Added someone by mistake? Click the trash-can by their name and you’ll receive their enquiries again. It is that simple:
It’s been two months since we launched the free journalist enquiry service for charities initiative. The uptake has been even better than we expected. As of today 178 UK registered charities are receiving journalist request notifications – with new charities joining every day.
Media coverage opportunities
We’ve had some great feedback, for example: “Dot Star Media offers a simple, user friendly service which has allowed us to identify opportunities for our campaigns, which we were previously unable to benefit from due to limited resource to search for opportunities” – Franchesca Allen, Macmillan Cancer Support.
Charities often support a single and specific cause. When it comes to monitoring #journorequest (and other hashtags and tweets by journalists) for media coverage opportunities, having a focus on a specific cause inevitably means that most requests are irrelevant. The keyword filtering option “is great because it aggregates all the journalist requests that are specifically relevant to you, so you don’t have to trawl through Twitter and wade through irrelevant content.” – Sarah Swaysland, The Volunteer idea
Journalists seeking comment
Journalists seeking comment from charities – and other organisations, such as universities, PR firms and businesses – can submit detailed and direct requests for free using this submit form: dotstar.media/submit (we also scan Twitter for requests posted there)