News

Cats in Industry (or how to block individual journalists)

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:

Exlude journalist from media request feed
It’s easy to exclude specific submitters from your journalist enquiry feed

Added someone by mistake? Click the trash-can by their name and you’ll receive their enquiries again. It is that simple:

Manage journalist request exclusions
Full control over your personal journalist enquiry feed

Journalist requests for charities

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.

More feedback on the Dot Star Media ‘for charities’ page.

Keyword filtering saves time

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)

Charities looking for media coverage

Charities interested in trying the service for themselves can register here: dotstar.media/charities



Our new home on Twitter

We have a new home on Twitter!

After six months of perseverance with Twitter’s support staff, we were finally able to have @DotStarMedia transferred over to us on Saturday:

There was much rejoicing at Dot Star Media HQ.

If you were following us, no action is needed: you’ll receive the same quality content as before. If you’re not yet following us, now’s a great time to do so.

Journalists can now send requests on Dot Star Media

The next step for Dot Star Media is providing an option for journalists who want to contact our growing network of charities, universities, businesses and public relations agencies without having to post requests on social media.

A direct journalist enquiry form means that journalists who want to send more detailed briefs than Twitter allows, or prefer to avoid the public nature of social media, can use Dot Star Media directly. The form is ready to use here: dotstar.media/submit

We know that building up a network of journalists will take time. While we promote the new service to journalists and build request volumes we have decided to distribute direct requests free of charge to all subscribers. The instant request notifications sourced from social media are still only available with a Dot Star Media subscription.

To receive Dot Star Media requests register at https://dotstar.media/register

Journalists can submit direct requests at https://dotstar.media/submit

Dot Star Media progress update

Just a few months after launch Dot Star Media has improved the way organisations monitor social media for journalist requests. We’re helping hundreds of individual subscribers jump on the ‘quick reaction’ media opportunities available on Twitter, without spending all day on Twitter.

Innovation in media requests

We’re also pleased to have introduced these innovations to the journalist enquiry service market:

We will continue to work with subscribers when developing further improvements.

Charity initiative

What Jonathan and I are most proud of, however, is the free ‘media request service for charities’ initiative. This is making a real and positive difference to the media relations activities of over 100 qualifying charities. Franchesca Allen from the press office at Macmillan Cancer Support said:

“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. It’s also allowed us to create and build new media relationships across consumer titles such as Refinery29, LadBible and VICE.”

Join us

To try Dot Star Media for yourself please register at https://dotstar.media/register

Keyword filtering comes to MS Teams and Slack

Keyword filtering is a powerful way of streamlining exactly which requests make it into your mailbox. It’s a feature we added just a week after launching, and is incredibly popular with our customers who have email alerts enabled.

As well as email alerts – an industry staple for decades – Dot Star Media has pioneered the use of the workflow management tools MS Teams and Slack as a delivery mechanism, and it’s growing in popularity amongst our users.

Because these delivery methods are at the organisation level, they were developed only with topic filtering in mind; keywords were not considered appropriate at the global (organisation) level.

From the feedback we received, this was an incorrect assumption! Keywords are desirable when using workflow management tools.

So (and you must have known this was coming): You spoke, and we listened.

Organisation keywords are here! The page looks remarkably like your personal keyword page and it works in the same way. The only difference is the keywords entered are only used for enquiries which are delivered via MS Teams and Slack. This does make it a Gold level only feature:

While talking about keyword filtering, we have some articles on the importance of a good list, and seeing how effective your keywords are which may be of interest.

We love getting feedback about these developments. It’s your feedback which helps us plan the future of this service so please let us know what’s important to you.

Embracing AI with keyword suggestions for journalist requests

Since we opened up keyword filtering for everyone, nearly 25% of our customers are using the feature. It’s an incredibly powerful way to streamline the journalist requests you receive in your mailbox.

However, there are challenges to crafting a good keyword list: not everyone thinks the way you do.

For example: Perhaps you or your client are in the vodka making business. You’re eager to hear about opportunities for your latest summer blend, you add a keyword of ‘vodka’ to your keyword filter.

A few days later, a request comes in through Twitter which would be PERFECT for you:

Sadly it doesn’t include your magic word, so the opportunity never hits your mailbox. Gah! If only you’d thought to add ‘drink’ too.

This problem has been on our minds a lot – we’ve spent time with a number of clients working on their lists and we thought there must be a better way to do this. So we’ve been hard at work in the Dot Star Media Laboratory seeing what we can conjure up to help everyone in this situation. We think it’s ready for Prime Time and so it’s just gone live.

From today, when you add a keyword to your list, you’ll see some suggestions presented:

If you like the suggestions, add them. If not, they can be ignored. Every time you add a keyword, the total number of matching enquiries from the previous week will be displayed so you can see how effective it’ll be:

Now for the small print: We use a AI-Powered Semantic Network Robot for determining related words. Usually it does a good job, but sometimes it takes a tea-break or engages ‘Friday Mode’ and will return some silly answers. C’est la vie.*

*(if anything particularly incongruous comes up, let us know on hello@dotstar.media – there might not be much we can do but all feedback helps us develop new features for you).

Whitelisting Dot Star Media

If you’re not so interested in the brief history of email delivery, we have a summary of what you should do if you’re a client available here.

On the surface, email may seem simple. You type out a message, you put in a recipient, if you’re not a Person-Of-Mystery, you’ll put a relevant subject too and click ‘send’. A few seconds later, as if by magic, your recipient hears: ‘You’ve got mail!’.

Give or take a few technical details, that’s how it used to work. It was relatively simple, and many companies ran their own email servers, and many slightly-technically-inclined people would run their own personal email server for fun – and it was good fun.

But then came the spammers (and worse). They used every trick under the sun to get you to read their emails. They’d send an email and pretend to be someone else – possibly even someone you knew – and before you knew it, as much as 90% of all email going through the pipes was spam:

image courtesy of Atlas

Something had to be done. In fact, many things were done. Over the years we saw the introduction of:

  • Sender Policy Framework (aka SPF) which told the world which email servers were allowed to send email for a specific domain.
  • Grey Listing relies on spammers being lazy and trying to send an email once and then giving up. A grey list server temporarily rejects the first email from a server for a given recipient, accepting it on subsequent attempts.
  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (aka DKIM) digitally signed each email in a way which could be checked by the receiving email server to confirm it was genuinely from the owner of the sending domain.
  • Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (aka DMARC) uses a combination of SPF and DKIM to allow a receiving mail server to verify the source of the email.
  • Heuristics are used in many ways. Some apply statistical techniques to looking at an email and seeing how ‘spammy’ it is, others are based on how many messages are coming from an unknown mail server, things like that.

Dot Star Media have implemented SPF, DKIM and DMARC, but the one out of our control is heuristics – after all, we’re taking enquiries written by journalists and distributing them to you. Few people are versed in how to write something which doesn’t trigger a spam filter.

Fortunately, there’s one super easy way for you to help get our requests into your mailbox:

Whitelisting!

By ‘whitelisting’ Dot Star Media, you’re explicitly telling your email provider that you want to receive our email. That’s it. It’s entirely free and quick and easy to do. The email addresses to whitelist are hello@dotstar.media and notification@dotstar.media.

Each email client has its own way to do this and the Whitelist Guide contains most of them. Here are the quick links for Gmail or Outlook users.

Free journalist request service for charities

Jonathan and I are really happy that we’ve already reached a stage where we can provide Dot Star Media service to charities free of charge.

At the risk of sounding cheesy, we both want Dot Star Media to make a difference in the world. Everyone benefits from the amazing work of charities (some areas that are especially close to our hearts are education, health and the environment). So – although we’re a new business and still have a lot of growing to do – we’re taking the opportunity to give something back as soon as we can.

If you’re a press officer at a charity in the UK or Ireland, you can find out more about why we’re doing this and how your charity can benefit here: https://dotstar.media/charities/. We’d love to hear what you think of the service.

For more detail, here’s the text of a press release we sent out today.


Dot Star Media launches free journalist request service for charities

Monday 12 April 2021

Media request monitoring and alerting service Dot Star Media announced today that it is making its service free of charge to UK and Irish registered charities.

Charity press officers use the Dot Star Media request service to receive and respond to journalist requests for comments, quotes, case studies and statistics for news articles and features.

Journalists and the media benefit from a media request service that provides access to a wide range of sources with a good balance of commercial and not-for-profit organisations participating.

Charities will have access to the full set of features, which include keyword filtering, digest options and delivery to Slack or Microsoft Teams. Dot Star Media allows charity press teams to receive a relevant feed of journalist request notifications without having to spend hours scouring social media.

Dan Griffiths, co-founder, said: “Journalists tell us they need a diverse range of voices. Charities (especially smaller ones) are often denied a voice because they can’t afford the fees for traditional media request services. By offering Dot Star Media free to registered charities, we want to make a difference to as many people as possible.”

Jonathan Tullett, co-founder, said: “Right from the beginning, we pledged a percentage of Dot Star Media’s profits to green causes, because we want to build a socially and environmentally conscientious organisation. I strongly feel we should always be trying to do more and this is another step towards that goal.”

Free access to Dot Star Media for charities will initially be limited to the first 1,000 qualifying charities registering.

Registered charities can sign up to try the service at https://dotstar.media/charities/

About Dot Star Media

Dot Star Media supports professional journalists and broadcasters by distributing their media requests to a diverse range of organisations. Charities, universities, businesses, and public relations professionals all benefit from an efficient way of monitoring, receiving, and responding to the best journalist requests shared on social media – without having to spend hours wading through noise and spam. The company was established in January 2021 by PRTech industry veterans Jonathan Tullett and Dan Griffiths. For more information visit https://dotstar.media/about


Journalist request digest

It’s been a few weeks since our last ‘you spoke, and we listened,’ post, so we’ve made this one a corker!

Here at Dot Star Media Studios, we’ve been going on and on about how much noise and spam there is on the wonderful journorequest hashtag, along with all the real gems. In the last seven days, there were 2011 ‘requests’ (that’s excluding the 6029 retweets!). Just 441 of those passed the Dot Star Media Litmus Test Of Greatness. Here’s one of our graphs to help you visualise:

With our ‘real-time alert’ emails, one request equals one email. This is superb for the hot-off-the-press nature of most journalist requests. It’s also perfect if you want to be at the head of the queue with your response. However, some of our subscribers told us ‘the service is great, but I can’t deal with so many emails!’ 

You can of course reduce this substantially by using selective topics and adding some relevant keywords. All the same, some customers were still wanting…well, less.

So, you spoke, and we listened! Dan and I are delighted to introduce Journalist Enquiry Digests. These are groups of enquiries – filtered to your topics and keywords, of course – presented in a single email and sent at pre-determined times. They look a lot like this:

The digest settings are available on your profile page, and look like this:

This should cater for even the busiest people. By the way, the morning digest includes all requests since the previous day’s last email, so you won’t miss any of the overnight action.

As always, we’d be delighted to know what you think so please send us an email, or call.

If you’ve previously had a trial but want to check this out, please drop us a line and we’ll get you set up with another brand new, totally free, no obligation trial.