News

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.

See the effect of your keywords, as you add them

Since we launched keywords for everyone, it’s become one of our most-used features, providing that extra bit of noise filtering from the main topic feeds.

When choosing your keyword selection, it was difficult to see the effect it would have had; there was no indicator as to how many recent enquiries your keywords would have matched. This lead to the unfortunate situation where a couple of customers ended with a set so niche, they matched nothing.

With this feedback in mind, our weekend development was to include on the keywords page, a banner which says how many enquiries over the past few days you’d have received, if they were in place:

As you add and remove keywords, you’ll get immediate feedback on the number of enquiries matched and if you’re interested in the detail, simply click the banner to see the enquiries in full.

It’s your feedback which helps direct our development, so let us know what’s working for you, and what isn’t, and we’ll see what we can do!

Broad topics of interest

One of the goals of Dot Star Media is to make journalist requests on social media work for you.

To help businesses achieve that aim, we watch social media channels for requests from bona fide journalists, we then classify those enquiries into one or more relevant topics and then fire them off into your email, MSTeams or Slack channels.

When we designed the registration system, our goal was to make it as simple as possible to start receiving these enquiries. To start a trial, all we required was a name, email, and company name (fun fact: the very first implementation was based around per-user subscriptions so we didn’t even ask for an organisation name. On review, we quickly decided that per-company billing was the way forward so we added the extra field. I know I’ve stretched the definition of ‘fun’ there, but hey).

One of the common bits of feedback was ‘we’ve had some great requests come through but there’s a lot which aren’t relevant too.’ and that’s because when signing up for a trial, by default we were subscribing you to all 29 topics.

Dan and I talked through various options and none of them were appealing. Adding 29 checkboxes to the registration page could intimidate some (including me; I’d take one look at a form like that and find somewhere else!)

We’ve settled on adding our broad topic groupings to the registration page and we feel this is a fair balance between usability and function:

So if you choose ‘Lifestyle’, you’ll get Fashion & Beauty through to Travel & Holidays. Of course, having registered you can always fine tune your topics, or even add some keyword filters to further target your feed.

Since we put this live, we’ve seen every single person customise their topic selections, compared to just one in ten before this so we’re confident this change is improving the service for new users.

Everyone gets keywords!

When we started developing the functionality for enquiry keyword filtering, we thought it should be a Gold level feature, providing our subscribers with more reason to upgrade to our even-more-featureful top level.

We launched the feature a few weeks ago and from talking to the many people using it as part of their subscriptions or trials – and using it ourselves – it quickly became clear: everyone should have access to this.

There’s a lot of noise on #journorequest. Some days, as much as 90% of what’s posted is irrelevant, or simply spam (analysis: Dot Star Media).

From today, we’re happy to make keyword filtering available to all subscribers so you can further harness the power of Twitter, without spending all day on twitter.

keyword filters

Filter your media enquiries with keywords

Your feedback on Dot Star Media Request Service has got us working eagerly behind the scenes to bring some improvements.

Social media is a great source for media requests but with the noise – spam, spoofs and suspicious characters alongside other irrelevant posts – it can quickly become overwhelming. On average there are ~1500 posts a day to #journorequest alone; of these around only 10-15% are genuine media requests from established journalists.

#journorequest signal to noise graph

The first thing Dot Star Media has done is reduce the noise. Simply by signing up to the service you can receive the quality 15% directly to your inbox, Slack or MS Teams, identified by the relevant topic.

Some companies have provided feedback saying that whilst these per-topic requests are great, there are still a lot of requests to sort through for relevance to their clients.

This weekend we’ve taken that feedback and implemented keyword filters within your subscribed topics, meaning you can streamline your requests even further by only emailing ones which contain keywords you’re looking for. This feature is available to our ‘gold’ level subscribers and those on a trial.

How could this work in practice? If your interest is specifically around gym equipment rather than general team sports, you can subscribe to ‘Sport & Leisure’ then add some relevant keywords – e.g. ‘gym’, ‘spin class’, ‘squat rack’ – and your inbox will only go ding when there’s a sports & leisure request mentioning those keywords.

You can start using the keyword filters right away, by clicking the link from your profile page.

keyword filters

Please let us know what you think of this new feature by sending us an email.

If you’re not currently a subscriber, register now to start receiving quality enquiries right away. If you’ve previous had a trial and would like to try out this new feature, send as an email and we’ll get you up and running again.

Receive media request alerts in Slack

Dot Star Media ‘gold’ tier subscribers can receive noise-free journalist request notifications in Slack.

Receiving media request notifications in a Slack channel offers some advantages over receiving alerts by email: delivery to Slack is quicker than email and it’s easier for your team to collaborate on the best way to respond to a request.

How to set up alerts in Slack

In the Slack application, add a new channel and call it something like ‘journalist-requests’. Once the channel is created press ‘Add an app’.

Search for ‘ Incoming WebHooks’ and press the install button. This will take you to the Incoming WebHooks app in the Slack App Directory.

Press the ‘Add to Slack’ button.

Choose the Slack channel you created earlier (or you can create a channel from here).

Slack will then provide a WebHook URL. Copy this URL to your clipboard.

Then, as an account administrator, visit the Dot Star Media website and navigate to the distribution channels page. Paste in the endpoint URL created in the previous step. Click the checkbox to enable the service.

You’ll now receive journalist requests in Slack, making it easier to work on replies with your colleagues. Please let us know if you would like support setting this up or if you have any feedback on receiving requests in Slack.

Receive media request alerts in Microsoft Teams

Dot Star Media ‘gold’ tier subscribers can receive journalist request notifications in Microsoft Teams.

Receiving media request notifications in a Microsoft Teams channel offers some advantages over receiving alerts by email: delivery to Teams is quicker than email and it’s easier for your team to collaborate on the best way to respond to a request.

How to set up alerts in Microsoft Teams

1. In Microsoft Teams create a new (or choose an existing) team to place a ‘Dot Star Media’ channel in and add a new channel for Dot Star Media request notifications.

In the newly created Dot Star Media Requests channel click the three dots to the right of the channel name, click on ‘Connectors’ and search for and add an ‘Incoming Webhook’ connector.

2. Provide a name for your webhook, upload in image if you wish, and press ‘create’ to create a webhook URL. Copy the webhook URL for pasting into the distribution channels page on the Dot Star Media application.

3. Now visit the Dot Star Media website and log in. You’ll need to be an account administrator. Visit the distribution channels page and paste in the endpoint URL created in the previous step. Click the checkbox to enable the new endpoint.

4. You’ll now receive journalist requests in Microsoft Teams, making it even easier to work on replies with your colleagues. Please let us know if you would like support setting this up or if you have any feedback on receiving requests in Microsoft Teams.


Hello, world!

Hello! Dot Star Media launched today.

Have you ever missed out on a good media request?

Journalists use Twitter to post media requests all the time – but the platform can be noisy and chaotic for both journalists and sources. This can make identifying the best media coverage opportunities a difficult and time consuming task. Both businesses and the media can miss out as a result, and we want to help fix that.

Making media request monitoring less of an effort

Our aim is to provide an efficient way of monitoring, receiving and responding to the best requests on Twitter without having to spend hours wading through Twitter noise and spam. We’re solving this with a blend of automation technology and human oversight to identify, classify and deliver quality media coverage opportunities from verified journalists – at warp speed.

Helping journalists

Making it easier, and quicker, for communications professionals to find and respond to journalist requests helps journalists from outlets like this get their jobs done.

We’re on Twitter at TheDotStarMedia

Dan and Jonathan.