Jun 20, 2017 / by Russ Somers

Sometimes a perfect storm comes together to signal that a technology is about to die - or undergo a radical shift or rebirth. Often that perfect storm takes the form of three elements coming together at the same time. Change is typically driven from a combination of technological, social, and economic factors. When all three come together, change is inevitable.

We’ve seen this happen recently with cable providers, as “cord-cutters” (people who watch television solely over the internet, without a cable subscription) have become a force and cut massively into cable revenues. The three factors driving cord-cutting come down to:

  • Technological factors: Increasing internet bandwidth made possible the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, and the proliferation of connected devices from phones to tablets to connected TVs made it easy to get our entertainment fix that way.
  • Social factors: I can’t avoid the M-word (Millennial) here. Driven by the eminent pragmatism of a generation that doesn’t want to pay for 200 cable channels when they use only a handful, the Millennial generation has made cord-cutting the norm. Thanks to that behavior, one in five households has now cut the cord.
  • Economic factors: The average cost of a cable subscription is up to $103 per month, Hulu and Netflix, in contrast, is as low as $7.99 per month.


Any one of these factors, by itself, could have caused trouble for the cable TV industry. Taken together, they mean that the industry has to reinvent itself or face irrelevance. Those services that do survive and thrive - like Netflix and Hulu - tend to take a very different form than their predecessors by turning those disruptive market forces into competitive advantages.

So what does that Technological/Social/Economic triad of disruptive factors have to do with a PR professional? Well, I would argue that a similar set of factors is disrupting the PR software space - specifically, media contact databases. Those three factors are:

  • Technological factors: In this case, the technology has simply not kept up with our real-time world. In traditional static contact databases, data decays at a rate of 30% per year due to people changing jobs, addresses, and more. Based on those numbers, If you had a media contact database of 100,000 journalists on January 1st, and emailed them a holiday card at the end of the year, 30,000 of those emailed cards wouldn’t reach their intended recipients.
  • Social: As we’ve written before, PR professionals now outnumber journalists five to one. Your target journalists in a traditional media contact database now get dozens or hundreds of pitches per day. The numbers are simply stacked against you now. It’s not getting better, as the number of journalists is expected to decline by 9% over the next ten years.
  • Economic: The economic factors combine to exacerbate the problem of “the economics of attention.” The social changes mean that there are ever fewer, and ever-more-outnumbered, journalists to target. The technological changes mean that reaching them is harder than ever. That leads some PR pros to act like spammers, desperately chasing diminishing returns, and further eroding the trust between PR pros and journalists.

The Traditional Media Database is Dead

The perfect storm of technological, social, and economic factors tells us that the days of the traditional media contact database are ending, and it’s time for something new. What will that new alternative to a media contact database look like?

We think that new alternative will be based on analytics and big data, rather than legacy technology. We think that new alternative will allow you to target based on what journalists and influencers are actually writing about, rather than based on static filters and categories. We think that new alternative will enable you to understand which journalists and influencers have the most impact on the story you’re telling, based on Article Impact, SEO impact, Social Amplification, and other criteria. And we think that new alternative will give you the tools to radically increase your chances by reaching out in a personalized, relevant way.

We know the new alternative. Welcome to Pinpoint Contacts: the solution to uncover journalists with a personalized discovery engine, pinpointing the right contacts for specific topics and campaigns AND leveraging analytics never seen before on a journalist level.

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