NewsBasis: Death to the bad PR pitch!

NewsBasis, the startup aiming to make communication between journalists and the companies they cover smooth as butter, is launching a new media-relations service today that hopes to bring publicity to small companies which can’t afford a professional PR firm’s monthly retainer.

Content publishers who are overwhelmed with the rigid PR apparatus that spews an unstoppable torrent of unfiltered pitches and cold calls may also benefit.

Brevity is a key feature: NewsBasis allows companies and organizations, PR agencies, and experts to pitch stories in 280 characters or less, the length of two posts on Twitter. In its new Content Development Exchange, the service automatically promotes stories to relevant content publishers who can then easily follow up if they’re interested.

Launched in August of this year and already in use by the staff members of major news organizations like the New York Times, CNN, AOL, and the Huffington Post, NewsBasis is currently based around content publishers making media requests and company reps directly responding to them.

While currently in beta and free for all members, the company will eventually charge a subscription fee for the companies that enlist its services, remaining free for journalists. Similar to this main revenue model, the new features will charge companies to promote stories, most likely on a per-day basis (for however many days it’s in rotation). In this manner, companies get the flexibility to “turn stories on or off, or run a bunch at once if they want,” according to founder and CEO Darryl Siry, who added that other premium services and products are in the works as well. These may include detailed analytics packages, targeted media, and the like.

Siry, who was inspired by his media relations experience as the former senior vice president of marketing and sales at Tesla Motors, believes there’s a market opportunity nearly $2 billion large (by his own account) in serving the millions of such small and specialized businesses that are currently underserved by PR firms that commonly require a $3,000-5,000 monthly retainer, way above these businesses’ threshold.

As a VentureBeat contributor, I have used NewsBasis to make requests for my own story pitches. Reps from the company side quickly responded with the clever angles and insights I needed to beef up my piece. I basically crowdsourced my story angles. Based off the few request workflows I’ve initiated so far, the feedback has been phenomenal.

I haven’t witnessed what some might call “A-list” Silicon Valley respondents, like some of the activity on Q&A site Quora, but it’s still made my job as a journalist a lot easier. Instead of hunting through a rolodex, trying to find the right people to contact, and then reaching out one by one, the NewsBasis model let me cast a wide net and get responses I needed quickly (which matters when you’re on deadline)!

Similar to how the company allows for media request crowdsourcing, this new feature will hopefully provide a similar disruption to the company-side of the equation: bringing flexibility to a world of rigid press releases and email pitches (which, like many others in the industry, our own editor Owen Thomas has a gripe or two with). If early experiences with the original NewsBasis service by myself and other journalists can prove a useful measure, this new feature will bring much value to small companies who need PR tools on the cheap and swamped publishers who are overwhelmed with the stagnantly rigid PR apparatus.