Few in PR had ever heard of Notified or its parent company. So, it wasn’t surprising that few paid attention when a US-based company acquired Notified last April.
Yet if the name rings a bell, the company has been working on its awareness. Its parent company has re-branded, rolled out integrations to other PR tech products it has acquired, and formally launched Notified in the US at a PR conference late last year.
Recently, I had a chance to view a web demonstration of the product and ask some questions. What I saw was quite impressive. It’s the basis for this PR tech briefing.
(click any image for higher resolution)
1) Overview of Notified.
Notified presents five common functions PR professionals are often tasked with carrying out. Notified calls these functions – listen, connect, publish amplify and measure.
- Listen is where you establish searches and monitor media, including social media;
- Connect is the media contacts database – with an interesting twist;
- Publish allows you to publish releases, blogs and send pitches;
- Amplify allows you to showcase user generated content – like social media posts; and
- Measure is the dashboard and analytics.
You can see these five functions in the menu of the screenshots I’ve provided with this brief. The names and nomenclature make sense to me as a potential user, both from a messaging and product perspective, and so I reference these functions throughout.
Users access these functions by logging into the product through a web browser. The user interface looks modern and seems well design; it’s intuitive in product parlance. Each of the five major features are well integrated and seem to facilitate the natural flow of PR work.
The presenter used Shake Shack (NYSE: SHAK), a popular fast-casual restaurant, that started out as a hotdog cart in Madison Square Park in 2001 and went IPO in 2015, as an object of the demo.
2) Listen: simple searches and monitoring.
Notified allows you to monitor all the major social media sites and online news sources. This includes blogs, discussions and other formats. The company subscribes to the Twitter “firehose” and has integrations with the likes of LexisNexis, and others, which allows you to search premium news.
The company says it provides coverage in 150 different countries and includes millions of sources. It also allows you to search back in time for “years” where other monitoring systems place limits on how far back in time you can search. I’ve seen 30-day and 180-day limits in several other media monitoring products
Searches are easy to set up and Notified gives users the ability to toggle between two search options. There is a form view where you enter keywords or a Boolean view for more advanced users.
Here’s the form view – simple and easy:
The Boolean view is shown below. This is for sophisticated searchers that need to add precision to their searches or eliminate noise.
The system displays monitoring results in chronological order and shows you basic metrics like volume and reach. Almost everything you see on the screen is interactive, which allows you to drill down, zoom back up, modify search terms or sort the results as you wish. For example, you can sort results by the level of engagement or reach.
Below is a view of the sidebar that enables you to modify search terms. This makes modifications a little easier and faster since some monitoring tools require you to click back out into a separate tab to adjust the findings. If you spend a lot of time in these systems, a little thing like clicking around becomes tedious and time-consuming.
3) Connect: beyond a media contact database.
The media contacts section works completely differently than any other solution that I’ve seen on the market. It’s not a database that Notified maintains, but rather the solution is surfacing the contact information based on searches you’ve set up.
If you set up a search for your organization, Notified will surface reporters and influencers that have written about you. If you set up a search for your competitors, or related topics around your industry, Notified surfaces reporters and influencers for those terms too.
Check it out here:
If you’ve ever used Google to search for news and then used a browser plugin like Hunter.io too search for their email address – Notified is automating that process. Then they take it a step further, in the screenshot above, you’ll also notice contacts are tagged. This is done automatically by artificial intelligence (AI) that Notified has running in the background. It allows Notified to suggest additional contacts you haven’t reached but should be based on the combination of your search terms and the reporter’s coverage:
Now if you manage your own contacts, you can import a list you’ve created, like an Excel file, for example. In addition, Notified told me they expect to add a traditional media database as another option sometime in early 2020.
4) Publish: multi-option distribution and publishing.
The publish tab is for your own news and content. You can do several things from this tab:
- Email a pitch or press release to contacts;
- Send a press release over a distribution network like GlobeNewswire;
- Publish a press release to an online newsroom;
- Publish a new post to a blog; or
- Re-publish (links) 3rd party coverage to an online newsroom.
In some cases, you can do several of these activities at once. For example, you can send a release to contacts, over a newswire and publish it to your online newsroom within the same menu. Importantly, press release distribution – over GlobeNewswire – costs more.
Below what that looks like. The “lalallala” text is merely a little demonstration by the presenter of the ability to customize the message:
If you chose to send a pitch or release, Notified provides basic analytics:
You can publish content to a website, subdomain or to an API. Notified has several templates for you to choose from – for newsrooms and showcase pages – which lets you get started quickly. This provides you with the flexibility to decide where you want what content to be displayed. Notified says some customers use this for internal communications too.
Below is an example of an online newsroom. It’s important to note that the functionality here is drag-and-drop. Instead of copying and pasting a link and headline, you simply drag any news coverage that Notified system captures in your “listen” tab, and drop it into an online newsroom:
5) Amplify: social and user generated content.
The amplify section is a way to visualize user content. Notified makes it really easy to re-publish publicly available user generated content from social media, that works in a fashion similar to publishing news links to a newsroom. Instead of copying and pasting embed code, you simply drag-and-drop any social mention the system captures in your “listen” tab to a showcase page.
For example, if you are an e-commerce clothing retailer, and a celebrity publishes a picture of herself wearing your new dress to Instagram, you can simply drag that post from the listen tab to your social media showcase page – built on a Notified template.
You can set up a showcase page to show up in a number of places:
- A TV monitor in your organization’s lobby;
- A big screen at your customer conference;
- A booth display at a tradeshow; or
- Any screen with internet access.
Here’s an example of a social media wall from within the Notified platform:
And below what that wall looks like to external audiences on your website. Notice in this example, its place is above the blog posts you might have published earlier:
6) Measure: dashboards and visualization.
The dashboard tab provides a slick way to visualize the results of earned media and social engagement. The dashboard also borrows from drag-and-drop functionality which makes customization look easy.
Here are some of the reports Notified offers:
There are some reports that are pre-defined to make it easy for novice users to see some results right away. However, if you need help creating charts, Notified offers a support bubble right there in the app to ask.
You can set up a range of alerts too. For example, you can have an email report sent every morning to a distribution list. Or you can establish a threshold notification when for example, someone mentions your company on Twitter five times in an hour.
When you set up a chart, like the one below, Notified gives you a dynamic link that makes it easy to share. For example, if you have a crisis emerging, you can provide a link to the graphs of those chats that will update over the course of time. This is a big advantage over other systems that limit the sharing of results like this to registered users, or to static PDF reports.
Here’s an example of coverage over time:
Here’s a look at some of the competitive reports, like share-of-voice, and a comparison of coverage over time:
7) Pricing and customers.
Notified told me that pricing starts at $9,600.00 annually, which gets you 5 user seats and 15 searches. The company will put together enterprise packaging and pricing options for larger buyers.
Notified says they have 650 customers and roughly 10,000 users on the platform globally. The vast majority of which, if not all, are outside the US. A search of several review sites – G2, Capterra, TrustRadius and Software Advice – did not produce any reviews at the time of this writing.
The product is new to the US, and so that will take some for them to accumulate State-side customers and reviews. This is something to bear in mind, as a point of negotiation, if you are in the market for PR technology and get to an evaluation phase with Notified.
8) History and backstory.
Notified was founded by Kristopher Stenkula and Marcus Norrving in Sweden in 2010. Initially, the company focused on social media management, but it made two small acquisitions in 2016, and later broadened its focus to included PR in 2017.
By all public accounts I reviewed, the Notified was a bootstrapped company. Crunchbase shows no known venture investors and the Swedish business publication Breatkit (thanks to Google translate) reported the company had annual revenues of 26 million Swedish Krona in April 2017. By my math, that works out to about $3 million USD using exchange rates about that time.
Notified was acquired by West Corporation in April 2019 for an undisclosed sum. West is a large company and just one in a portfolio of companies controlled by Apollo Global Management (NYSE: APO). However, as I’ve noted in earlier posts, it was a newcomer to the PR technology space and made its entrance when it acquired a $335 million PR tech business from Nasdaq, which included GlobeNewswire in 2018.
The parent company, West, has rebranded as Intrado and before formally introduced Notified to the US market. As I write this, Notified is listed as a product brand, among several others, under the PR product section of the Intrado website.
9) PR tech assessment.
I’ve used, tested and watch a lot of demos of PR technology products, and Notified is one of the most promising PR software products I’ve seen in a long time. Many of the solutions on the market do similar things in similar ways, with little advantages around the edges, but Notified really is different. The way this product has been put together, along with its modern look and feel, makes worthy of consideration. It’s slick, comprehensive, and appears to be reasonably priced.
The company is also focused on continued innovation. As noted above they have plans to add a media database, and Notified told me they are looking at integrating TVeyes for broadcast monitoring.
PR technology trails, by a long shot, the technology capabilities offered to marketing. As such, the industry needs healthy competition that drives our industry solution providers to try harder. Notified has the technological capability, and the parent company, Intrado, is large enough to have the resources, to foster a little more of that in PR.
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