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A Chat with Coverage Book
By: Mike Bush
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Sometimes, success breeds…more work? This is particularly true in PR, where getting your client lots (and LOTS!) of coverage can mean lots (and lots :-/) of reporting on that coverage. Whether this is combing Excel (or PowerPoint) with some sort of metrics (via media kit, Compete.com, Twitter followers, or any number of other things), success in a campaign can mean someone on the team is taking one for…well, the team.

Coverage Book is out to ease this process.

The company, which is a little more than a year old, has created a platform that enables PR people to quickly put client coverage reports together, with very little fuss. Founder Gary Preston answered some questions for me:

Me: Is client reporting really that big a deal?

Gary: Is reporting a hassle? It is when you could be spending valuable time doing other things. For some people that might mean doing more work for more people. For others it might be time back for higher value generating work. I'd also like to think some use their time saved for others things...like getting home early to spend time with friends and family. I've heard too many stories of late night reporting after successful campaigns.

The aim of Coverage Book was to turn days of coverage reporting into minutes. I think we're on our way to achieving that. My hope is that with the time saved on the basics of presentation and collating base stats more time will be spent on delivering insight. Which in many cases comes down to a careful combination of planning and retrospective analysis of the business impact of the campaign.

Me: How long have you been around?

Gary: We launched in Jan 2015 and put our paid plans live in March 2015. We currently lucky to have agency and in house PR team as customers.

Me: In our conversations, you mentioned that the team has other initiatives under way.

Gary: We have a few more free tools coming soon that I'd be happy to talk you through. One is a free tool to help PR teams get data about the impact of their coverage easily out of Google Analytics without having to navigate filters/other confusing options.

To help, we're also starting to provide free tools like www.answertheclient.com. We built this to help PR professionals feel more comfortable in extracting data from Google Analytics about the impact of their online coverage.

Me: Some clients are reticent to share access to Google Analytics and other in-house measurement. What would you recommend to get them beyond that?

Gary: I think part of the fear in giving access to analytics (especially to PR teams) is that those asking have probably not instilled that much confidence they'd know what to do with it. I'm hoping that teams empowered with simpler tools like answertheclient.com have a clearer purpose to ask for access.

From a client’s perspective, sharing access to all data might have been a put off. So again, letting teams connect a tool like this to get very specific data relating to their performance could be one way to work around that fear.

Worst case, PR teams could just get their client to run the report themselves. It's still a hassle for the analytics expert to run filtered reports like the one we've automated.

Me: Anything else in the funnel?

Gary: We're also keen to help people come up with stronger ideas for their content and PR campaigns. So we released answerthepublic.com to help with that. The auto-suggest results provided by Google and Bing are a gold mine of insight for today's marketers. As you type, you are presented with an aggregated view of the questions, and therefore a hint of the motivations and emotions of the people behind each search query. It's perhaps one of the best but most underutilized sources of research for content ideas. The tool was built to help people collate the questions people ask in search and present it back for you to use for content ideas.

Me: Answer The Public seems like a really neat tool. Any plans to make it more robust as an SEO tool?

Gary: In my view Answer The Public is already a great tool for SEO teams. It's loaded with ideas for changes to categorization of content, new content ideas, link building ideas, and so on. I spent years as an SEO consultant and the tool was automation of a process I undertook as part of strategy planning.

Editor’s Note: To say Coverage Book and I got off on the wrong foot might be a bit of an understatement. I appreciate Gary taking the time to chat with me despite a few miscommunications. I’m not 100% sold on the need for Coverage Book, but I support that folks are trying to make the industry better, and love it when someone is out to challenge the status quo of some of the mega-providers. I asked Gary about this, and he said:
We're self funded and not racing to sell the company. We're building a business that we don't want to sell. I think that gives us an edge in that we're not racing to take over the PR world with another "platform." We can focus on doing our thing well and have fun while we're doing it. If anything, we'll look to encourage integration of tools they love already that fit into their workflow.
I applaud the sentiment.

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About the Author
Mike Bush is a PR and Marketing freelancer with more than a dozen years of experience in the field. Find him on and connect Twitter @mikebush or at www.mikebush.nyc. 
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