Just when I was thinking, "Doesn't Cision do that?" Francois Huynh had an answer to my question about the PR service and software giant.

A former Yahoo project manager, Huynh is head of the new "invitation aggregator" InvitetheMedia.com, which combines a database of journalists and influencers, their beats and their contact information with a technological solution to ping and invite them to appropriate events. Huynh explains that Cision is a partner.

Strasbourg, France-based InvitetheMedia.com accesses the same data, he continues, but it focuses only on events and simplifies the process.

Users only have to provide details about the event, pay as little as $49 and watch the response from the targeted media roll in on a dashboard. The value is being able to reduce the costs of PR — by not needing a full-service agency or full access to Cision’s offerings — while allowing users to segment and target coverage from journos and influencers.

In theory, the service could have utility for marketers trying to get media attention for meetings, conferences and other newsworthy events.

A Journalist's Perspective

As a journalist, I was asking myself, how much more unsolicited communications do I want? And Huynh is willing to concede that what InvitetheMedia.com sends could be considered spam.

"Leading companies are spammers. … We are all spammers. Outdoor advertising is spam," he says. "The question is how intelligent the spam is and what are the main objectives."

Huynh claims to make his spam smarter by refining the service with feedback from local journos and editors — feedback "gold" in his book.

"The only thing I can try to do best is target to relevant media and help local journalists do their job and enjoy the meeting they are invited to," he says.

True, it is a journalist's job to field all manner of PR pitches (Spamish or otherwise), and it is a perk of the job to be invited to events, parties and junkets and have people make your job easier by feeding you content and news ideas.

More than 20 events have used InvitetheMedia.com in the first three months of its existence, reports Huynh. They ranged from Swim Wear Miami 2016, which starred Lacoste Swim Wear and drew 30 reporters, and a performance by Julio Iglesias Jr., which led to ink in 15 publications and a potential half-million impressions.

Learning Opportunities

What Are the Options?

Perhaps the biggest concern for users is not the spam factor, but if better tools exist for brands to attract social influencers to their campaigns and events.

One example is InstaHype.it. Landon Ledford of Double L Brands shares an example of a Hispanic candy company that used the tool to launch a new brand, targeting influencers across multiple cities during launch events timed with Mexican independence day celebrations.

Here’s another concern for any event promoter or organizer should be asking themselves: Should we really rely on any silver bullet solution? As you can guess, the answer is no.

"From a PR perspective, the best way to attract media coverage and social influencers to events is to invite them to an event that has 'real' value," says Daniel Lobring, managing director of communications at Chicago-based integrated marketing agency rEvolution.

“Real” value involves legwork and having existing relationships with them. Media members and influencers don't want to be invited to everything you're pitching and will realize when you're only looking to get something out of it. If you have a "two-way relationship," Lobring advises, in that they see you as a provider of value, a connector, they're more likely to attend.

And as Ledford points out, promoters and pitchmen still can do the legwork of creating the digital and marketing content plans, press kits, all the copy, story angles and pitches, and other collateral that can help every brand involved in an event to promote it easily.

Perhaps with all that work on hand, it would help an invite aggregator to lighten the load.

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