Earlier this week I had a demonstration of a web-based media relations application called Gorkana, which sounds a bit like the name of somewhere (or someone) connected with Borat's loss of innocence.
Anyway, the general idea is that it allows PRs to keep tabs on all the key journalists whose views hold sway with their clients' customers and other stakeholders. The users can output lists of names and email addresses for easier one-to-many communications, and within their own organisations they can view, add and amend information about individual media contacts. There's also a search application, which would be vastly improved by a connection with a proper electronic media database (like Factiva) where the body as well as the title of articles can be queried, and perhaps certain other data sources that would permit influence and impact to be assessed in greater depth.
Overall the system has the look of something that was developed without a great deal of hands-on involvement from end-users or the journalists themselves, though there is a survey built in that allows the latter to express an interest in opera or tennis in the hope that Glyndebourne or Wimbledon tickets might form an integral part of the awareness-generation process. (And anyone can tell you how hard it is to get people in the comms industry to think of themselves as users. )
When pressed, the Gorkana reps forecast the imminent inclusion of bloggers in their system. I'd love to know how much serious thought is being given to that particular challenge. The underlying peer-to-peer dynamics of the medium would make it that much harder.
I know that some of my colleagues have given some thought to what a social / collaborative version of such a contacts system might look like. But if it had to be a good old-fashioned piece of centralised data, then at the very least it will have to demonstrate some recognition that categories like "relationship" are going to be harder to define at the global level. And even more so than MSM listings, blogger contact entries will only really work if they are integrated into tools that can monitor (and critique) conversations in the blogosphere.