For years I’ve been a sceptic of media databases. They encourage lazy public relations staff to spam hundreds of irrelevant journalists. And the reason they do this is because they are based on a major intellectual mistake.

These traditional databases assume that a journalist’s job title – or other, minor details entered into the database – will tell a PR practitioner what the journalist’s interests are. In fact, the only way to see what interests journalists is to look at their back catalogue of articles.

For example, a reporter might be fascinated by civil liberties. But if his job is merely “News Reporter”, a PR team using a traditional media database may well fail to add the journalist to their list.

The truth about traditional media databases is that those who use them have to guess whether the journalists listed are relevant. This is why the media is bombarded by press release spam and why PR practitioners get such a bad reputation among journalists.

Enter Precise Connect – a genuinely useful media database. It launches in 2013, and is currently being beta-tested by 300 people. I had a demonstration of the system and can honestly say that this substantially better than anything else I’ve seen.

The reason Precise Connect works so well is that every day around a million articles are added to the system, which stores them for 18 months. You can then search for everyone who has written about a subject in the past 18 months, regardless of what their job titles is. Then, you can look at the articles they’ve written and see if you think a journalist is favourable to your position. You get the choice of either clicking to search for the web version of the article (this is free) or paying to view a PDF of the article from the print edition.

The system lets you export lists as a CSV file. This will load straight into Microsoft Excel, allowing you to mail-merge emails to your list of journalists. Oh, I should point out that the user interface is modern and slick, using Precise’s trademark yellow and black branding. So you’ll not just get the contacts you need, but you’ll also enjoy using it, too.

Precise Connect is a breathtaking improvement over every other product in the marketplace. Will it make incumbents in the marketplace obsolete? I think it might.