Listen up, agency owners, managers, and agency decision-makers . . .
Beware of Meltwater...this cautionary tale may save you thousands of dollars and keep you from making a time-draining mistake.
What are the details of our experience?
We made the regrettable mistake of switching to Meltwater as the new media database and media monitoring software solution for our agency a few months ago. While no database/monitoring software we’ve ever used is perfect, Meltwater is a disaster, based on my team’s personal experience.
Over the years, our agency has switched platforms three or four times. Meltwater had one “plus” that Agility did not – the ability to pull media monitoring reports retroactively (or, so we were told).
This feature was important to us because when we begin working with a new client, it’s helpful to pull previous coverage and create a metrics benchmark. It’s not perfect, but it’s a starting point.
Meltwater’s salesperson was charming and most of all, persistent for several years. I turned the demo over to our team to make the final decision, and ultimately, they decided to give Meltwater a shot.
Meltwater requires 100% of the annual fee paid up-front, so we forked over $10k. That was the first red flag (or, shall I say, “golden handcuffs”). Agility allows clients (especially PR firms who have not fully recovered pre-pandemic revenues) to split the fee into quarterly payments.
We benefited from the subscriptions overlapping for one month, as we were able to compare Agility to Meltwater side-by-side. Again, beware of Meltwater.
And boy, did we learn A LOT.
What were our specific concerns?
Here is an excerpt from an initial email expressing concerns and dissatisfaction that I sent to our sales rep. Don’t miss the last bullet point. It was the nail in the coffin:
I’m coming back to you with these issues since you were our salesperson. I understand that you may need to elevate this to the powers that be, and I’m happy to jump on a call as needed. I would like to make this as easy and painless as possible.
We have been horribly disappointed in Meltwater from the beginning of our contract. Because of your persistence, we decided to give Meltwater a chance and it is not working out. We don’t believe Meltwater has met the terms of our agreement. I can have my attorney write a letter, if necessary, but here are our complaints:
- We were told that broadcast media monitoring is included, but it really isn’t. Meltwater only pulls links from stories that run online which is greatly hindering our ability to track broadcast media coverage when the outlet does not post the story to their website [this happens frequently]. We never needed or requested actual broadcast clips, but were told broadcast monitoring was included; however, that is not the case. Broadcast media monitoring that includes ALL mentions – whether on-air or off, is an industry standard with media monitoring services.
- Since beginning to use the service my team has complained that Meltwater has far fewer (and less up to date) contacts than Agility. This is hindering our ability to build robust and reliable media lists and impacting our media relations efforts. Since public relations services are typically billed by the hour, we are spending more time scouring the internet for additional media contacts. This is impacting our bottom line because time is money.
- We distributed a release via PRNewswire for a client last week and noticed that Meltwater pulled in half of the hits that we typically see with Agility. When my team addressed this with our rep, her response was that the “hits” aren’t searchable, but they MUST be if Agility has the ability to pull them.
- The nail in the coffin was last night when I received an email from Meltwater offering me literally the same service we just purchased for HALF THE PRICE. That is an unethical business practice and should not be tolerated on any level.
Geez, Meltwater. Get your CRM house in order!
Not only did they offer me 50% off a product I had recently purchased for services that my team nonetheless didn’t feel they were even receiving, two of our team members received a separate email asking how likely they are to recommend Meltwater, after we had made it quite clear our level of disappointment and dissatisfaction.
Talk about tone-deaf marketing.
What was Meltwater's response?
The email led to a Zoom between me and their executive management team, which led to their outright refusal to refund the fee and let us move on so we could do our jobs faster and easier.
They did decide to throw us a bone and tossed in broadcast media clips for “free” (even though it had been well-implied that complete broadcast media monitoring would be included as part of the earlier-promised package) -- a $2500 “value” on their “rate” card, which obviously fluctuates depending on the day, who sends the email, and whether there is a month-end fire sale.
I decided it would cost more than $10k to fight Meltwater, so I’m taking my case to the court of industry opinion.
I personally consider Meltwater’s sales tactics – including perceived bait-and-switch and all-over-the-board nomenclature about what it is precisely that they’re selling (versus what they’re actually delivering) – paired with an inferior service offering, a tough pill to swallow.
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