Category Archives: Measurement & Monitoring

Social media monitoring delivers quick returns

My favorite screen in PRN Media Monitoring shows top conversation topics within the social media monitoring results for the keywords I've selected. So cool. And dead useful.

A new report from IBM detailing the extent to which CMOs were unprepared for the advent of social media caught my attention yesterday.  Fairly stunningly, the report revealed that while most CMOs consider social media to be a key engagement channel, only a quarter of the large group surveyed were actively tracking blogs.  About half paid attention to different types of reviews.

Not surprisingly, the CMOs indicated that expressing ROI on social media is difficult. Furthermore, most of the CMOs surveyed indicated that developing their skills and understanding of social media was low priority.

Ignoring social media and its influence on customer buying decisions really seems like a risky approach to both planning a company’s communication strategy, and one’s own professional development.

I mused on this for a while and then opened up my PRN Media Monitoring suite, which I use to keep tabs on what’s going on in social channels.  I’ve used it for a while, relying on settings and parameters I set up months ago.  Frankly, it’s been a while since I set up a new monitoring profile.

In an attempt (albeit a biased one, I know) to look at social monitoring with fresh eyes, I set up a new monitoring profile and set about to see what I could accomplish.  In 20 minutes.

I bumbled around a bit, futzing with the keywords for my new search, before settling on the keywords “social media” with “press release” or “news release.”     And once my results loaded, I started having some fun.  Instead of following my “habitrail” and just looking at a handful of key metrics, I instead made discovery my opportunity.

  • I found a guy who’s blogging for a small business site on the subject of PR.  He’s new, but prolific.  We need to talk to him.
  • I admired the ripples the announcement of the PRN/Ektron partnership made last week, and spotted some coverage I hadn’t seen.  Cool.
  • I found a raft of people on Twitter to follow and add to some of my lists.  They hadn’t @messaged me, but they are talking about topics I care about.
  • And found a discussion on LinkedIn that I had managed to overlook despite my regular activity on that network.

All that, in just twenty minutes.

Any social media guru will tell you the first step you must take when considering developing a social presence for your brand is listening.   Understanding what your audience cares about is absolutely fundamental to social success.

Simply put, if you don’t listen, your programs won’t work, you will have a heck of a time defining any return for the time and resources wasted and you’ll probably think, “Eh, this social media stuff doesn’t work.  To heck with it.”  So why do folks skip the listening step?  I have a couple theories:

  • It’s hard.  Setting up the monitoring parameters can be an exercise in experimentation.  You may wind up with way too many fish in your net.   However if you spend some time tweaking your searches  (I personally prefer to have a host of smaller, more focused searches), you will find the input is not only germane, but manageable.
  • It creates more work.  True.  You will uncover opportunities that require response right now.   You will start to truly understand what people mean when they say the audience is now in charge.  And a lot of social media interactions are very high touch.   Blast e-mail doesn’t work here.

Ultimately, I think listening does make a company’s communications more efficient, and effective – simply because you know what your audience is interested in and where they’re gathering, and you can plan accordingly.

There’s no question the dynamics of attention have shifted.  Influence and information look far different today than they did five years ago.   The good news is that social media monitoring can reveal the new dynamics in your marketplace, enabling your brand to garner new insight and visibility.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of the free ebook Unlocking Social Media for PR.

Turning Online Conversations into Business Opportunities

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending RealTime NY (formerly TWTRCON), a one-day conference jam-packed with sessions, workshops, and case studies on mobile, social and real-time Web.

Following are highlights of one of the presentations, “Listen up! Turning Conversations into Business Opportunities,” which featured Randall Brown, Gatorade; Jeff Cole, Kellogg; Frank Eliason, Citibank; Victoria Harres, PR Newswire; and Stephen Rappaport, Advertising Research Foundation (moderator).

“There is ROI in listening,” said Eliason, but most companies are poor at it, and listen only for “the PR disaster.” Additionally, only 17 percent of companies actually do anything with the information they’ve found. “You have to be able to take the data and get it to the right people,” he said. “We have to change the culture to be about the customer.”

Gatorade has made listening the core of their mission, said Brown. “We’ve brought it in-house, made it the center of our business, and staffed it in-house. You want to get the people, the learning, as close to the business as possible. It has brought the space between us and the consumer to the smallest space possible.”

“Listening is the easy part,” added Kellogg’s Cole. “Making sure there is collaboration and getting the data to the people who can act on it is the challenge.”

For PR Newswire, listening “has been organic,” said Harres. “We have several people in different groups — sales, marketing, etc. — listening, so we did something as simple as creating one email address that serves as a listening group. We can share what we’re seeing and decide who will respond.”

When listening, look for trends – they’re good for product development, said Harres. Also, listen to all viewpoints, even the extreme ones. “I actually pay attention to ‘the lunatic fringe,’” said Harres, “because there is actually some truth in what they’re saying.”

If you look at social media in general, “it’s really about breaking down the walls,” said Eliason. “The customer sees you as one company. Social media sees you as one company. Companies need to focus on the right things. Customers are telling you everything you need to know about them. That is extraordinary information – if you know how to connect the dots. You need to know your customer.”

“In my view,” added Eliason, “the customers in the social Web own it, and we’re just invited participants.”

It’s also important to look at the people you hire. “Don’t look for social media experience,” said Eliason. “For me, it’s about passion – even if I disagree with what they’re saying. I can teach them social media. I can’t teach them passion.”

Internally, there are always going to be people who think social media is someone else’s department. They’ll say things like, “That’s Marketing’s job” or “That’s Advertising’s job.” Those are the people you have to nurture and make part of the process.

When Harres started tweeting for @prnewswire three years ago, she was pretty much ignored. “I was that girl doing that thing called Twitter,” she said. It wasn’t until she tweeted out a link to a survey for a colleague and got a thousand responses that others realized, “Oh, there is value here.”

Brown said the first step in the stakeholder process is to ask internal departments what their goals are, and explain how social media can help them reach their goals.

“Social media is breaking down walls around the world,” added Eliason. “Companies are no different.”

Harres said she looks forward to the day “when we don’t have to prove to someone that what we’re doing has real value. Let’s get past having to prove the value of listening.”

The bottom line: It always starts with business objectives. Social media is just one part of that.

Written by Maria Perez, director of news operations for ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. To read more from Maria, visit her blog on ProfNet Connect at http://www.profnetconnect.com/profnetmaria/blog/

Listening to social channels and keeping tabs on media pick up is easier with PR Newswire’s Media Monitoring solution, which leaves no stone unturned, and no medium unmonitored.  Monitor blogs, news web sites, social networks and online forums —  print and online — and gain a comprehensive view of your brand.

What Makes One Press Release More Successful Than Another?

A snap shot of some of the press release measurement details from a PR Newswire Visibility Report.

As manager of release monitoring and measurement at PR Newswire, this is perhaps the most common question I get asked by clients.  It’s the right question, and if answered properly, it can change the course of an organization’s entire communications strategy.

When looking at reporting details, either for one specific release, or for an entire string of releases, there are always two areas we need to focus on:  the good news, and the bad news.  Usually there’s a little of both in every report, and both can teach us volumes about the decisions we’ve made in terms of formulating our communications.

Give me the good news first

As in every other field of human endeavor, the universe rewards communicators richly for strategic approaches to their task.  In the arena of writing news releases, success is easy to see:  high numbers of online views, solid search results, soaring media numbers and amazing engagement; all of these are the rewards of a well-conceived message.  But this begs the question:  What exactly needs to be ‘well conceived” about a message?

Experts tend to emphasize one of two possible answers:  Some focus on the need for optimum and perfectly weighted keywords in the release, while others harken back to the first principles of good communications — writing the release well.  For success in today’s online world, you obviously need both.

In terms of SEO, we know that optimized content stands a better chance of connecting with target audiences than content that has not been optimized for search. The question for most communicators is, how does one achieve effective SEO?  Here we all have many resources at our disposal, from industry-leading SEO sites such as SEOmoz, to customized services such as PR Newswire’s step-by-step content optimization OptimizationMax tool, all the way to full scale SEO consulting services.   The source of one’s information matters less then making sure that you have the SEO info you need, and that you know how to use it.    Keyword research, gauging the competitiveness of synonymous terms, understanding keyword density, and knowing where the hot spots are in a release or website where keywords matter most, this is the nub of the SEO gist.

That said, SEO is far from the end of the story.

Communicators forget at their peril that they are not, in fact, writing for search engines, but rather, for real people.  As Maria Perez captured in her Day in the Life of a Freelancer post, audiences give your content only one shot, and it starts with your headline.  If you don’t get reader attention there, then all the SEO you’ve implemented in your release is for naught.  It truly is all about the “snappy, grabbing lead,” says freelancer journalist Roberts-Grey.  “If [a headline] doesn’t grab me right away, it’s outta here.”   Rod Nicolson recently reminded us of a universal truth, which is, that “Everything is a story,” ( Storytelling Rules & Writing Better Press Releases ).   Especially in this age of content marketing, communicators need to make absolutely sure that their news releases —  i.e., their ‘stories’ — are compelling.  It’s simply a fact that the visibility of your entire message is at stake.  I see customers get reminded of this every day.

“Break it to me gently”

Reporting never lies. It’s easy to tell when we’ve hit the mark with our releases; it’s equally easy to tell when we haven’t.  You may have generated good online views, but poor media resonance; your first two releases might have gotten very high index scores, but your third release did not;  the amazing numbers of spider hits you obtained with your last release looked great, but the release garnered surprisingly fewer search views than any release you’ve issued so far…. What happened?  What’s the pattern?

This question was posed to me recently by a very large and well-known company.   They couldn’t fathom why one of their releases got surprisingly lower-than-average scores.  This prompted us to look at the results from their past 10 releases.  Lo and behold, a clear pattern emerged.  For starters, we noticed that this company’s earnings releases seemed to always garner the same amount of visibility –high but not through the roof.  This makes sense, as the audiences interested in earnings releases differ from those who follow more consumer-type releases, etc.  Also, these audiences tend to be stable.   Next, the company had issued two personnel releases, but one that announced the hire of a more well known individual than the other.  No surprise that the former got much higher views.  The biggest incongruence did indeed relate, as the client noticed, to the two more ‘lightweight’ releases recently issued.  One got head-spinning results, and the other didn’t.  They both dealt with the same topic.  Upon closer look, we see that the headline of the popular release mentioned a high-profile tech-y gadget; the other didn’t.  Otherwise, the releases were very similar.  Quite simply, the tech gadget angle ended up being a writing decision that paid nice dividends in terms of visibility.

In writing news releases, success should be our guide, but we need to also note the patterns.  Results garnered from soft news shouldn’t necessarily be compared with those for conference call announcements.  These two types of communications have very different goals and will show very different viewer and engagement information.  We should first learn to compare apples to apples, and THEN analyze similar releases to see why one apple fared better in the marketplace than the other.

Effort still matters

Even when you think you’ve covered all your bases, however, think again.  As NBA finals draw near, those of us who follow basketball painfully remember the occasions when our favorite championship teams have lost critical basketball games during the regular season.  After any one of these shocking losses, it’s worth noting the coaches’ reaction.  NBA coaches never come out and criticize the skill level of their players.  Instead, what you hear over and over again is the lack of ‘effort’ in the game.    This actually does have a  parallel in the news release world!    Let’s say you’ve just issued your news release:  you’ve written it well and you’ve optimized your content.  What’s left?  There’s actually a lot of footwork still left to do.  Did you post the release to your organization’s Facebook page?  Did you Tweet about the release?  Did you follow up with journalists and bloggers who usually cover this area? Are you actively networking, and building your own social networks for the areas you cover in your releases? Are you actively tuned in to the context of your message?

High scores are ‘earned’

In the end, ‘earned media’ is what it says, ‘earned’.  It takes both skill and effort to pull off an effective communications campaign.  Looking at the patterns in your reporting results will tell you quickly what you did right, and what you might improve on to get better results next time.

Author Denise Perez is PR Newswire’s manager of release monitoring & measurement.

Related articles:

Optimizing Press Releases for Maximum Online Visibility

http://blog.prnewswire.com/2011/02/07/optimizing-press-releases-for-maximum-online-visibility/

Writing the perfect headline

http://blog.prnewswire.com/2010/11/02/how-to-write-better-headlines-and-gain-pick-up/

SEO Tips for Press Release Writers

http://blog.prnewswire.com/2010/10/22/seo-tips-for-press-release-writers/

Media Moves & News for March

PR Newswire’s audience research team makes thousands of updates daily to MEDIAtlas, our easy-to-use, all-online media database.   Following is a selection of noteworthy recent updates – plus key media moves on the horizon, and a synopsis of interesting media news.

TBD (which is short for “To Be Determined”) was the new kid on the Internet newsstand in Washington last year. It had solid backing from Albritton Communications Company (WJLA-TV) too. But it recently announced layoffs and the breakdown of most of its site’s offerings. TBD will now be a DC area arts and entertainment site only now with news feeds from outside sources. The news, sports and social media reporters were all let go. TBD was a site that was an interesting live media lab experiment. It was an attempt to be a financially successful local news site and after early promise and splash the cord was pulled by its owner Albritton. You can check out the A&E only version here: http://www.tbd.com

Hit the Kill Switch! Who knew there was an off switch for the Internet? Egypt’s former leaders used it to cut the communication cord for the demonstrators. But luckily the power of the people prevailed in their overthrow. This “kill switch” is an interesting bit of news though and obviously can be used in different ways of course if a “Fearless Leader” so chooses. Check out The New York Times story.

MSNBC has replaced Keith Olbermann’s Countdown with The Last Word, a new program hosted by Lawrence O’Donnell. Meanwhile, Olbermann has announced plans to join Current TV as Chief News Officer and Host in late Spring. The move will help raise the profile of Current TV, a San Francisco-based cable and web outlet founded by Al Gore. A former sportscaster, Keith blogs about baseball at http://keitholbermann.mlblogs.com/. Follow Olbermann on Twitter at http://twitter.com/keitholbermann and O’Donnell at http://twitter.com/lawrence.

After much speculation of unconfirmed rumors, CNN Cable News Network confirms that co-host Kathleen Parker splits from the four month show “Parker Spitzer”. Beginning early March, the show will adapt its new name titled “In the Arena” which will continue to feature Elliot Spitzer as its primary host and have an ensemble format with newsmakers, guests, and contributors joining Spitzer each night. Prior to CNN’s decision to drop Parker from the show, it was reported that ratings increased at a 68 percent jump in 25-24-year-old viewers in the month that Spitzer hosted the show on his own while his co-host was reportedly out sick. However, the network has also announced that its decision to drop Parker was mutual, stating that she has decided to refocus on her syndicated column and would occasionally continue to appear on CNN as a contributing guest. “We have decided to take the show in a new direction,” states CNN’s President Ken Jautz. Set to join “In the Arena” are two conservative contributing panelists former Fox News Channel host E.D. Hill and National Review Columnist Will Cain (Will.Cain@turner.com).

Boston.com launched a Health & Wellness section that focuses on fitness nutrition, health, and the medical industry. Health Reporter Deborah Kotz also writes “The Daily Dose” blog in this new section. You can contact her at dailydose@globe.com and you can access the new section here: http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/

As the situation in Egypt deteriorates, many journalists are braving conditions to get the story out. Among them is Western New Yorker Brian Hartman. Hartman is a Producer for ABC News. He and his photographer were kidnapped by a group of men. Fortunately for the duo, the cameraman, Akram Abi-hanna, is Middle Eastern and was able to defuse the situation. Both men were let go unhurt.

Landmark Community Newspapers in Shelbyville, KY has just announced that its three locally owned newspapers, The Roane County Press, the La Follette Press, and the Morgan County News will soon make the switch to subscription-based internet content.  “A major portion of revenue for our news and information efforts each month is derived from subscription revenue…We feel as we improve our services to our readers that they should help pay for them, whether it’s in print our online.”, stated Johnny Teglas, publisher of the Roane County News. Customers are required to sign up for an online account or sign to receive delivery to be able access unlimited content of these publications.

There’s a new magazine in the city of Syracuse. It is called Syracuse Woman Magazine. The monthly magazine is aimed at professional woman in the Syracuse area. The Editor is Farah Jadran while the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief is Barbara McSpadden. Send any story ideas to info@syracusewomanmag.com or follow them on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SyrWomanMag

KCBS-TV reporter Serene Branson had what some thought was a stroke during a live broadcast after the Grammy awards. Ms. Branson has return to work after suffering a condition called a complex migraine which can mask the signs of a stroke.

KNBC-TV’s assistant news director, Keith Esparros was instrumental in having a stretch of freeway named for popular traffic reporter, Paul Johnson who passed away several months ago. A stretch of the 55 freeway in Orange County has been named the Paul Johnson Memorial Freeway.

WPRO-AM changed its lineup. A new morning show debuted hosted by Tara Granahan, who previously produced the morning show hosted by John DePetro, and Andrew Gobeil, former Weekend Anchor for WLNE-TV. John DePetro moved to the 9:00 a.m. – noon slot.

Tom Abate, who previously wrote about technology and biotechnology for the San Francisco Chronicle, has left that paper to head North Coast Journal, a Eureka, California-based weekly publication he helped found in 1990. Reach Tom at tomabate@northcoastjournal.com.

Check out more media updates by region here:

http://www.prnewswire.com/knowledge-center/mediaware/March2011MEDIAtlasUpdatesbyRegion.html

About MEDIAtlas: Create, edit, save and distribute to media lists 24/7 with this easy-to-use web-based global media database and automated distribution system. Updated continuously, MEDIAtlas™ contains fully searchable contact details of hundreds of thousands of journalists and bloggers worldwide.  Tens of thousands of Pitching Tips from Bulldog Reporter help you learn exactly how and when to send your story for the greatest likelihood of pickup.

Authored by Kevin Frey, Senior Audience Researcher/Mid-Atlantic Region, Audience Research Group,  PR Newswire

Social listening done right

I had the privilege of attending the “Pay Attention! Social Listening Done Right” panel at this year’s Social Media Week in New York. As the title of the session conveys, this was a discussion about how brands and marketers listen in on conversations happening on social media channels, separate noise from meaningful signals and properly respond to the information they glean. In the company of about 120 fellow attendees (by my rough count), I enjoyed the free-flowing conversation that touched on a handful of intriguing topics and first-hand tales of the trade.

Michael Learmonth (@learmonth), digital editor at Ad Age, was the moderator of this five-man panel:

Kyle Monson (@kmonson), senior technology editor, JWT

Shiv Singh (@shivsingh), head of digital, PepsiCo Beverages

Brian Clark (@gmdclark), CEO, GMD Studios

Ed Sullivan (@ed_sullivan), vice president of strategic alliances, Radian6

Michael Jaindl (@jaindl), chief client officer, Buddy Media

Instead of typing out a play-by-play of the discussion, I’ve rummaged through my notes and have spotted four main points that I’ll recap below. If you would like to watch the entire session, head over to Social Media Week’s Livestream video of the event.

The panel was kicked off by Learmonth, who noted that though big brands are now listening to conversations happening in the realm of social media, “any 2-year-old” can do that. The real question, he asked, is: “What do I take from all of this information and how do I act?”

This led to the discussion of the following topics, among others:

1) The challenge of separating noise from meaningful signals: Singh was first to offer his thoughts on this, the “heart of the challenge we face.” He said that the information gathered through social listening “only makes sense when it’s put in the context of other information.” Digital dashboards that help his company track how they’re faring against their competitors in the social space are interesting when they’re placed beside volume data and brand-health data so correlations can be observed. Singh added that while his company listens to conversations on a daily and hourly basis, “The challenge continues to be separating the noise from meaningful insight, and then data that can be actionable and data that we can respond to in a real-time sense.”

Sullivan, whose company makes software and analytics to help deal with this issue, added, “The good news is that as more money is being invested into social media as a medium, as part of a fabric of a company’s strategy, there are really cool tools that are coming out to actually help that entire process of finding the right piece of information, the right nuggets, and getting them to where they need to be.”

Monson (who, funny enough, was monitoring the tweets about the panel with his laptop) added that the trick is putting the right person in front of all the information who can interpret the data and make the right decisions in a timely manner, an inherently risky task that might go against a marketers’ nature.

An easy way to discern the noise from the signals, according to Jaindl, is to start paying attention to anything with a question mark: who, what, when, where, why and how? This is a good place to start if you want to know what you should respond to.

2) How companies should respond/act: Once you identify the important signals, the issue becomes how you should respond to them, if at all. One of the more intriguing points of the conversation occurred when Learmonth brought up an example of Virgin America sending a traveler a $200 voucher by way of a direct message on Twitter because the traveler’s flight was delayed. Monson contrasted this with an airline responding to an angry tweet with just an apology and explanation, and drew the “common sense” conclusion that brands shouldn’t get involved with a customer’s moment of despair unless they can actually do something about it. “If you can’t do something, you’re just reinforcing the negative perception that I already have of your brand because my flight’s delayed.”

Clark pointed out that sometimes people will tweet in anger without wanting a response. He added, “The novelty of, ‘Oh look, the brand actually is listening to me,’ I think, over the next few years is going to be replaced by a sort of creepiness about, ‘Oh, the brand is listening to me.'”

The recent Wheat Thins commercials, where consumers who tweet about the brand are visited by a yellow van and a film crew, and given a pallet stacked with boxes of Wheat Thins, was used as a possible example of this. “Now, at some point that novelty’s going to wear off and that’s going to be creepy,” Clark said. He then told members of the audience who partake in social media listening that they are “professional voyeurs,” and that there are creepy ways to use the information gathered from these activities. Clark warned that every brand that messes things up will change the landscape of consumer reaction, forcing brands to be more sensitive to this matter of privacy.

Later in the discussion, Singh brought the conversation back to gray areas when he called out “the elephant in the room,” which was Facebook. While the giant social networking site clearly houses a wealth of valuable conversations for brands and marketers to tap into, the problem is that only a small slice of that is open to viewing and listening via brand pages and public profiles. Monson dubbed this walled-off information the “holy grail.”

“And that’s the big missing thing,” said Singh. “Listening is never going to be totally scalable until we can listen to that, or we can at the very least model out the impact of what’s happening on those pages.” He stopped short of saying whether Facebook should actually be opened up to this extent or not, but did say he thinks what keeps Mark Zuckerberg up at night is the decision to make Facebook profiles private instead of public by default, which is the opposite of what Twitter has done.

3) Determining who brands should respond to: While it’s easy for brands to respond to customers who are either big supporters or detractors, “How do you find the normal people out there?” asked Learmonth.

“Normal people don’t make footprints in social media,” said Clark. After some laughter, he continued, saying, “People who make footprints are having an extreme reaction. They either really love the brand or they really hate the brand.”

Monson added that brands often respond to sentiments not held by the larger community. Nevertheless, Clark noted that by responding to extreme reactions, brands are showing that they’re actually listening.

During the Q-and-A time later in the session, when the panelists were discussing the concept of influencers, Jaindl made the point that brands might want to worry a little bit less about who their influencers are. “Everybody has a little bit of influence, and I think people like brands that are genuine and treat everybody equal,” he said. “So if someone’s looking at a brand and they say, ‘OK, that brand is only responding to who they think has ‘influence’ — that comes across as a little bit insincere.” Jaindl’s bottom-line suggestion was, “Stop trying to figure out who the influencers are and start responding to everybody.”

4) The perils of using Twitter as a focus group: “There’s a danger in putting too much stock in what Twitter users are saying, I think, because they’re not always going to be representative of the audience,” said Monson regarding the idea that social media conversations may offer a glimpse into the future for brands.

“You end up with ‘Snakes on a Plane,'” Clark added.

Learmonth added that listening to what consumers are saying online led to the failed attempt by CBS to bring the show “Jericho” back on the air.

“It’s so tempting to use Twitter as your focus group because it’s free, it’s pretty easy to mine what people are saying and it’s easy to throw those results into a PowerPoint deck,” said Monson. “But I think you still need to actually talk to humans because…humans talk in different ways than they do on Twitter.”

My takeaway: While many subjects were covered in this discussion, the overall sentiment that I walked away with was, well, more of an image — an image of a child on a quest, trying hard to wield a large sword. While it’s clear that social listening is a potent new tool that can benefit brands and marketers, there’s a distinct tension between that and the cost to the unknowing consumer. As it stands, there’s much to be learned about listening, responding and balancing this task in the grand scheme of bigger strategies. The path to the holy grail might be blocked, but it doesn’t mean people will stop searching for other ways to that prize, no matter how many times they might fumble their weapons along the way.

Authored by Jason Hahn, editor, Profnet.

Need to get your ear to the rail? PR Newswire Media Monitoring gives you insight into how your organization, product, service, competition and industry are presented in print, online and social media channels. Media Monitoring tracks comments on more than 40 million blogs, 5 million forum posts per day, and 30,000 news sources, social networks and microblogs, including Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Our flat-fee subscription pricing model ensures you always stay within budget no matter how many article clips we find – and the ability to change your search terms keeps your media monitoring relevant.

Press Release Measurement 101 – Behind the Numbers

Press release measurement - the summary page of PR Newswire's Visibility Reports

Not so long ago, as maybe a few of you might even remember, the ‘reporting’ possible for a given news release was sparse at best.  As recently as 1996, when I joined PR Newswire, there was basically only one type of reporting you could get for your release anywhere in the industry —   specifically Dow Jones or Reuters clips —and these were only available if the organization on whose behalf you were issuing news was publicly traded.   As we all know, such is the case no longer.  Instead, the press release reporting landscape has literally exploded with myriad reporting options for any piece of news.  Take your pick:  release postings, headline impressions, user interaction stats, search terms, social media shares, and  ‘access’ intelligence covering everything from IP address to browser type, to ‘network’ of viewer.  Just to name a few.

The last decade has truly been a journey of ‘rags’ to reporting ‘riches,’ yet, the new profusion of options has created its own conundrums, leaving many communicators slightly befuddled in terms of what they should be expecting by way of complimentary news release reporting.   What does one really need to know about the impact our news is having ‘out there’ in the world once we send it out?   To sift through the data, it’s helpful to understand the three evolutionary stages of news release reporting, each of which has left with it key reporting options you should minimally expect after sending your news release.

First, media interaction.

The first news releases sent through a commercial newswire were sent to media only.    Direct news delivery into newsrooms remains a key component of many communications strategies, especially for traded companies.  Customers who submit news via this channel should expect to see viewer information statistics from credentialed media for their news release.  The media reported as such in newswire reports should be vetted by the newswire, and the news outlet they represent should also be disclosed.

Next, online distribution.

The first real ‘revolution’ to occur in news release transmission arrived with the advent of direct-to-consumer online news delivery in the 1990s, and this delivery channel brought with it a huge array of measurable statistics for communicators.   What stats should you insist on?  The following are non-negotiable!

•          Release posting reports from 3rd party websites

•          Number of views of release on newswire site

•          Number of times the press release was printed

•          In-text link (and anchor text) click-throughs

•          Geographical display of online viewers

•          Referring domains

Nice -to-haves

•          Trend lines

•          Viewer numbers on 3rd party sites

•          Crawler or spider hit stats

Search

•          Top search terms

•          Top search engines

Multimedia

•          Online video views

•          File downloads

Finally, social interaction.

The latest revolution, occurring even as we speak across the communications spectrum, allows us to measure how users share our information online.   Here, the key things we need to know are:

•          On what social networks this news has been shared? (outbound)

•          Who has accessed this release via a social network (inbound)

•          Who has emailed the release, tweeted or blogged about it?

Beyond these essential spheres of intelligence, there are, as PR Newswire sees it, other must haves to give you perspective on your numbers.  These include index scores, which only PR Newswire provides.  These take the statistics accrued in each of the above areas, and compares them with those of other similar releases, letting you know how your release fared comparatively in each sphere.  Index scores give meaning to the wealth of numbers.

Overall, the paradigm shifts in newswire content dissemination have given us much to be thankful for in terms of the reporting possibilities they have opened for all of us as communicators. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Authored by Denise Perez, manager, release reporting & measurement, PR Newswire

PR Newswire offers robust reporting with all press release and multimedia content distribution services.  Current members can simply log onto the Online Member Center, or contact us if additional help or information is needed.

Hearing vs. Listening

Last week I attended and spoke at PR & MKTG Camp East in NYC.  I participated as one of the session panelists on Establishing Business Impact Metrics and Analytics. This afternoon session sparked a lot of conversation about social media monitoring applications and approaches,  but I wonder if through all the talking, was anyone really listening?

It’s often said that one of the most important things companies and organizations can do today is listen.

A whole new industry has risen up with multiple products to help us listen to what is being said in the many ways consumers and investors are today communicating.   There are countless stories and case studies about the results that we can expect if we are truly tapped into the conversation. BusinessWeek even speculated on the practice in their article Wanted: Social Media Sifters last week.

But I ask again, are we really listening?

There are many dashboards to help us, but they can also make us lazy.  They help us to decipher if our message is being heard by the masses or the niche markets we are trying to reach.   They help us add a new metric to our arsenals of graphs and charts that we can hand to our bosses, showing our good work.  But, are we listening or are we just hearing the noise?  Too often stories bubble up that become case studies to be discussed in blog posts and presented at conferences, where companies were burned because they weren’t listening.   This happens because someone got caught tuning out.  But, I’m not sure they weren’t hearing, they just failed to listen and act.

There are arguments that say it doesn’t matter what everyone is saying, only what the “influencers” have to say.   I’m not sure that I agree with them. Look at the story of Bob Golomb in the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.  The story is about the philosophy of the best sales person at a car dealership.   He didn’t judge a person on looks, age, or profession.   He treated each person like they were his best customer.

Do we do that online today with what our audiences are saying about us?

There are times when we cursorily hear our audiences.  They make mention about not being happy with a product or service issue, but often their voices go unanswered in social media. It’s not that we weren’t hearing them, but listening also implies action. I was always taught that when you are in a conversation with someone you need to be an active listener.  Active listening is what we must do today.  This implies that you are acknowledging what’s being said, and that acknowledgement offline is much easier than online.

Online, active listening means that we must acknowledge the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly.   Most of the time, someone just wants to know they were heard, even if there wasn’t necessarily an answer for them. Some of you might say that you’re from the PR team, the marketing team, etc. and that the response must come from sales or customer relations.  However, today because of speed, all of our activities within a company are tied together.

Bad customer service can cause a bad reputation and make the job of communicators much harder.  As I recently heard Frank Eliason – formerly of Comcast and now with Citibank – say at the BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas, Customer Service is the new marketing.

Authored by Michael Pranikoff, director, emerging media, PR Newswire.

Image courtesy of Suchitra Prints via Flickr Creative Commons.