Category Archives: Measurement & Monitoring

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:

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 Follow Olbermann on Twitter at and O’Donnell at

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 ( 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 and you can access the new section here:

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 or follow them on Twitter at

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

Check out more media updates by region here:

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


•          Top search terms

•          Top search engines


•          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.

Using your social media monitoring program … to plan your campaigns

Your social media monitoring tools can do more than keep tabs on conversations evolving around your brand or quantify the results of a social media campaign – they can also be useful in the planning phases.  When developing a social media campaign, it’s crucial to gauge the current temperature within a target audience before launching a new initiative, and to identify the primary influencers within the segment. Understanding the trends in conversation, what specific demographics of people are talking about your subject and who is sparking the conversation online is key to honing in on exactly what kind of messaging will reach them.

For instance, if you’re launching a campaign for a new all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, a good place to start would be to track  conversation trends over the prior month, to find out what people are saying about your subject.

Identifying the most active demographic groups for a particular subject is also useful, and can help determine the content of your message or the network(s) you target.

Once you’ve identified target demographics, the next step is to identify the people or sites you want to engage with.  In PR Newswire’s Social Media Metrics service you can segment this list by any news or social media segment.   For instance, you could see who the most influential people on Twitter are for any topic, brand, competitor, etc., which can be ranked either by number of followers:

Audience research also comes in handy when setting goals for a campaign, because it gives you a measurable benchmark from which you can work.   Once you’re able to see the current level of influence you and your followers have online, the easier it is to quantitatively measure the success of your campaign, allowing you to see where your strengths are and where you may need to apply additional focus.

Contributed by Allison Murphy, Product Manager, Media Monitoring and Measurement

Twitter PR Tactics: Writing a Tweetable Press Release

Twitterers are enthusiastic sharers of information of all kinds, from breaking news and blog posts, to press releases and media kits.   Harnessing the power of this important social media network can really give your PR campaigns a boost. Here are some tips on writing press releases for Twitter that will help ensure your messages are easy for active Twitterers to share.

A well-crafted tweet of a press release that incorporates keywords and hashtags

1.      Write a succinct, “Tweetable” headline.  Messages conveyed on Twitter must be 140 characters or less, however, best practices for writing Tweets suggest that you should leave some characters available to allow others to share (or “ReTweet”) your message.  Our advice?  Keep headlines short – no more than 100 characters, which leaves plenty of room for others to comment – and for the URL linking back to your story.

2.      Make it easy for people to link to your story.  If you’re e-mailing a pitch to a journalist or blogger, be sure to include a link to the online version of the message.    PR Newswire takes it a step further, embedding a variety of sharing tools for Twitter, Facebook and a host of other sites – within the press releases on our web site.   A shortened URL is even more convenient.

3.      In a short headline, the language you use counts.  Focus your message on what the release is about, and use the keywords people use when discussion the topic at hand. No one wants to re-tweet convoluted jargon.

Paying attention to these details can significantly expand the audience for your press releases and other messages.  According to ExactTarget’s report, ”Subscribers, Fans & Followers: The Collaborative Future,” Twitter is the channel that’s most likely to drive increases purchases and recommendations after a person chooses to follow a brand.

What other tips do you have for making content easier (and more attractive) for Twitter users to share?

Authored by Sarah Skerik, VP-social media