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Lissted adds sentiment scoring, trends and data export. Creates integrated press monitoring and reporting platform for Twitter

LisstedRealwire’s Lissted platform has added yet more interesting functionality.

First up, sentiment analysis. Each journalist Tweet now gets an automatic sentiment rating (courtesy of the Lexalytics salience engine). This means that you can now filter your journalist monitoring in terms of sentiment as well as by time and/or Klout score – in real time.

In practical terms, this means that you can monitor, say, a particular group of journalists who are talking about your brand or relevant topic – and immediately understand where the most positive and/or negative comments are coming from – and take action accordingly.

Secondly, Lissted now provides automatic trend analysis. At a generic level, you can see at a glance the current most popular topics that the press are talking about in real time. Better still (if you are a Lissted Pro user), you can analyse trends within a defined subset of journalists. So you can monitor trends within a media group that is specifically relevant to you. Certainly takes the guesswork out of what the media really is talking about on Twitter.

Finally, you now have the ability to export data out of Lissted into a spreadsheet. From a reporting standpoint, this really is the jewel in the crown.  For example, you can define a specific group of journalists over a particular time period – and then export not only the Tweet content and associated data, but also Klout and sentiment scores for offline analysis. I can see this being an immensely powerful tool for determining which content has the most relevance, reach and impact. Smart PR pros are going to be able to use this to spend more time refining their content and engagement strategies rather than wasting countless hours just struggling to gather the requisite data.

Coupled with the recent announcement of dynamic Twitter lists, Lissted has evolved rapidly into a robust monitoring and reporting platform for looking specifically at the media on Twitter. Given media relations remains at the core of much PR activity, Lissted certainly seems to provide a powerful means of providing real time insight into the conversations that journalists really are having on Twitter (as well as the content they find most worthy of linking to).

Any PR who has an interest in remaining ahead of the game in media relations would do well to check it out.

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Recycled Friday: Is £2.5 billion really spent on press releases in the UK?

I was inspired by the following comment from @adcontrarian in his latest blog post:

Because I am a lazy bastard and the thought of writing five posts a week is a constant source of terror, I have decided to introduce a new policy around here. From now on, on Fridays,  I’m going to recycle old posts that I like and that are still relevant. Today is our first Recycled Friday.

What a great idea. Having nearly 600 posts over 7 years gives me a good back catalogue to plunder.

Without further ado, here is a post I wrote five years ago – has much changed? You be the judge.


New survey conducted by Benchmark Research on behalf of Glide Technologies has thrown up some interesting, if not entirely unsurprising, results about the PR industry in the UK today.

The full report is here:

Glide PR survey

However, the one item that caught my eye was the calculation that  £2.5bn is spent on press releases in the UK. This based on the survey finding that 39pc of PR professionals time is spent on creating, distributing, and following up on press releases – and the estimated total size of the UK PR industry at £6.5bn. Couple that with only 32% of releases received by the media being of genuine interest, then I calculate that means £1.7bn is being wasted on irrelevant press releases.

Although I’d take this calculation with a pinch of salt, it would be fair to say that an awful lot of money is still being spent (and wasted) on the humble press release.

The survey also highlighted a clear discrepancy between journalists desire to be contacted by email and PRs who still overwhelmingly use the phone.

I know the reasons for both sides views. Journalists have been jaundiced by too many wasteful phone calls along the lines of “did you get my press release”, or are you attending exhibition X (see Phil Muncaster of IT Week vent his spleen re: the pre-InfoSec deluge of calls asking him whether he was going – Muncaster InfoSec rant )

On the other side, PRs often feel that they will get more “attention” by actually talking to the journalist. Though of course that still means you need a good enough story to give them.

My take on the survey as a whole is that is shows the same old values still apply to PR in terms of media relations – journalists will give the time of day to a trusted source – but even that doesn’t guarantee they will use a story. Perhaps some of that wasted £1.7bn could be spent on training PR professionals to get better at becoming trusted information sources.

Other findings below:

81% of Journalists on a desert island opt for laptop over a phone

Email remains the most popular delivery format for journalists. Fax, post, newswire, PDA and SMS all decline. RSS and IM emerge.

76% of journalists more likely to use press communication with photos etc.

89% of journalists will visit an organisation’s website most of the time when writing about them

Journalist Complaints

Poor use of email (e.g. sending large attachments) accounts for the two greatest online deterrents to journalists

Only 32% of releases received by the media are of genuine interest

73% of journalists think an organisation is ‘not media friendly’ if its online press information is poor. 60% think they’re ‘lazy’, 50% that they’re ‘incompetent’.

Research conducted by Benchmark Research.

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Automated sentiment analysis? Yes, it is possible. And it’s here: Glide Intelligence

Glide Intelligence

The concept of automated sentiment analysis has pretty poor reputation. Not least because expectations have been raised in the past by vendors only to be dashed on the hard rocks of failed promises.

Glide Intelligence – launched this morning to group of 50+ senior comms professionals at the CIPR HQ in Russell Square – thus enters the market with a hefty hurdle of cynicism to overcome.

However, having been involved in the beta testing of the product over the last 12 months – and having sampled many rival attempts at sentiment analysis in the past – I’m very optimistic that Glide Intelligence really does take a major step towards the holy grail of genuine, real time automated sentiment analysis.

So what sets Glide Intelligence apart from rival sentiment analysis systems?

  1. The product hasn’t been knocked together in five minutes. As Glide CEO Sam Phillips said this morning, the project started nearly 5 years ago and has seen a 7 figure investment in its development.
  2. One of the key brains behind the project is Keith Woods-Holder, who, if anyone, is entitled to the moniker of godfather of automated sentiment analysis. He began his career 25 years ago creating advanced mathematical models for the UK Government’s Advanced Planning Unit, followed by 3 years as Research Director at Saatchis. He was then recruited by IBM to set up KWHR, on of the first ever firms to build a commercial sentiment analysis model which was subsequently adopted by brands such as Kodak, Dell, Sony and NASDAQ (Keith does a good line in Michael Dell anecdotes). The man has form.
  3. The technology is based on 4th generation advanced NLP sentiment analysis. It is also context-based, rather than keyword or dictionary based. This means it gets over one of the major traditional objections, namely, that automated sentiment analysis can’t handle irony, sarcasm or slang.
  4. The breadth of sources. Glide Intelligence will monitor broadcast, print, online and social media all at once – and in real time.  For example, you could have a real time, minute by minute, monitor of brand sentiment – and be able to spot where comms issues are developing in real time (just think what Peter Morgan at Rolls Royce could have done with this). An example was given this morning about how the tool could be used to monitor reaction to tube strikes – and where the sentiment is developing and how that is translating across media platforms. And what comms action could be taken – in real time.
  5. It can also be used to trace how a story developed eg if a particular article generates reaction across Twitter, broadcast, etc – and which could provide a blueprint for dealing with a similar issue in the future.
  6. Glide Intelligence provides multiple perspectives – in other words, not only can you view sentiment for your own organisation, but you can see how the world looks through your competitors eyes. The implications of this kind of analysis for comms professionals is obvious.
  7. Full transparency – you can pretty much drill down as far as you want to an original Tweet or article.
  8. The reporting capabilities are immense. More charts and tables than you can shake a stick at.

As you can guess, I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen so far. If Glide can deliver what’s on the tin, then perhaps the long awaited promise of automated sentiment analysis may finally have arrived.

Form an orderly queue for your demo now.

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Magic Ink with Dan Gold – DynamoTV episode 2: Panasonic TA1


Latest episode from DynamoTV. Great stuff.

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New York Times on Twitter: “The Conversation begins here”. And ends here it would seem.

Looking back over the last 24 hours, the New York Times Twitter account has Tweeted around 56 stories. An examination of the click through rates on these stories (which you can see for yourself by simply appending a ‘+” sign to any link as the NYTimes is using a customised domain) shows that each story typically gets between 200 – 400 click throughs. Even being generous and assuming that each story gets a unique set of people clicking through, that suggests that, at best, Twitter generates around 22,400 click throughs to the site per day.

Even the “conversation” around NY Times stories on Twitter doesn’t seem too lively. The number of Retweets of each story is low, rarely getting into double figures.

According to Google Ad Planner, the New York Times site gets around 170 million visits per month and around 650 million page views. Based on the above analysis, Twitter based traffic is accounting at best for around 660,000 of those visits.

Clearly, 660,000 visits for most people would be a stonking triumph – and it could be that visits from Twitter result in people who spend longer on the site and read more content. But it suggests that the bulk of NY Times traffic is coming either directly or via search.

Of course, the overhead of running a broadcast style Twitter account for the NY Times is trivial. So perhaps in that context, the click through rates should be judged a raging success.

Then again, given the recent E-Consultancy survey which showed that most businesses are spending next to nothing on social media, you wonder if the NY Times experience is a possible explanation – namely, if the NY Times – with 2.7 million followers – finds it hard to get more than few hundred people to click on a link, what hope do we have?

What do you think?

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Rolls Royce Corporate Comms Director: “Social media is a complete waste of time”

Well, that’s how I interpreted the words of Rolls Royce Director of Communications Peter Morgan in the latest issue of Corp Comms Magazine. I appreciate that I didn’t attend the event where he is supposed to have made the statements below – but I don’t doubt that Corp Comms Editor Helen Dunne has faithfully recorded what he said.
According to Morgan: “I was communications director at BT for five and a half years. I’ve been communications director at Rolls-Royce for about six months. I don’t think there is a single example where social media has impacted directly on the reputation or share price of either of these significant organisations.”
The phrase I picked up on here was “impacted directly”. What about the indirect impact of social media on a company’s reputation with its customers? Surely if BT or any other organisation continually ignores grievances voiced by customers on social networks then this is surely indicative of a deeper malaise within the company? And that sooner or later those chickens will come home to roost?
“If a subject gains traction in the social media domain, if it is important, it very quickly feeds into the mainstream press. And when the Daily Mail phones to tell you that you’ve got a problem, you know you’ve got a problem. There is a self-alerting mechanism.”
But how can the Daily Mail call Peter Morgan? Although he is listed on the Rolls Royce corporate website as a media contact, he stands out from the rest of his colleagues as being the only one who doesn’t have his phone number listed (reminded me of the Director of Customer Relations for a FTSE 250 firm, who, as a matter of policy, refused to talk to customers).
Morgan seems to view social networks as simply feeder channels for the mainstream media. In other words, a social media topic is only validated if it is picked up by a traditional big media outlet.  Dealing with the Daily Mail et al should therefore still be the top priority for a corporate comms director. Presumably Morgan isn’t one of the 54pc of senior communications directors who think that their key challenge for 2010 is executing a digital strategy.
He continues: “For decades, there have been people in pubs all around Britain saying how much they hate BT or how frustrated they are with Virgin Atlantic or whatever. The fact that they now spout their opinions on a social networking site doesn’t make them any more important or more alarming. “
If I’ve understood his comment correctly then – in Morgan’s opinion – BT and Virgin Atlantic customers (or any organisations customers for that matter) are simply annoying oiks whose opinions are worthless. They are an irritating distraction to the main goal of making sure the share price is propped up at all costs.
In which case, the irony will not be lost on Morgan by this story in today’s Mail on Sunday in which his former employer, BT, is, gasp, monitoring and responding to negative comments on social networks – big style. If customers “spouting their opinions on a social networking site” are “neither important nor alarming”, then why is his former employer patently investing heavily in social media monitoring?
And how would Peter Morgan deal with this story if he were still at BT?
What would he do about how the story has been circulated widely online using the very social networks that he appears to regard as unimportant? Or deal with the growing number of comments the story is attracting on the MoS site itself? The bizarre irony of this piece is that most of the people commenting think the MoS has taken a daft perspective on companies paying attention to customer complaints online – but in turn, they are then using the MoS story as a platform to air their grievances about BT generally – but presumably these people are the same kind of “opinion spouters” that have been dismissed as unimportant previously.
On a different subject, anyone thinking of selling a sentiment analysis tool to Peter is also probably wasting their time:
“I’m deeply suspicious of this early warning idea. In most consumer organisations, the time taken between this becoming a good social media story (My note: what’s a bad social media story?) and this becoming a good online news story and the Daily Mail being on the phone is minutes. I think that it is a waste of money to invest in online tracking systems for social media alerting you to problems. Every problem that has come across my desk has travelled too fast for that early warning system to be of help to me.”
As I’ve said already, it appears that Peter Morgan believes dealing with traditional big media is the main priority of a corporate comms department. In which case, he is probably right to argue that using a social media tracking tool as a crisis management early warning system is flawed – but only if you view dealing with traditional big media as the top priority for a corporate comms department. Surely the modern day comms director must pay attention to what customers are saying – wherever they are saying it. And respond appropriately.
Finally: “Your company website is of critical importance. When deciding how to deploy resource, you would be rash to deploy social media at the expense of a principal corporate website. The oldest communications tool of all is frequently ignored.”
Presumably one of the oldest communications tools is the telephone – which as we’ve seen above, is one that Morgan himself seems to ignore too. At least as a two way communication tool.
So, is he a PR dinosaur? Or a voice of sanity? I wonder if he’ll stop by to comment on this post? Given his apparent attitude to social media, I assume he’ll never even be aware of its existence. But I’d be delighted to be proved wrong. I’d even be happy to take a phone call (020 8334 8095).
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Bloggers and journalists needed for annual Glide survey

For the last few years, Glide Technologies (purveyors of the well known Online Press Centre product) have conducted an annual journalist survey to delve into the nitty gritty of what kind of information journalists want and how they want to receive it.  The Glide surveys have tended to stand out from other similar, run of the mill research efforts in this area – they actually do seem to come up with some valuable insights.

The 2009 survey is now getting underway – the key difference this year is that Glide is looking for input from both journalists and bloggers (sorry, no PR folk required).  I realise most hacks would rather poke their own eyes out rather than spend time on yet another bloody survey – but if the thorough approach of recent years is replicated again this time around, I’d say it is 15 mins well spent.

As an added incentive, everyone who helps by completing a survey will be entitled to enter a prize draw and a chance to win 2 bottles of Champagne –  3 sets up for grabs – and of course, everyone who takes part will receive a full copy of the results (naturally).

So if you are a journalist or blogger, feel free to go here to complete the Glide Technologies 2009 Media Survey. Go on. You know you want to.

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Journalists using LinkedIn profiles to “vet” interviewees?

As I noted in my recent Online PR whitepaper, there are some novel digital twists occurring within traditional media relations. Take the good old journalist interview. In the past, a journalist would probably have to take at face value a bio provided by the PR person of a prospective interviewee.  On LinkedIn, although the background info provided by the person themselves might be of relevance, more value is to be had from what other people think of them ie LinkedIn recommendations.

Here is a practical example.  We began working with information risk management specialists ArmstrongAdams in December last year. Tim Kipps is ArmstrongAdams’ spokesperson on all issues related to information risk management and IT security.  Tim certainly knows his onions when it comes to his subject matter. However, another thing that I found very impressive were the huge number of recommendations he has on his LinkedIn profile (46). The frequency with which words and phrases like “expertise” and “high integrity” appear has certainly been reassuring to me that in terms of media interviews, we are putting forward someone who is clearly respected in his field and really does know what he is talking about.  And is trustworthy.  For journalists, that surely has to be a good thing.

It’s also a good thing for a PR too. It is easy to overlook the fact that a PR is often judged by the quality of the spokesperson he/she pitches to the media. Rightly or wrongly, a journalist may view a PR less favourably if the quality of interviewee they pitch is seen as sub-optimal. If both PR and client have a mutual interest in ensuring that only the most qualified and worthwhile spokespeople/interviewees are pitched to the media, then surely that too has to be a good thing.

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Where are the PR Numerati? (Is Stephen Baker reading this?)

Have just finished reading senior Business Week writer Stephen Baker’s book, The Numerati. A great read – and worthy of several blog posts rather than just one. However, this quick precis (and experiment) will have to suffice for the moment.

The underlying premise of the book is that a combination of maths, monumental data gathering, smarter algorithms and human brains are taking an ever more powerful and influential role in modern society. At first glance, many might dismiss this as a familiar “geeks are going to rule the world” kind of argument. However, Baker is more specific – it’s the mathematicians and statisticians that are wielding the power – and the people who adopt their mindset.

The book goes into detail as to how technology, data and mathematics are having (and will have) an immense impact in various aspects of life such as shopping, politics, blogging, terrorism, healthcare, even romance. In short, the mathematical modelling of humanity.

However, in relation to the field of PR, it did remind me of something that I’ve been banging on about for some time – namely, where are PR’s algorithms? Where are PR’s mathematicians? What PR campaigns are being driven by the kind of data gathering, maths and analysis that is clearly being deployed in other areas of business?

Steve Rubel at Edelman talks about “ a dearth of geek marketers – those who use and understand online sharing tools but also know how to sell a brand”. I agree that this is part of the equation, but there is also a need for the mathematical and analytical mindset in PR that Stephen Baker talks about.

Interestingly, Baker was recently asked in a Bad Pitch Blog interview if there was something he wished all PR people would do (besides leave the face of the earth)?

He replied: “In my dreams, they’d all have read everything I’ve written and understand in great detail the demands of each one of my channels. In other words, they’d quietly tee up just the kind of stories I want to write.”

Of course, even the most diligent PR these days is going to find it nigh on impossible to read everything about every relevant journalist on every relevant channel (the inability of human beings to even come close to digesting the data out there is a constant refrain in his book). Perhaps Baker was hinting that PR ought to be deploying the tools of the Numerati to analyse his output and to help shape the kind targetted PR he seeks? ie generating the kind of very specific and relevant subject lines he craves in PR e-mails.

On a slight tangent, the following is a little experiment.

I’m willing to bet that Stephen Baker has set up a Google alert for the term “The Numerati” – in which case, this blog post should be showing up in his Google Reader shortly. I’m also going to Tweet him directly to see if he responds (Hello Stephen – great book!). And by using the URL shortener, I’ll know how many people have been directed to this post via Twitter – and any ensuing conversation around it.

FYI, as I have a track record in building out journalist profiles via Twitter, I’m just wondering what some savvy mathematician would make of the following that might help better inform a PR approach to him?

Number of pages referencing Stephen Baker at Business = 4.010
Reference to the term Numerati over the last 12 months (allowing for the fact that is is a common Italian word)

Twitter profile

BusinessWeek writer, author of The Numerati (2008)
Location: Montclair, NJ
Time Zone: Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Joined: Tue 08 Jan 2008 20:31
Following: 195
Followers: 2276
Updates: 927
Favorites: 7
Friend: Yes
Notifications: No
Protected: No

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Average Brit makes four internet searches per day; receives over 2000 commercial messages

According to ComScore via the latest issue of Revolution magazine, we Brits make an average of 4.1bn Internet searches every month. If the UK Internet population is around 35.6m, then I calculate that the average UK internet user makes around four internet searches per day, every day.

According to some sources (in this case, a report touting the benefits of railway advertising), the average UK person is on the receiving end of over 2000 commercial messages every day.

I appreciate that a Google/Yahoo/MSN search isn’t the only way we seek out information (we talk to people, we still watch TV, we still read newspapers), but the contrast between how much we pro-actively seek out information via the Internet (commercial or otherwise) versus what gets pumped to us (whether we want it or not) seems huge.

If we accept that the vast majority of purchase decisions – business or consumer – begin or involve search, you do begin to wonder why more people don’t spend more time and money on inbound marketing as opposed to the traditional “push” model.

From a media relations perspective, it also occurred to me that the average journalist is exposed to way more commercial messages than the average person (because of all the additional PR related messaging that comes their way – and much of which doesn’t seem to work).

Isn’t it time we adopted an inbound approach to PR? Inbound media relations anyone?