Social Media – News Tweets And Measuring Impact

(Just as an aside, could we dispense with the term ‘press release’, used to describe a piece of writing, carrying a message and sent to a journalist with the aim of generating media coverage? Could we not just say ‘news release’ or ‘media release’? Is it not time we broadened our horizons? Anyway.)

Today, blog snorkellers mine, I give you not one wonderful thing to look at – but two! And, as you know that I am not a great advocate of social media as business or marketing communications tools, you may be intrigued to hear that they are both social media ‘value-adds’. Of course, I will put my spin on both, but you can think for yourselves, can’t you,  and you might just go away with something you feel you can use. Never, as I have said before, never say I don’t give you anything.

First I give you This appears, as far as I can see – and I can’t go very far into these things, as my eyes mist over, a sense of panic descends and I find myself forgetting how to breathe – to be a sort of happy journalistic tweety site, to which you, the hapless PR practitioner, can post (for a small sum) your press releases, in tweet form. (See what I mean about the use of ‘press release’? In an online medium? Or is it that ‘press release’ is a bit like ‘press gang’ – you read the headline and it hits you over the head and the next thing you know you’re waking up in front of your PC and you’ve written a rubbish story about some crappy feminine hygiene product. Hmmmm?)

Personally, I think Muckrack is a site too far. I think it’s the answer to a question that no-one asked. I think it’s someone, probably with the best of intentions, trying to make Twitter relevant to the communications/media industries. I think the content’s a bit poor and there isn’t really a context. I’m afraid that Muckrack is doing nothing to convince me that I ought to be any closer to ‘social media strategy’ than my current ‘not with a bargepole’ default state.

But ignore me. S’pose you pay a dollar a word to put your news tweet through Muckrack. How will you monitor its impact on the blogosphere and the reactions of consumers, competitors and stakeholders? How will you know whether you achieved an ROI or not?

Fear not – well, OK, be a little fearful, because I do not have a clue and frankly don’t think it can be done, but these guys over at VMR Comms do. Blokey here is talking about Radian6, ScoutLabs and Sysomos – and I have no idea what they are or what they do, but I’d say, if you’re serious about your social, then you should be checking it out. I also check this post because it puts forward a list of questions you may need to ask before embarking on a social media monitoring gig. And they are very good questions – so good I post them here:

  • Are you looking to compare your share of voice online versus that of your competitors and track that over time using easily comprehensible metrics that can be assigned a $ value?
  • Whose voice do you want to listen to? Key influeners? General consumer sentiment? Stakeholders? Traditional Media? Male? Female? In North America or worldwide?
  • Do you need a platform that can be used in focus group fashion to slice and dice general consumer sentiment, key influencer sentiment, and or journalist sentiment?
  • Do you need to know where the fish (your prospects and key influencers) are currently swimming (“conversing”) before you dive into or create an empty pond?
  • Would you like to track how well your PR campaigns have increased share of voice specifically among key influencers or among consumers at large?
  • What about your sales and customer services teams? Are they looking for the actionable
  • intelligence that a social media monitoring platform can provide? Will the monitoring platform you choose need to integrate well with a CRM like
  • Which social media “venues” are you most interested in monitoring? Blogs? Traditional News Outlets? Forums? Linkedin? Facebook? Youtube? Blogtalkradio? Podcasts? (Check out the conversation prism below to get a better sense for what’s out there)
  • If influencing the influencers is important to you, do you need a platform that helps you identify key influencers by showing you inbound links, comment count, level of engagement?
  • Is yours a global brand where you need to monitor not only key influencer sentiment but also the so-called “Long Tail” of your marketing sales curve?
  • Is your CMO demanding specific and meaningful metrics that can demonstrate a clear ROI from your social media engagement efforts?
  • If you are monitoring global brands, will you need a platform that translates content and sentiment in multiple languages?
  • Do you have the resources, expertise and social media savvy currently to fully leverage the capabilities of whatever platform is best for you?
  • How much historical data will you need? Some platforms have absolutely enormous amounts of historical data. Is that going to be helpful to your PR and marketing teams? Or not worth paying extra for?
  • What about ease of use? Do you need a platform that multiple users in your organisation will learn quickly and easily, thus increasing their level of online engagement?

So, Farewell Then, PRWeek


Morbid fascination, that’s what it is. Anyway, there I am flicking through November 20th’s offering, doing my best to suck what little value I can from the less-than-compelling mix of not-news, hagiography and terrifying light-weightedness (tell me it’s not so) and my eye is grabbed by the ‘From The Editor Column’.

“Striking a Balance Between Print and Web” is its title. It goes on to inform me that I will be noticing a few changes to the ‘Week – cutting news pages and and adding extra space for analysis. (Of what, exactly, pray?) They’re also going to dedicate a page in the magazine to content featured online – which has to imply that there’s not that much news or analysis to fill the pages that they have.

In fairness – it all makes sense. The website is rapid reaction, more easily updated and attracts far more viewers. The print version is out-of-date by the time it’s published and has never really contained the sort of thought-provoking, enduring, educational and value-providing content that would justify its existence.

What all this is clearly leading to – especially given Haymarket’s current title rationalisation – is the closure of the print version of PRWeek, although the editorial team are doing their utmost to hide it behind the smoke and mirrors of increased analysis and assertions that the ‘industry’s bible’, which has ‘enjoyed a major redesign’ is and ‘remains the mainstay of our offering’.

Well, no it won’t, beyond, I’d say, January 2010 – unless it genuinely can reinvent itself and become the ‘industry’s bible’ – and by this I mean something that sets standards, leads the way and provides the industry (at all levels) with stuff we can use.

For example, recently it was reported that very few European businesses had crisis management plans in place. In this very issue of PRWeek, there’s four pages dedicated to ‘crisis comms’ -case histories and commentary from industry pundits. Good start. But.

Wouldn’t it have been a better idea to create a guide to creating a crisis plan? Outline the basics, so that everyone knows where to start? Show the differences between plans for global organisations and local organisations? Demonstrate the potential consequences, the signs to look out for and how to counter them? Suggest a process for employing a crisis consultant? Provide examples of best practice desk-top exercises and full-blown crisis plan trials?

Wouldn’t this be significantly more useful? More useful than yet another Thought Leader supplement, but probably attracting a similar amount of advertising? Useful enough to merit a print version, and useful enough to motivate people to keep it on file and share it with others? Hmmmm?

I don’t want to see any print media disappear as a consequence of the rise of the internet and online content. I do understand, however – and PRWeek almost certainly does as well – that unless print media offers something that t’internet can’t (and I’m guessing that this includes in-depth consideration of topics and issues) then disappear it will.

Luckily, the communications industry has a myriad topics and issues that are ripe for this sort of treatment.