A Stocking Full Of 'CyberClippings'

If you’re looking to fill your client’s or boss’s inbox with a load of e-clippings, or if you personally monitor more than three or four web sites like ClickZ.com, start the millennium off right by investigating two promising online clipping services.

CyberClipping

Luce Online CyberClipping, which launched just last September, was created to cater to the needs of us PR pros by providing in-depth coverage of the Internet/online editions of the important news publications. Pubs scoured include the online editions of the top 100 U.S. daily newspapers, wire services, business magazines and journals, and trade publications, plus major broadcast and general news/information web sites.

“Clients who receive comprehensive daily coverage of all the Web sites we monitor,” said Luce Online vice president Kelly Schmitt, “…need to know what was included in the Internet/online editions of news publications, which is different than what appears in the printed version.” For example, Luce Online reads over 100 URLs from USA Today daily, reviewing thousands of stories.

“Proprietary software reads the totality of each site daily, not just the index or main pages, generates an email report containing excerpts from all relevant articles, with live links, and delivers it by 8 a.m. EST. Clients see exactly what online readers see, not some out-of-context clip. It’s important to understand that online editions of print publications often run longer versions of a story, as well as post frequent updates.”

“CyberClipping was designed with the client in mind,” added Schmitt, “to be effortless. All the key information arrives in the email so clients can track the news, and agencies can forward live links to clients, in seconds.”

Cyberclipping has no set-up fee, and charges $200 per month per search term to deliver an unlimited number of clippings. According to Schmitt, many clients still desire hard-copy clippings and maintain both print and online accounts. “While the cyber clips deliver immediacy, paper hardcopy clips still provide a sense of permanence.”

Web Start-Up Tale

Webclipping is a classic ebusiness start-up, a pioneer in its category, and competes with the new Luce CyberClipping service. While the two are similar in many details, differences in media coverage and reporting styles differentiate them.

Webclipping, founded in 1998 by NYU graduate student and self-professed computer hacker Noah Silverman, began as an experiment in virtual company creation initiated by a discussion in a PR class. When Silverman realized no one had yet made a business of collecting and delivering online news clips, he organized some like-minded friends to develop proprietary software that would automate the electronic news tracking and clipping process.

Silverman and friends wrote the code to track key words, such as “Bill Gates,” gather and organize the findings and deliver the results to clients. “Our program runs a letter for letter search, which finds exact matches and eliminates common errors,” said Silverman. “When a new client signs on, we run a benchmark, archival search of the 30 search engines we track to find everything online about the target and to eliminate duplicate items. Then each succeeding search turns up only new mentions.”

For a flat monthly fee, Webclipping delivers either a weekly or daily news clipping report derived from three levels of online search. Phase one scours the 30 search engines to generate a Smart Abstract, which includes 300 characters before and following the specified search term. Phase two searches a growing mix of 1,500 online publications, from the online edition of the Los Angeles Times to the electronic edition of Red Herring. Phase three reviews Usenet newsgroups.

Then a summary email is sent to each client after each search. The summary puts them just two clicks away from any clipping via a linked password and the Smart Abstract link itself.

Prices are modest: $200 to set up a new account and a flat $100 per month for weekly searches, per key word/phrase, or $250 monthly for daily reports, no matter how many online news stories Webclipping finds. So should you generate a bonanza of online news coverage, your budget will not be unexpectedly drained.

As the importance of the web as a news medium of record grows, and the number of consumers tuning in daily for a quick online news fix skyrockets, pioneering services like Luce Online and Webclipping are likely to enjoy a profitable niche. And to engender additional competition.

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