Measuring Leo’s Buzz

One of the hardest tasks in marketing is measuring the specific impact a news story is making on the market.

The public makes its feelings known about a particular bit of news in many ways, but the most immediate is email. Someone sees something and wants to gripe – or rave – and usually it goes into a dead inbox. After all, Leonardo DiCaprio and Volvo don’t really have time to read and respond, right?

Well, a new Seattle outfit called TellThemNow.Com is about to launch a free tool that won’t respond to you, but will at least let the handlers of Leo and Volvo measure that email feedback.

The technology is called SmartMail, and it’s going first to newspaper and TV broadcasting sites. TellThemNow founder Wiley Brooks explained how it works.

“You go to a news site, you’re reading a story, and it’s about, say, Volvo. [Or, say, Leo.] There’s someone quoted. You type in their name and send the email. We aggregate the email around the tone of the message, positive or negative. We forward them as a single email, along with a summary. So Volvo [or Leo’s manager] can see what happened with all the stories that appeared about them yesterday.”

TellThemNow will make money two ways from all this. First, sending the email requires you to go through two screens, one of which contains ads from the “affiliate partner” (the newspaper in this case), the other of which contains ad space TellThemNow can sell.

Then, later this summer, the company will announce an up-sell to its free service, dubbed SmartMail Plus. “Volvo [or Leo’s manager] could pay for different delivery options,” Brooks said. “They could get it at a different time, or get it in real-time. They could do instant content analysis.” Since it’s sold as a service, rather than just software, TellThemNow gets a continuing revenue stream.

How did PR people get this great tool? It turns out Brooks is a PR man himself, having founded his first PR firm back in 1988.

“The product was designed by PR people for PR people. We had a good sense of how attractive it would be. We also pulled together a PR community advisory board, representing many of the influential names in the industry.”

While newspapers will be the first beneficiaries of TellThemNow’s technology, Brooks says they’re really the means to an end, namely a big initial base of users and feedback that makes SmartMail Plus worth buying.

“We have agreements, letters of intent, or verbal agreements from 900 news sites,” Brooks says. But rather than announce all those deals right now, he is doing a phased roll-out, starting March 1, in the company’s home base of Seattle, home to the Seattle Times and KOMO-TV.

The full national roll-out (along with the press conference, the newspaper stories, and the flashing light bulbs – all those things so common in Leo’s life) is targeted for March 21.

Brooks contacted us figuring you could get some advantage knowing about this now. That’s called a scoop, and if you want to generate some buzz about your story, a scoop is still a great way to get it.

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