Psssst. Theyre Talking About You…

Your company is spending big dollars on media buys as well as on online and offline public relations to make the world aware of what your organization is doing. In addition, your company is working to establish your positioning in your industry, helping you build your ever elusive “brand” identity and value proposition. So how do you know if you are successful in getting coverage for your company? And is it the kind of coverage you want?

If you are mentioned in ClickZ, you will immediately know it, of course, because you read ClickZ every day. But if you are mentioned in the Houston Chronicle or even The New York Times, are you sure to see it? I’d bet that for most of us, the answer is no.

It is often useful and important to track news coverage of your company, if for no other reason than to be sure that what is being said about your organization is positive and accurate. With so many news sources strictly online, any traditional print press-clipping service is likely to prove inadequate for tracking your coverage.

There are three main tools we use to track media coverage for Tenagra and its clients. None of them are truly exhaustive, but put together, they provide a fairly robust means of identifying and tracking coverage.

The first means of tracking coverage is simply to ask people that you interact with online how they heard about you. If you make it easy for them to tell you, they usually will. For example, in his June 2, 2000 ClickZ Column, Andy Bourland mentioned that he reads our Online Advertising Discussion List each day and included a link to the site.

When you go to the home page of the list, there is a form asking you to specify your email address. The form also asks “How did you hear about The Online Advertising Discussion List?” Starting June 2 at 1:58 A.M., we began receiving subscription requests from people telling us that they heard about us from Andy at ClickZ. A total of 29 new subscribers have now come from that reference. (Tenagra and have jointly pledged to charity $0.75 per each additional subscriber that signs up to receive the Online Advertising Discussion List by August 1, so Andy’s passing mention sent more than $20 to the American Cancer Society. Cha-Ching! Thanks, Andy.)

The second means of tracking coverage comes from the log files of your web server. When someone clicks from another web site to your web site, it usually generates an entry in the access log of your web server containing the URL of the referring site. The software that you or your agency uses to process your log files should produce reports showing you a list of where your referrals are coming from. By scanning this list, you will find links to news stories that mention your site.

The third means of tracking coverage requires going out and looking for coverage yourself. Or, you can hire an agency or service to do it for you. For each company that we track clippings for, there are about 30 different news sites, search engines, search agents, and news libraries that we use to scan for coverage, plus special niche news and magazine sites that we scan based on the particular industry of the client. Many of these services are free to the user, but some charge a fee for searching or retrieving articles. When using these kinds of services, great care needs to be taken to define the right keywords during your search – or you may find yourself sorting through a lot of irrelevant information.

You may find that creating a web page with links to your news stories provides a valuable addition to your online media center or Intranet, as well as a pat on the back or two from your management for all the great coverage your public relations efforts have achieved. But if you are posting the links on a publicly accessible page, you may want to take care to assure that those links that you post provide information that is accurate and casts your company in a positive light. To see examples of how this can work, take a look at pages we’ve created for EDS and Tenagra.

There are also search tools for monitoring usenet newsgroups and stock chat sites. Going beyond simple monitoring and notification, the next step is to provide strategic assessment, analysis, and recommendations for response actions in the event that misinformation is posted. This is a particularly sensitive issue for many publicly-traded companies, because an unfortunate reality is that there are people who will use stock chat forums to post false information, as well as rumors aimed at manipulating stock prices. This is also an area in which a good online public relations agency (along with a good attorney) can provide a lot of additional value.

So do you want to give this a test and see what they have been saying about the good folks at ClickZ? We ran a search going back to January 1, 2000, and this is what we found:

Press Releases:

News stories with links online:

Articles without online links, but available through online databases either for free or for a fee:

  • B to B, July 3, 2000:
    Web sites for b-to-b marketers

  • B to B, June 5, 2000:
    The Tip Sheet
  • The Age/Sydney Morning Herald, April 18, 2000:
    Post office keeps the data flowing
  • Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, April 1, 2000:
    Online privacy issues associated with Web sites for children
  • Dairy Foods, April 01, 2000:
    E-Mail Marketing Comes of Age
  • CNNfn: Digital Jam, March 6, 2000:
    E-mail Excellence Awards
  • Financial Times, March 23, 24 2000:
    Spamming is bad for business
  • SDM (Security, Distribution and Marketing), February 1, 2000:
    E-mail Marketing Grows Up
  • Credit Union Magazine, February 1, 2000:
    E-mail takes marketing to the next level
  • South China Morning Post, January 18, 2000: does appear particularly apt

So now you know what is being said about ClickZ. Are you ready to find out what others are saying about you?

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