Public Relations.

Monitoring 2.0 By Deirdre Breakenridge (with an excerpt from PR 2.0)



As a PR professional, one of your major functions has always

been to create meaningful messages on behalf of your company and its

products/services, and then carefully monitor those messages in the market. In

traditional PR, you would work through a third party endorser, such as the

media, to deliver your message. Then, your favorite reading or clipping service

would gather your editorial and share it via hard copy or an electronic format.

When PR 2.0 surfaced, there was a lot buzz about the

“dangers” of brands communicating directly to consumers. Communications teams

have little, if any, control over what’s being said in the blogosphere. However,

if your brand is not joining in the conversations, then the conversations will simply

surface about your company in the form of opinions, without a chance for you to

engage and comment appropriately.

When brands decide to participate in social media, it’s a forward-thinking

decision. As a communications professional, you should encourage valuable

conversations with the confidence that PR 2.0 monitoring can track the threads

of conversations and keep your communications team abreast of the positive and negative

perceptions in the market.

The industry has made great strides to gather up content in

the blogosphere, so that brands are able to track conversations surrounding

their products and services. However, it’s up to those brands to decide what to

do with the information and what resources they will designate to the monitoring

process.

The Web universe is so sophisticated now that it requires

you to go beyond the pure numbers. A great example is the deal that PR Newswire

signed with Technorati, one of the leaders in blog

tracking, to provide more complete monitoring for the company’s clients. Technorati

provides PR Newswire’s customers with the ability to track online conversations

triggered by news releases. Today, both B2C and B2B companies are realizing the

importance of monitoring conversations and relying on blog monitoring to know

how their brands are being perceived in the market.

I

interviewed Mark Vangel, a research manager at Delahaye, and he shared some of

the challenges and solutions with 2.0:

.5in;">“It depends. There were times when we did daily reports.

We’ve analyzed blogs or discussion forums for certain issues and for tone, and

we’ve produced a report every day. That’s not always the case. In fact, that’s

more for a crisis situation. In one instance, there was a rumor spreading about

one of our clients, so they wanted daily information about where it appeared.

For something like the long wait at Starbucks, it’s definitely communication

they’d want to keep on the radar—weekly or monthly anyway. That obviously would

be much too long a time to wait for customers who are monitoring blogs. We have

self-service portals, as well, where clients can scan information

themselves.

.5in;">We have had clients who have acted online to clear up

misinformation or point individuals to some background data. Offline changes,

such as changing product features or company processes, often take longer. With

the Starbucks example, the company can dispatch people to stores and key

locations, and monitor the wait times. They can also survey the public, or

place comment cards in their stores, although those might take a little too

long to yield answers. If they’re wondering, “Is what I’m seeing in the blogs

representative of what the public feels?” they can conduct a survey or other

research methods. With awareness, there’s an opportunity for a company to fix

the problem or to change a product or service to make it better. Without it,

you might be blindsided as criticism grows.”

Of course,

the question looms: how is monitoring

going to change in the next ten years? As companies become more involved in

monitoring and measurement, they will want more complex, technologically

advanced products. These products must

be able to deliver the data instantaneously. Lastly, because the accountability

model in PR has changed over the years, having those 25 clips in a clip book

isn’t good enough. We need monitoring

that meets the challenges of a Web 2.0 world and, thankfully, today’s PR monitoring

is changing with the times.

Author:.

Deirdre K. Breakenridge is President, Director of Communications at PFS Marketwyse. A veteran in the PR industry, Deirdre leads a creative team of PR and marketing executives strategizing to gain brand awareness for their clients through creative and strategic public relations campaigns. She counsels senior level executives at companies including AmerisourceBergen, JVC, Kraft, Michael C. Fina, RCN Metro and Secure Horizons. Deirdre is an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in...

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