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Evaluating the media: November 2006

PR geekiness - the tools & techniques to gain insights from PR exposure

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Automatic analysis

Evidence is that news monitoring is becoming increasingly automated, largely as a result of the increasing amount of news available via the internet. Many acknowledge that traditional cuttings agencies are about 85% accurate and evidence is that about 75-80 percent of news is available via an online feed.

Is this drive for automation going to enter the news analysis market? Well, it already has and competitors like VMS have produced ‘artificial intelligence’ linguistic analysers to research both qualitative and quantitative elements.

In effect this is an attempt to provide an automated measurement tool for favourability and messaging (accepted elements of qualitative research). Neuendorf, the leading academic on content analysis, disagrees with their introduction and says the human contribution to content analysis is paramount.

I know from experience that accurate analysis is a delicate process and one which needs detailed consideration. I am sure that in the coming years this issue will become increasingly central and it will increasingly polarise research providers and research users. I wonder what the PR community think about them?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

To be an inquisitive cow

A kindly sole helping with the Media Evaluation Research website has decided it would be interesting to substitute the photos on the new People page. Even though we have some professional photography it would seem a more 'amusing' option has won out!

To be honest I am undecided about the merits of being substituted for an inquisitive cow. I’ll grant that it is an interesting photo and much more arresting than the other options.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Is lobbying legitimate?

This morning I was at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations which was hosting a practitioner's roundtable discussion on the legitimacy of lobbying. This discussion was being led by Lionel Zetter, the CIPR President elect, and from the lobbying firm Political Wizard. Central to the issue was the apparent widespread misconception of lobbists aims and methods. It is a fascinating area and one which poses particular challenges regarding its justification. How one measures success of a public affairs campaign is tied up with its objectives and whether these can be measured.

In this regard public affairs campaigns are no different to PR campaigns. In my ear I can hear ringing the comment “you are what you measure” (KD Payne), a comment which I am convinced is foreign to many in public affairs.

On a broader level the discussion dealt with the risks facing the discipline and its reputation from scandals and associated misconceptions of what the sector has to offer. There was an acknowledgement that public affairs is only an option for those with money and Andy Sawford, from Connect Public Affairs raised the point that the industry can benefit from rejecting its ‘Godfatherly’ overtones. This was followed by Donna Castle from the British Lung Foundation saying that money is often not an issue and that much can be achieved with next to no budget.

On the matter of self regulation, Simon Nayyar, from Edleman suggested that the sector could do worse than model itself on the service perception of the legal profession, where the contribution is often more highly valued.

Lionel Zetter said that we may only be one scandal away from full legislative regulation and that this would be a retrograde step. Personally I would like to uphold the comments by Donna Castle and suggest to organisations that if they have a strategy and an issue to support which they believe public affairs can contribute towards, they can achieve an awful lot themselves, irrespective of the budget.

To end I feel there is an educational message-that with basic guidance many can present an effective public affairs campaign using the tactics set out in books like ‘Public Affairs in Practice’ (Thompson and John, CIPR, 2006).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Previous post

Thanks to Glenn from Intelligent Measurement for sharing this report with us.

All publicity is good publicity

My father used to work for Townsend Thoresen, the UK based cross-channel car ferry firm, who suffered the tragic loss of a ship and many passengers lives in 1987. Up until then I think I honestly believed in adage above, but now I take a very different view and evidence can now prove this beyond all reasonable doubt.

A study from the US bases Institute of PR has show that not only do sales increase when positive coverage enters the media, but also that sales can drop when a bad news story gets out. The example quoted is from the US where a group of chest physicians said that all cough mixtures were useless. This graph illustrates sales of cough mixture in red, and the number of stories relevant to the physicians announcement in blue.

There are a couple of other interesting aspects to this research which I will leave for another day.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Partnership matters

I have got to say a massive thanks to Francis Ingham at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations who has drafted a wonderful quote for us to use as part of Media Evaluation Research’s adoption of the CIPR’s Partnership scheme:

"Against an increasingly complex media environment the Chartered Institute of Public Relations is finding its members are increasingly turning to Media Evaluation Research for their media analysis needs. We can strongly recommend all aspects of their quantitative and qualitative media research and consultancy services. Although a relatively new name to the market place we value their fresh perspective. We also acknowledge the organisations strong academic background and the many years of directly relevant experience in the sector."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Caption Competition

I was going to put this picture on some Christmas cards to be sent out to the PR community but I was thinking it could possibly be ‘spruced-up’ with a suitable caption.

I have only until the end of the week (24th November) before I need to get them printed but if anyone can suggest a suitably amusing version then you could win a bottle of champagne.

Airbrushing history

As the world’s information increasingly moves online so it would seem is our history and when information is electronically stored there is always a chance that it might be ‘modified’. This weeks MoneyWeek which recalled ex-FT editor Andrew Gowers prognosis that the future press won’t involve ink and dead trees. Of course one enduring feature of print is how it can record those spectacularly wrong predictions.

A recently written a paper called ‘Rewriting History’ alleges some selected revisions to a database recording corporate forecasts and earnings. They say that analyst names have been removed from the worst performing recommendations.

The implications for media tracking and analysis could be manifold, which works on the principle of certain publication and retrieval. The media mix is becoming so massive and diverse and the extra factor of alteration will only make it a greater challenge.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Don't forget about Wikipedia

I have been reviewing the various media evaluation entries on the Wikipedia. It is a fascinating reference platform and has some insightful descriptions and explanations. The entry for ‘Public Relations Measurement’ is comprehensive, if rather American in its approach. There is a straightforward entry for ‘Media Evaluation’ which I put on some months ago which needs to be modified and added to (any takers?).

There is also a quite concise entry for ‘media content’ which rather dwells on the social theories and theorists which have progressed the issue, although I have issue with the absence of any references to Kimberly Nuendorf, who has to be regarded as one instrumental player in its development.

One of the things I would like to do is continue researching other related entries and add some links to the various relevant areas with a view to creating an adaptive resource for the area of PR research.