Monday, January 30, 2006

The lengths that some PR people will go to...

Gotta love the folks over at Conchango, who are raising money for the Duke of Edinburgh Award. I had to donate to their cause - couldn't resist after the email I got from their fab PR manager:

"As some of you may be aware I’ve volunteered to do this year's 3 peaks challenge in aid of the Duke of Edinburgh award. I’m taking on the challenge with my team members from Conchango and we’ll be donning pink ballerina tutu’s to demonstrate our agility and flexibility whilst frog marching up and down the 3 highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales - Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon.

Those of us who are brave, noble, or just plain stupid, will try to do all 3 within the space of 24 hours - The Three Peaks Challenge. There is no official body, or definition of the Three Peaks Challenge. It is generally accepted that to complete the challenge you must ascend and descend all three peaks, and drive (or be driven) between them, within 24 hours."

A couple of things caught my attention about this call to action - pink's my favourite colour, I believe in the Duke of Edinburgh award and it made me chuckle. On top of all of which - anyone braving UK peaks in tutu's at this time of the year, must be mad.

Good luck team Conchango!

New leaders of media?

There's an interesting story in today's US PR Week - Market Focus: New leaders of new media, about how some companies are pro-actively using blogs in their PR initiatives. The editor profiles four campaigns that successfully used blogs.

I thought the comment from Weber Shandwick's Mike Spataro about the skills that PROs of the future will require, is pretty spot on. He said:
'The PR pro of the future is going to be someone who will not only possess great PR skills, which will always be important, but they're going to have to be digital communicators to deliver messages that are based on the technology and lifestyle of today's consumer.'

I was also really pleased to see that David Scott's e-book about the new rules of PR, has been a successful example of using blogs to get a message out. He's had over 20,000 downloads since he launched it on 16 January!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

PR Buzzword Bingo: product vs solution

Every industry creates its own jargon, but the tech industry is renown for coining phrases and over-using terms to the point of abuse.

Take the word “solution” for example. Anecdotally, I would have thought that usage of that word overtook the term “product” ages ago. All you hear about these days are SOLUTIONS!

I typed both terms into the whizzy new Factiva Search 2.0 to see how frequently both terms were being used, and which companies and industries were most frequently associated with those terms.

Surprisingly, there were more mentions of the term “product”, with 273854 articles in the last ninety days referencing this term, compared with the 109470 articles that mentioned “solution”.

Not surprisingly, the industries most associated with the term “product” were Computers/Electronics, Pharmaceuticals, Software, Telecommunications and Health Care. It was interesting to note that the largest mentions of the term came from Business Wire and PR Newswire, presumably via press releases or other PR-generated material.

Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Barclays, General Motors and Intel had the most product-related news in the last ninety days.

When it came to “solution”, the IT giants predictably ranked highest in their use of their word. Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, HP and Intel were all associated heavily with the term “solution”, although Microsoft’s association with it was nearly more than double that of IBM’s in the last ninety days. As the largest software company in the world, that’s not surprising.

What is interesting however, is to see where and how that term is picked up in different media. Factiva Search 2.0 instantly lets me click down to a subset of the total results into different media types including Newspapers, Magazines and NewsWires. In the case of Microsoft, which resulted in a total of 1024 news items being associated with the term “solution”, 125 of those items were reported in Newspapers and 157 in magazines, compared with the 590 mentioned in Newswires.

These ratios would no doubt be similar for other tech companies. Perhaps a conclusion we can draw, is that many PR practitioners (and yes, I can put my hand up as being guilty of this too), are using terminology in press releases that is simply not being picked up in the media. Would we ever dare not to use the term “solution” in a press release?

Fortunately, Factiva Search 2.0 can immediately highlight how and where messaging is being picked up, what terms are hot (and over-used) and which companies are most frequently associated with them. The challenge for PR practitioners is to find the balance between using what has become almost-mandatory jargon and producing clear, effective communications to the target audience.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

New rules of press releases - free e-book by David M. Scott

Online Marketing Expert David M. Scott has just released a snazzy new e-book about the The new rules of PR: How to create a press release strategy for reaching buyers directly.

It talks about how the changing media landscape presents an opportunity for PR professionals to engage with their customers and potential buyers directly.

Definitely worth a read!

Not all search is created equal - early praise for Factiva Search 2.0

The tagline for our Factiva Search 2.0 advertising campaign is "Not all search is created equal" - and early feedback from industry analysts and the media indicates that they agree.

Roger Whitehead, a senior analyst at Bloor Research wrote today in a report entitled Factiva Search 2.0 - An Images Mirror, that :

"Public search engines on the Web have taught computer users the value of search but not of good searching. Sites like Google and Yahoo! give too many off-target results to be usable as line-of-business tools. Only specialised information delivery products and services can provide the relevant, filtered and intelligent results that users can reliably act on with confidence...Factiva's new Search 2.0 service is an example of this sort of tool.

The report went on to say that:

"The objective—which I think it achieves—is to present to a relatively unskilled user a quality of result that, normally, only a trained information analyst could achieve."

Mark Chillingworth from Information World Review also praised the new search functionality:

"Information World Review was given a sneak preview of the service prior to launch and was impressed. The search interface is crisp and discreet with more than a passing resemblance to Google. Results for in-depth searches are delivered incredibly quickly. To the right of the main search results are the additional features, included related news clusters, companies, industries and subjects. It is all well laid out, well defined and easy to use."

For PR and communications professionals who need to work faster than the speed of online news production, having the power to find relevant and credible information quickly is not a luxury - rather a basic job requirement. I'm sure that our many customers in PR agencies and inhouse communications teams will see immediate benefit from this exciting new search capability.

Factiva Search 2.0 is launched!

It's all go here today! We're launching a preview of our awesome new search functionality, Factiva Search 2.0 to our 1.8 million subscribers. We claim that Factiva Search 2.0 improves the way business information is found and understood. And it really does!

If I need quick facts about Tony Blair, a search in Factiva Search 2.0 instantly reveals the news today that police foiled an attempted kidnapping of his son. The left hand section of the search results returns a list of headlines from Factiva's collection of highly credible news sources. Over on the right hand side of the screen, the really cool stuff kicks in.

Charts show me the media references about Tony Blair in recent weeks, and I can click onto any of the columns to see related news items for that week.

The News clusters functionality actually discovers terms that are most frequently used in conjunction with the main search term, so if I was not aware of the kidnapping story, it would instantly highlight that to me.

In the same search, Factiva Search 2.0 provides me with a list of companies and industries most frequently associated with the search term "Tony Blair". I notice that the BBC gets the most mentions in the last 90 days, followed by Lloyds of London and Rolls-Royce Group. If I were the PR Manager for those companies, I'd be clicking into those charts to investigate further.

Factiva Search 2.0, as some of our early users have pointed out, is highly addictive. For news junkies and PR types, its an awesome research tool. It can provide quick snippets for pitches, background research on virtually any topic, and the charts provide a quick "pulse" to identify what really is going on in the news.

Stay tuned for more snippets out of Factiva Search 2.0!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Factiva Insight: Reputation Intelligence up for PR Week Innovation Award

It's award season! Factiva Insight: Reputation Intelligence is a finalist in PR Week's Innovation of the Year and we're eagerly awaiting the awards ceremony on March 2.

Constantin Basturea points out that:

"3 out of the 5 finalists in the 2006 Best Use of the Internet category are blog-related; two of the agencies nominated for the prize are blogging.

3 out of the 5 finalists in the in the PR Innovation of the Year category are about: wikis, weblogs, and blog monitoring; again, two of the agencies nominated for the prize are blogging.

3 out of the 5 finalists for PR Professional of the Year are blogging.

As per my previous post, all indications are that blogging is not going to go away any time soon.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Will it be the Year of the Blog?

While debates rage as to whether blogs represent a true opportuity or threat to communications professionals, the blogosphere continues to grow at staggering speed - Factiva launched a couple of series of whitepapers around blogs. The first explores how public relations and marketing professionals use blogs to research and understand how the market perceives their company and products.

The second white paper looks at the creation of blogs by organizations as a way to contribute to the worldwide online conversation. It covers how public relations and marketing professionals write blogs themselves or encourage subject-matter experts in their organisations to do so.

One subject-matter expert, our CEO Clare Hart, has just launched her own blog, From the Hart. She'll be looking at the world of enterprise information and search. We're really looking forward to seeing how this evolves into a communication vehicle via which Clare can share her expertise, comment on the market and engage with Factiva's publics. Check it out!

Why PR people annoy journalists

Happy new year! Three weeks in the Australian sun cut into my blogging time, and I've been a bit slow off the mark in getting my thoughts together for this blog.

I was chatting with a journalist this week, and we got into a discussion/whinge about bad PR practices. I somehow landed on a media distribution list where I'm listed as an editor rather than an inhouse PR Manager. With the names Dow Jones and Reuters in Factiva's tagline, I guess people could be mistaken for thinking that I actually can do something with their press releases.

What amazes me is the sheer volume of JUNK I'm sent from both PR agencies and PR professionals that is theoretically meant to be newsworthy. There was the press release from a tourism PR agency who's big call to action for journalists was a free colonic irrigation if they booked a holiday in the Baltics - "Boweled over by the Baltics" the headline screamed. Eek! Having just seen a documentary on colonic irrigation, I thought it was the most revolting call to action I've ever seen.

Then there was the PR Manager who sent me an unsolicited email containing 6MB worth of pics of her spokespeople, and jammed my email for 15 minutes.

In my year of being on this media distribution list, only one person followed up with me after they'd sent my press release (and she only did so to ask why I had deleted her message without reading it - that it had been declared a public holiday in Kalamazzoo was not of interest to me, so I didn't bother opening the email).

Its no wonder that journalists often have limited patience for PR people. If they're being bombarded with as much useless PR-generated material as I am, I'd resent every email I received.

It doesn't take much to research a publication and journalist to know what they're writing about and what would be of interest to them. Some PR professionals could improve their effectiveness 100% if they merely took the time to do so!