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Happy Holidays from CustomScoop!

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For those solo PR pros…

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We’re proud to offer a powerful yet still reasonably priced media monitoring platform, and the fair pricing model is one reason we are fortunate to serve a number of solo Public Relations practitioners.

This is a group that we love to work with, and we spend time researching what individual practitioners need from a monitoring platform. Truth be told, it’s not that different than what any other company or agency wants from a monitoring platform: fast, accurate results from traditional and social media channels; a robust set of tools to help analyze, export, and report the data; and offer those things at a fair price.

The Solo PR Pro Twitter chat, hosted by Kellye Crane, is a great spot to listen and learn–so, if you’re a CustomScoop client with your own PR/Marketing practice and you haven’t participated in her chat, I encourage you to put it on your calendar for next year (the last chat for this year was held today). And, if you’re interested in the community, please take a moment to respond to Kellye’s survey.

A look at the newsletter feature…

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As mentioned in the post about the launch of CustomScoop’s new user interface, one of the new features is the ability to sort, manage, and arrange content for either one-time delivery or set up as a scheduled delivery.

In other words, you can arrange your results within CustomScoop’s tool, rather than creating a newsletter in another program. This saves tremendous amounts of time–we use this feature every day in the Professional Services group preparing reports for clients.

How does it work?

For Professional Services accounts, we’re typically sorting through the content and applying some level of additional categorization or analysis. We’re rating the content on sentiment, applying client-designated tags to speed up analysis, and adding notes and comments. Sometimes the client reports will contain all of the content the system collects, other times the clients just want to know what the most influential blogs and online sources are saying about issues of interest to them.

Either way, the next step after reviewing the results is to select the “newsletter” tab, where there are several templates for newsletter designs–do you just want to send content? No problem. Want to include a chart? No problem. Just select the template, and off you go! If you need a custom template to match a client’s newsletter design, contact us. We’ve had great success in developing custom templates for clients. (There is a charge for this, but it’s a one-time set up fee.)

Next, select a report or enter the parameters you want included by selecting “create a report.” You can select the length of time the newsletter should cover, and what content do you want included (only rated and tagged material, or only items rated positive, for example). Then sort if you’d like to–by Alexa ranking, time, headline, source name, or circulation.

The wizard will then walk you through the remaining steps, such as adding a logo or chart (if that’s the template selected) or adding header or footer text.

You can then save the criteria, and schedule the report to run and send automatically. It’s an easy, fuss-free way of generating a polished report.

CustomScoop's Autumn Release: Fresh Look, More Content, Faster Results

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The team at CustomScoop has been hard at work during the past few months, and we’re thrilled to announce some exciting changes to the CustomScoop product line. The first thing users will notice is our new user interface. From a collapsible left side bar, which makes your results easier to see and review, to new page headers and new help files, our look is fresh, clean, and easier to navigate. But looks aren’t everything, now are they? So we have also improved core features of the system.

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Survey Says…

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Every year, CustomScoop surveys its clients, to see what we’re doing right and where we can improve. We’ve recently sent out our annual survey, and the results thus far have yielded some interesting information. I won’t get too specific as the survey is ongoing (if you’re a CustomScoop client, it’s open until June 30th for you to send us your thoughts), but a few key items do stand out.

Not surprisingly, our strongest results and best numbers come from responses to questions about our customer care. We love our clients and know our company is only as strong as our relationship with our customers. Anyone who has worked with our customer care team knows that they do whatever is possible within their powers to get what our clients need. In some cases, that has meant pulling one (or more!) of our developers into the mix to figure out a solution for a client.

Regarding the system itself, thus far, there’s about a 50/50 split between people who primarily access their content through the automated email delivery versus logging into the system dashboard. Again, this is unsurprising as we know that for a significant portion of our clientele, committing the time to work within a dashboard doesn’t work for their day–they are on the move, so our results are too. And also not a surprise, the vast majority–more than 70 percent so far–use the system daily.

What was surprising–to me at least–were a handful of questions about including Ad Value Equivalency (AVE) or something similar. While this was suggested by a very, very small number of respondents, I’m surprised it was requested at all. Yes, I know that for some this is what they know and understand. But I don’t think we’ll be providing anything like that in the future for a few reasons:

  • First, the Institute for Public Relations does not recognize AVE as a measurement tool, for all of the standard reasons: earned media is not the same as paid media, multipliers put in place to try and make them the same are also questionable, and it’s just bad math and bad logic.
  • Second, to calculate AVE, CustomScoop would have to collect the advertising rates from the thousands of publications we monitor. Advertising rates can vary widely, and the published rate is usually different than the negotiated rate.
  • Building a measurement standard we don’t believe in that shifts constantly into our tool would not be wise.

Trust me–I do sympathize with anyone who is being asked for this information. It can be tough or darn near impossible to wean off of this number, but it’s important to start. The PRSA website has some alternatives to suggest. Weighted Media Cost (WMC), while presenting some of the same issues, at least has some research behind it and might be a place to start.

The Professional Services Division

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I’ve written before about how our internal team of analysts uses CustomScoop’s ClipIQ service, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to explain a bit more about what the team does for clients on a daily basis. The shortest description of how to view ClipIQ: it can either be a DIY program where the end client sorts through the data themselves, or our internal team of analysts does the work and then provides the end client with the analyzed results of the data collected.

Anyone who has set up a monitoring program, whether it is focused on blogs or mainstream media (or both), knows that the key to finding good content is setting up keywords that are tight enough to screen out much of the irrelevant content, but not so tight that a story or blog post is missed by constructing keywords that are too specific. By casting the net a bit wider, sometimes volume will increase significantly. For a single keyword, or just a handful, the significant increase in volume that occasionally happens might be challenging, but it can be managed.

But if a monitoring program tracks a variety of topics in several areas, resulting in hundreds or thousands of blog posts, Tweets, and clips a day–and that content needs to be read, rated (I’ll address why we don’t use automated sentiment analysis in a post at a later date), and then analyzed–it’s a significant time commitment, often hours a day. For some organizations, dedicating an employee to spend hours a day reviewing content isn’t a cost-effective solution, especially as it requires someone with sufficient experience to understand the nuances of the client account. CustomScoop’s Professional Services Division does this work for our clients, providing a finished product that contains the “actionable intelligence” clients can then use for briefings, reports, or to incorporate into communications strategies. This is particularly valuable for clients unable to dedicate part of every day to reviewing content. Reviewing daily is a must, due to the speed of online conversations.

Our analysts also spot things that machines can’t–posts that are relevant to a client’s interests that don’t match any of the account keywords exactly, for example. Or, they can spot trends in the client’s space that might be of interest. They have also, on a number of occasions, highlighted particularly damaging posts that could have been overlooked in a sea of hundreds of daily results–either lost in volume or because they weren’t on large blogs (yet).

Choosing to engage with the Professional Services Division typically revolves around two primary areas: one, if the volume for the client is substantial enough that it’s more cost-effective to have us do the work; or two, if the client doesn’t have the internal flexibility to dedicate time or personnel to reviewing content every day.

CustomScoop’s Professional Services Division acts as an extension of our clients, doing the monitoring, rating, and analysis so that they can focus on acting on the intelligence we’ve gathered.

How To: Tackle a Mountain of Clips

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CustomScoop’s Professional Services Group–our in-house team of analysts–reviews thousands of clips a week for clients. Although each client is different, one task that has to be tackled daily is to review clips and produce reports for clients, using CustomScoop’s ClipIQ service. The team of analysts uses the Team edition, our most robust version of ClipIQ.

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Reputation Vampires

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Sometimes, the need to monitor from a reputation management perspective hits really close to home. We recommend clients use our service to closely monitor their mentions online to alert them to any potential problems or negative posts, and of course we use the system ourselves.

At CustomScoop, we’re very proud of the work we do and are accustomed to coming across accolades more often than complaints. When we do see the occasional complaint, it’s something we’ll look at objectively, to see if there’s a way we can improve. We realize we can’t make everyone happy all the time, and that’s fine–it’s how we learn, refine, and improve our products and services.

On very rare occasions, there are the Reputation Vampires. They suck the life out of your day.

Today we came across a very negative complaint, where someone purporting to be a customer said that we failed to deliver on a job to remove posts from blogs made by a former employee.

We can certainly see how we would be unable to meet his expectations in this — it isn’t a service that CustomScoop provides. We’re an online media monitoring, measurement, and analysis firm, not a reputation repair firm. Clearly, the person leveling the complaint is at best confusing us with another firm–at worst? Let your imagination run wild.

It’s one thing to know that you shouldn’t chase every rabbit. But it can be difficult to heed that advice when someone levels a completely unfounded accusation at you. It’s even worse when you see that unfounded accusation on page one of your Google results. You want to ask the site to take the fraudulent accusation down, and that’s a natural–but in this era, futile–response. (As to the typical corporate response, we’re New Englanders and too cheap to call our lawyers. 

Smiley.png That doesn’t work either anyways.)

We tell clients all the time that it is important to have an active monitoring program, and that it’s incredibly useful to have a blog in place to use to correct the record and respond when needed. Check and check. We’ll continue to focus on what we do best: providing timely, accurate, online monitoring to our clients.

And, once more, with feeling: we do not offer reputation repair services!

CustomScoop's New & Improved Analytic Charts

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As the leaves continue to dazzle us here in New England with their vibrant colors, our Dev Team has added some great new enhancements to our Analytic Charts within our ClipIQ Media Monitoring solution for you to dazzle your customers with brilliant charts & graphs.

Within ClipIQ, we have an Advanced Analytics Wizard that allows our Customers to create their own analytical charts to be used for media measurement, competitive analysis, key performance indicators, etc.  It is a great way to have a visual representation of the data in their account and create stunning graphs for their reports.  Our Customers have always loved this feature of our product, and based on their feedback, we’ve made it even better!

Some of the features we’ve added include a more user friendly interface, depth control for 3D charts, the ability to add Custom Titles, control over Tick Mark Intervals, creation of Custom Chart Sizes and the ability to Reorder Criteria.  As a bonus, we also added the ability to create Area Charts.  We just rolled out the feature this week and so far, the overall Customer response has been fantastic!

But don’t take our word for it, try it out for yourself.  We offer a no obligation 14 day free trial of our ClipIQ Media Monitoring solution.  Simply click here and try it out for yourself.

CustomScoop Sponsors Maine Public Relations Council Annual Conference

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Mark your calendar!  CustomScoop is proud to once again be a sponsor of the Maine Public Relations Council’s Annual Conference.  This year’s conference will be held on October 15, 2009 at the Wyndham Hotel in South Portland.  They have a great line-up of speakers, including Peter Shankman of HARO fame!

This is a great local event and is always a lot of fun.  I know I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at the event.  For more information, please visit the Maine Public Relations Council website.


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