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PR Firms Build New Tools for Social Monitoring, Metrics

While public relations practitioners have long been in the business of tracking media coverage for their clients, a growing number of firms are beefing up their digital media monitoring and measurement capabilities and developing new and innovative tools that bring together both traditional and social media content under one umbrella.

The latest example of such an effort was announced earlier this month by Omnicom's Fleishman-Hillard, Inc., which has partnered with business and analytics firm evolve24 to create a system that integrates both traditional and social media - including conversations that take place on blogs, Twitter, and other online forums.

As the system, called "The Mirror," continuously captures the data - which also includes online news, journal articles, wire coverage and broadcasts - it analyzes it and provides real-time metrics based on topic, stakeholder, sentiment, share of voice, influence and reputation impact, among other things.

The application also can provide user-friendly dashboards so clients and PR teams can keep real-time tabs on media coverage to help manage reputation, risk and stakeholder relations.

The result, according to Fleishman-Hillard, is a "complete, accessible and immediate view of the full spectrum of conversation that provides a clear picture of the emerging issues and opportunities a company faces."

Mining Twitter

In addition to Edelman's recent rollout of Tweetlevel, Waggener Edstrom launched another PR monitoring and measurement initiative earlier this year. The Twitter-mining platform, Twendz, was originally free, but has recently been enhanced for paid use. The WE twendz pro service uses a keyword-based approach to determine general emotion of coverage. Meaningful words in each tweet are compared against a dictionary of thousands of words that are associated with positive or negative emotion; each word receives a score that, when combined with the other scored words, allows the WE twendz pro service to make an educated guess at the overall emotion of a tweet.

After the WE twendz pro service scores a handful of tweets matching certain criteria, it extracts key terms, assigns an emotion rating to each of those, and assembles them in a word cloud.

Aggregating Feeds

MWW Group also has developed a free mobile app that delivers real-time news, articles and opinions relevant to public relations, marketing, advertising and social media. It uses public-RSS feeds from a group of blogs and news sites within the industry and then aggregates the content. The app features full-feed item caching, including images, for offline access. Users can add categories and additional feeds as needed. M.insight also offers the ability to monitor social media from a smartphone by leveraging MWW Group's social media monitoring service, D.insight. This particular feature is activated through a paid subscription.

Social Media Metrics

Although not technically a PR firm, PR Newswire has also thrown its hat into this particular ring, with the recent launch of Social Media Metrics, an intelligence tool powered by Sentiment Metrics that can monitor, analyze and measure the impact of what is being said about an organization, brand, spokesperson or competitor across the social media landscape. It monitors over 20 million blogs, 5 million forum posts, and 30,000 online news sources, social networks and microblogs including Twitter and allows users to build customized searches to track specific keywords.

Benefits to Listening In

It is not surprising these tools all focus on listening to conversations across social media networks. A recent report by Aberdeen Group, "Social Media Monitoring: Why It Pays to Listen to Online Conversation" found that, despite substantial cutbacks in marketing spend, 50% of all companies are increasing their investment level in social media monitoring initiatives. Aberdeen's research also established that the insights derived from social media monitoring and analysis can benefit multiple parts of the organization, from marketing, sales, public relations, customer service, market research to product management.

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