Academic journal article Public Relations Journal

Technology Gives Early Warning of News Breaks

Academic journal article Public Relations Journal

Technology Gives Early Warning of News Breaks

Article excerpt

With information traveling at lightning speeds, communicators explore new ways to deliver and monitor news that keep them ahead of the media and the competition

Want to know if your client or organization will be front-page news before the story is even published? No problem. With the advent of new methods of monitoring media, you can get notice before the news hits the stands or makes the airwaves.

Today's public relations practitioners can distribute information or tap into reports of media placements in literally seconds...or wait a week or two. Which format to use depends on the user's needs, budget and equipment available for collecting or disseminating data. In general, the more specific and timely the information sent or received, the more expensive it is.

Service companies are constantly coming up with new programs and applications to help public relations practitioners reach the media. Clipping services have upgraded their offerings with daily fax delivery and on-line media monitoring to match the client's clip profile.

Besides tracking pickup and competitive information, news wires - a tried and true method of delivery-offer targeted releases in specialty areas, such as investor relations, health care and environment. Both PR Newswire's and Business Wire's corporate releases have been available through on-line services, including America Online, CompuServe, Prodigy and Delphi. By allowing access to the Internet, software such as Pipeline and Mosaic broadens the reach of users to retrieve and exchange information with key audiences (see separate article, page 32).

Informational databases, such as LEXIS[R]-NEXIS[R], DataTimes[R] and Dialog, also carry press releases from the public relations wires, as well as AP, UPI, Reuters, Bloomberg and other commercial on-line services. Dow Jones and Company recently introduced a Windows-based interactive format to make searches more user friendly.

Many ways to document

Third party news providers who supply ready-to-print services offer users any number of ways to receive clips, from hard copy to faxes to e-mail. It's then standard practice for these services to document their placement efforts and media "hits." That's done with graphs, charts, business reply cards from editors and broadcast producers, and on-line monitoring from the wires or sites on the Internet.

The hierarchy of monitoring and distribution services resembles a pyramid with the most technologically complex on top. At the base of the pyramid are traditional clipping services and conventional paper press releases delivered in person or via the U.S. Postal Service, what technophiles call "snail mail."

News monitoring and distribution services form the next level. They allow practitioners to spend more time counseling and less time verifying names, stuffing envelopes or tracking down placements.

Near the top of the pyramid are purveyors of information that allow the client relative-time and/or real-time media access.

Looking for real-time news

On-line services assist those interested in "real-time" news breaks. Such customers are looking to react quickly to competitive or crisis developments as they happen. PR Newswire, Business Wire, AP and others provide such reporting and alerting capabilities as well. On-line databases such as LEXIS[R]-NEXIS[R], DataTimes and Dialog cull all the news sources mentioned above as well as hundreds more.

Another high-level innovation at the pinnacle of the pyramid, Desktop Data, delivers in real-time a wide range of on-line news sources to major user groups connected via a dedicated in-house LAN (Local Area Network). This type of system is only feasible for larger organizations with big bucks to spend.

Regardless of the on-line service chosen, users must obtain special software and often must pay access charges to connect with these sophisticated databases and/or download information from them. …

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