What are people saying about your company?

January, 2000

Question
In the good old (pre-Internet) days, corporate communications and marketing departments used specialized "clipping" services to find ads in the print and broadcast media. Librarians used commercial database services to find articles that mentioned the company and its products.

To get a truly comprehensive picture of what people are saying about a company today, you'd need to track:

  • articles from magazines, newspapers, conference proceedings, and other publications;

  • databases such as job listings, public records, or directories;

  • ads placed in the print and broadcast media;

  • Web pages and Web links;

  • Listserv and news group postings.

One Society member asked for suggestions about how to track news groups, listservs, and Web sites. See below for a summary of responses.

Answer
A recent article, "Policing the digital rumor mill," describes three commercial services that use programs and human beings to sift through Web pages, search engine entries, and comments on Internet news groups. Clients can pay from $30,000 to $100,000 for services like these.

e-Watch, recently sold by parent company Wavo to PRNewsWire, provides a daily update of everything being said about a company. Notices are delivered by e-mail with links that go to a Web site with a full report.

Cyveillance scours the Net for Web sites that sell product knockoffs, offer stolen content, or make defamatory remarks about Cyveillance clients. For example, the Arlington, Va., outfit uncovered $6 million of potential music-licensing violations in the second half of 1998 by fingering sites using songs without permission. For more information, see "Cyveillance: helping to keep the Web honest."

Issue Dynamics, an Internet "strategic communications" firm, offers a monitoring service designed to identify emerging interest in issues that may impact a company, rumors containing inaccurate information, and product "bugs." More information on its Internet Monitoring service is available on the company's Web site.

Less expensive options
For some Society members, inexpensive personal services work well. One of these is Karnak, a unique service that allows users to construct their own personal library, stored on the Karnak server, which will be constantly updated while they are offline. Users can select news groups as one of the categories to be searched. Results come by e-mail, and the cost is $10 per month for up to 25 search profiles.

Bullseye Pro by Intelliseek, a $149 program that queries over 450 search engines and databases, is similar.

Another option, less direct, can be to embed code on an intranet page so that particular searches take place on the company name.  Both Dogpile and Northernlight allow such code to be embedded.  In this case, whenever one goes to (or refreshes) the intranet home page, one always has a section with the latest search results for the company.

One company uses a free version of Netmind to monitor one site for new material. They also used Deja (News) to monitor all chat groups that  mentioned a number of key drugs, via links with the appropriate embedded query. For more information, see "Current awareness services" on the Best of BUSLIB-L page.

Related services
Other members suggested the alert services of commercial database vendors, such as Dow Jones Interactive Custom Clips. These services, however, are designed to monitor published material, not Web sites or news groups.

For suggestions on monitoring ads placed by companies, see "Advertising clipping services" from the Best of BUSLIB-L page.

Advice
"Often times I have heard from other colleagues how they have negotiated big contracts with these types of vendors only to realize a limited amount of what the service offers is valuable to the firm. Its important to not bite off more than you need. Often you can purchase components of the service to custom info needs."

"I don't use automated news services for the following reason. If I'd keep the gateway wide open (e.g., "everything about General Motors"), I would be swamped by a glut of irrelevant hits. If I'd keep the gateway narrow (e.g., "everything that gets published by the Wall Street Journal on overhead camshafts produced by General Motors"), I would miss relevant information which I did not expect. Hence, I thoroughly believe it takes human experts to filter content for my purposes."

We aren't aware of any service that does everything -- print and broadcast ads, magazine and newspaper articles, Web sites, and news groups.

Created on January 1, 2000 l Updated on February 18, 2013