Wednesday, December 20, 2006

PR News Online — Measuring Corporate Reputation, Part II: Unrolling The Road Map, Reaching A Goal

Here's a nice summary of one approach to corporate reputation measuring from the folks at PR News Online. Many of the typical points we talk about are mentioned (clearly agree on and define your objectives, techniques and metrics). The article concludes that reputation management is more of an art than science and is imperfect but that "the numbers it provides are just as good as those offered by, say, the marketing department." And adds this metaphore.

Have you ever heard the story of the two guys in a tent contemplating the bear
outside? As one laced up his shoes to make an escape, the other looked on in
disbelief and said, 'What do you think you're doing? You can't outrun a bear.'
The other just smiled and said, 'I don't have to outrun the bear. I just have to
outrun you.'

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Nine Hours Ahead

I just barely had time to unpack after the Factiva Social Media Roundtable trip to Palo Alto and I am off again -- this time to Germany and France to talk about media measuring in Europe.

We are holding a customer roundtable in Frankfurt on Wednesday. No bloggers at this one. It's more of a chance for Factiva to talk to our customers and prospects about media monitoring and about the new world of social media. My hunch is that Europe (I know it's dangerous to generalize) is a couple of steps behind the States on putting together corporate action plans on monitoring social media. It seems that outside of a few industries and locales in the States who already get it, much of rest of the U.S. is about 6 months behind. So I suspect Europe is 6-12 months behind that.

I'm eager to hear feedback on Wednesday to see if I'll be surprised or not.

An Aside (and generating my own customer content): Kudos to Continental Airlines who wisked me off my delayed flight into Berlin and onto my connecting Lufthansa flight. They met me at the door of the plane, ran me to a waiting car and we zipped across the tarmac -- but too bad they couldn't get my bag to my second plane as quickly. (Huzzah to Lufthansa, who several hours later brought it to my hotel.)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Day After -- My Head's Still Spinning

My head is still spinning from last night -- and not from the wine. There is simply so much to digest after a night with two dozen people who spend a lot of time thinking about the meaning of social media.

What I'm saying is the Factiva Roundtable we held last night in Palo Alto was a success. Just about everyone in the room seems completely engaged and continued the conversations through drinks and dinner. Jeremiah Owyang, our guest emcee from PodTech, did a wonderful job and has written an amazingly complete post within hours of the event. He also managed to take some wonderful photos.

Huge thanks to Daniela, who took on this project with gusto because she just loves this stuff. Thanks also to Matt Toll, Saurabh Goorha and Sally Hammond, the others on our little team, for the hours they put into preparing for the event.

We are going to be working quickly to create some outputs from this -- white paper, blog posts, podcasts, etc. More on that soon.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Social Media Roundtable Attendees

As I stated previously, we're expecting 23 thought leaders at the Factiva Social Media Roundtable today in Palo Alto. With the 6 of us leading the event, we've maxed out the room. The intent was always to keep this intimate. Daniela created a wiki and asked the attendees to post their names if they wished. Respecting those wishes I only list those who did so to date:

  • Andrew Lark, Founder, group lark
  • Ed Terpening, VP Social Media, Wells Fargo, Wells Fargo Blog Index
  • Christopher Kenton, MotiveLab,
  • Jeanette Gibson, New Media Communications, Cisco,,
  • Brian Solis, FutureWorks PR, / PR2.0,
  • Ian Kennedy, Product Manager, Yahoo, flashpoint
  • Jeremy Pepper, Social Media, Weber Shandwick / POP! PR Jots
  • Jory Des Jardins, Co-Founder, BlogHer, LLC;
  • Mike Manuel, Strategist, Voce Communications, Media Guerrilla
  • Andrew Vignolo, Director, Market Trends & Analytics, Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Jeff Beckman, Director, Worldwide and U.S. Communications, Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Tony Obregon, Director of Social Media, Cohn & Wolfe

The attendees are a mix of PR/measurement practitioners, independent bloggers and social media thought leaders.

The Questions: Should social media be measured by business?

Daniela Barbosa (Factiva integration sales), Saurabh Goorha (Insight product manager) and I met for dinner with Jeremiah Owyang and John Aguilar of PodTech last night. The intent was to prepare for the Factiva Social Media Roundtable which is taking place in a few hours in Palo Alto.

(Jeremiah is just settling in at his new job at PodTech and you can tell he's jazzed because he can now focus all of his efforts on social media -- clearly where his heart is. )

Here are some of the questions we are going to be asking our slate of 23 social media thought leaders:

  • Do you believe social media is important to the business community? If so should it be measured?
  • Who is creating Social Media? What are they creating? And is the who more important then the what?
  • If you are producing Social Media as part of your PR/Marketing plan, how will you measure ROI?
  • Do you think that Social Media needs a structured, mutually agreed upon measurement techniques and metrics (e.g. MSM's ad value equivalence and article impressions) to make monitoring a more serious practice?
  • So what should be measured, and how do you want it delivered?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Do your colleagues still tilt their heads when you say 'social media'?

Here's a concise overview of "social media" from Spannerworks, an SEO company. The PDF is somewhat basic, but it's a nice tearaway to hand to your colleagues who still tilt their heads when you talk about "conversations" that don't happen face to face.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Factiva's First Social Media Roundtable

A few months back several of us in the Product Development group at Factiva got into some conversations with Jeremiah Owyang, then of Hitachi Data Systems, about social media measurement. (Jeremiah has since moved on to Podtech.)

The conversation started around a product of ours, Factiva Insight, that Hitachi is using. Jeremiah basically told us, (paraphrasing) "hey, the product is pretty impressive, but it doesn't really suit my particular needs in the measurement of social media." We thought we were doing a pretty good job but we were open to hear about why Jeremiah disagreed.

Those discussions, helped greatly by the coolest Factiva employee, SF based Daniela Barbosa, grew into the idea that we should hold a roundtable event and learn from those who are in the social media what we could be doing differently and what the state of the social-media-measurement space is.

So, Dec. 5 at Zabbio in Palo Alto about five of us lucky folks from Factiva and 20 or so big brains in social media will spend a few hours chatting about where social media measurement is going.

It is an invitation only roundtable with no audience. But we will produce from it stuff like a podcast, video clips and a paper of some sort (which the always witty Matt Toll has promised will be spectacular -- no pressure).

Daniela and Jeremiah , who's agreed to emcee the event, have already been posting about it (I've been under water with my real job, not that they're just sitting around, I know.)

But I'm going to try to catch up and post some of the questions here that we will be throwing out to the participants. This will give people a chance to start a discussion online before and after the event.

More soon.

Friday, November 10, 2006

MSM Just Keeps Taking Blog Prophets' Word for It

Michael S. Malone writing on ABC News's Web site has taken Technorati's word for it that the Blogosphere is N big. Technorati says 57 million blogs? OK, the number must be 57 million. 100,000 new blogs a day? 1 billion bloggers by 2010? Yup, they must be right.

Nowhere is the question that these numbers are at best only part of the story and at worst an exaggeration. How can you not even mention all the blogs that are created one day and abandoned the following week? Or the fact that many bloggers have multiple blogs? Or all the spam blogs that get counted as real blogs? It's lunacy.

57 million blogs ever created hardly equals 57 million people now blogging.

The number of active bloggers is growing and it's probably an impressive number but there are lots of caveats to those numbers and to understand their meaning the MSM has to ask questions. Remember J-school guys?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Lexis-Nexis Survey Shows News Still Comes from the MSM

I hope Lexis-Nexis didn't spent too much money on
this survey which revealed that people don't turn to blogs to find out about breaking news.

I'm not sure why that question is even being asked. Is L-N feeling that threatened by new media? Do people really believe that bloggers are going to replace journalists? With few exceptions, bloggers aren't going out there interviewing sources, working beats, going to press conferences, running to crime scenes and working a Rolodex(TM) (did I just date myself?). Bloggers are performing analysis of the work that journalists do.

They say that journalists write the first draft of history. Bloggers, it seems, are now writing the second.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

ROI of Blogging from Forrester

Charlene Li, an analyst at Forrester, presented a Webinar today on the ROI of Blogging. Some of it was basic, at least for those who are at all familiar with corporate blogging, but she is an excellent presenter and made some good points:

-- Successful blog management requires measurement.
-- Recruitment blogs can be a very obvious place for companies to start blogging because hiring is all about reaching out to people -- and that's what blogs are all about.
-- Be honest with yourself about the potential risks your new corporate blog could have and put a risk management plan in place ahead of time.
-- When calculating ROI, remember that blogs have all different purposes (customer service, recruitment, loyalty marketing, product marketing, branding, sales gen, community relations, investor relations, etc.) so you have to start by outlineing your goals before you can measure success.

One note: The Webinar was hosted by Cymfony, a message measurement company which recently received top grades from Forrester's Brand Monitoring Wave report. I'm not saying there is any quid pro quo here, but it seems Forrester is just asking for raised eyebrows when it puts its name next to a company that was a focus of one of its reports. Full disclosure: Factiva Insight was also rated in the same report (and scored less well than Cymfony).

Monday, October 02, 2006

Netflix offers $1 million for a better review | CNET

Pretty interesting look into how
Netflix is looking to improve its results.

Exploding Batteries Hit Different Companies at Different Times

This analysis from Factiva Insight shows how discussion of the issue of the exploding laptop batteries hit different companies (Dell, Apple and Lenovo) at different times

Friday, September 29, 2006

Web 2.0 Media Acknowledged at PR Conference

Jim Macnamara, Chairman and CEO of CARMA International, the last speaker of the IPR measurement conference ended his comments with a sentiment not expressed by too many others during the 1 1/2 day meeting. Namely that Web 2.0-based communications such as blogs and wikis, he said, represent a fundamental change in communications because they are a two-way conversation. "It's only matter of time before we see [something such as] 'Wikinews' dwarf" the major media outlets of the world in impact, he said.

Such communications media are rewriting the rules of PR and media relations with new networks of communicators and connections being created, he said.

Bridging versus Buffering

Jim Grunig, professor emeritus at the University of Maryland, talked about where PR measuring has been and where it's going.

Grunig spoke about PR as a strategic management function not a messaging, publicity and media relations function.

He also talked about the concepts of Bridging (the public relations approach focused on interpersonal relationships) vs. Buffering (the mass marketing/advertising approach) to PR. More can be found in a paper he authored. The bigger the organization, he said, the more likely they were to use the latter, less-personal, more advertising-centered approach to PR.

Media Measurement Can be Tied to Financial Outcomes

Day two of the Summit on Measurement conference started with a case study from United Technologies and its study on measuring media relations messaging on financial outcomes.

The areas of communications that they rate themselves on include: Employee Relations, Customer Relations, Management Strength, the CEO, Corporate Culture, Brand and General Communications, Innovation, Capital Structure, and Cost Control.

They measure tangibles like financials and intangibles like leadership, human capital, technology, reputation, familiarity, favorability etc.

One side comment made that I found interesting: According to Jon Low, a partner at Communications Consulting Worldwide, the company who authored the study, "CEOs are enamored with innovation, but we've found that it's not a factor in [the company's] revenue growth;" it is the second lowest factor, he said.

8 Methods of Content Analysis

Inspired by the measurement bug, I was looking through some earlier notes of mine and came across this list of "methods of content analysis" originally published by The Institute for Public Relations. The list is theirs; the notes are mine.

1. Clip Counting (volume counts) -- called the "most basic and perhaps most antiquated"
2. Circulation and Readership Analysis -- reported in "total circulation" or "total readership and includes number or readers, demographic profiles of readers and other lifestyle data
3. Advertising Value Equivalence (AVE) -- reportedly the dollar value of media impressions based on how much it would cost to take out an ad in the publication where the article was published. It is said to be "generally discredited by PR practitioners and leading researchers" however the PR folks I've been talking with all say their clients often ask for it and they give 'em what they want.
4. Simple Content Analysis -- counts of documents about certain topics
5. Message Analysis -- counts of documents that include specific messages
6. Tonality/Sentiment/Favorability Analysis - assessment of the entire article and individual messages in the article
7. Prominence Analysis -- Importance of the hits based on publication name, day of the week, word count, location of article in publication, presence of art work, size of headline. Each element gets a weight and roles up to a score for the article
8. Overall Quality of Coverage -- combination of tonality, prominence, message inclusion and volume counts

Thursday, September 28, 2006

People like Pie charts

Here's the answer to the proper way to decide on how to visualize data. (Note: This link takes you to Comedy Central, which seems to make you click again on the video in the playlist on the right. Annoying)

Attendees at the Summit on Measurement

The 100 or so attendees at the Summit on Measurement conference could be broken down into the following groups: 1) PR agencies (DeVries, Fleishman Hillard, Ketchum, Millward Brown Precis, Ogilivy, Overkamp, Porter Novelli, RF Binder, Roper, MWW, KDPayne); 2) measurement vendors (Biz360, BurrellesLuce, Carma, Cyberalert, Cymfony, Delahaye, Echo Research, Factiva, PR Newswire, VMS) 3) end-users (Cephalon, E&Y, DaimlerChrysler, Florida Dept of Agriculture, GM, The Hartford, MetLife, Nortel, Shell, Southwest Airlines, Raythenon, Rockwell, United Technologies, SoCalEd, and several colleges and universities 4) academics

P&G Case Study Purports to Show PR ROI Beats other Methods

Mark Weiner, President and CEO of Delahaye, Bacon's presented a case study focused on PR
marketing mix modeling
(MMM) about a P&G new-product release in which he said the PR spend on the product had the best ROI of the four types of spends. For every dollar spent, the following sales were generated, he said: TV ($1.31), trades ($2.13), price promotions ($0.78), PR ($2.70). I'm not entirely clear how they got such exactly ROI figures, but that, it seems, is the MMM at work. (This was the first question that was asked by the audience. A: It's all in the data! which is able to show trends and very small, but meaningful spikes over time -- using regression analysis. For example, Mark said, they compare weeks where there were PR placements to weeks when there weren't PR placements.

The case-study was put together by three groups for
client P&G
, according to Mark's co-presenter, (the literally, fast-talking) Jim Allman, CEO,
DeVries PR
, a N.Y. boutique firm. He said the team that does the modeling is a 3rd party, not part of Delahaye or DeVries. "Delahaye and the modeler are getting paid lots of money, and the agency isn't," [laughter] he said. Modeling, he said, is very time-consuming and focused on the minutiae of the data.

For its long history as a super marketer, P&G has never tried to quantify PR results before, Allman said.

KD Payne Blogging Summit on Measurement

The inimitable
KD Payne
is also posting about the
Institute for Public Relations
4th Annual Summit on Measurement.

Shell Says it's Always Listening and Measuring the MSM

We heard a case study on Measurement in Reputation Tracking
from Bert Regeer, Head of global planning at Royal Dutch Shell, a company which has had its share of
reputation issues.

He talked about which audiences they measure (financial, community, government, media, NGOs, academics, business partners, general public and employees) in 15 countries. He also listed some metrics they focus on (favorability by country, favorability by audience, brand mapping to characteristics, stakeholder expectations of brands).

Regeer said they have traditionally looked mostly at MSM and are now starting to look at blogs (though I didn't get exactly how they're measuring them) because it used to be that journalists were "sirs, and very well respected" saying that the Blogosphere has greatly changed that.

Study Finds PR Is as Valuable as Advertising

I'm up at the Institute for Public Relations annual summit on measurement in New Hampshire. First up: we're listening to the findings of a study which compared the relative impact of the results of PR (i.e. a well-placed item in a newspaper) and advertising on the public. The study showed that after being exposed to one instance, there is no real difference between advertising and PR. (Huh.)

The study's co-authors (David Michaelson, principal of his New York PR firm, and Don Stacks, of the University of Miami) conclude that in the instance of introducing a new product, PR appears to be on equal footing with advertising in terms of impact. The study found that:
○ There is no difference on a person's intent to purchase after being exposed to one instance of advertising and one instance of a well-placed news story.
○ There is no statistically significant difference on "believability" between advertising and editorial
○ Increased information does not translated into increased believability

Not surprisingly the study's authors seemed pleased with the findings, which they say is one of the first to so strongly justify what they do. (Though some in the crowd of about 100 felt this was similar to other studies.)

Questions came up with how this can be carried over to an online or broadcast studies. Discussion also talked to whether the idealized parameters of the study (point-for-point placement of the advertising claims in the fictional NY Times article) would have meaning in the real world. The authors admitted this was a best-case scenario.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

John Battelle's Searchblog: Google Clarifies Philosophy Re: Content

A good post from John Battelle responding to Google's recent post about its content philosophy (inspired by their recent court loss in Belgium). John is spot-on that this post of Google's is an important one as it seems to clearly state that Google has no interest in becoming a content company and taking away market share from the MSM. Rather, it states clearly, that they continue to see themselves enhancing the online business of the MSM. Symbiotic -- not evil. Now, do we buy it?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Subjectivity Mining Discussion

An interesting coversation taking place
over here about automated sentiment tagging. This is something we're very interested in. It's a bit of a holy grail to do auto sentiment with high precision. The question is: Is good-enough, good enough.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monitoring Comments on MSM Sites

There is something of a growing trend whereby media Web sites are encouraging their readers to comment about articles directly on the the Web site. Read a story; post a comment. Makes a lot of sense.

I'm told by some colleagues in London that this is becoming particularly popular in Europe. So far I found one paper: The Guardian , which has put comments in its own area .

In The States, I found The Washington Post has comments on articles. CNet's has its Talkback feature, which is a free area requiring a username. USAToday links some of its articles to its blogs area for comment.

What I'm not certain about is whether these comments are being captured by any of the blog aggregators or other search engines. Technically they aren't blogs, nor are they message boards, nor are they necessarily easily captured by the major search engines when they spider the content.

Are these comments falling into the media monitoring ether?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Bloggers Hold Dell's Feet to the Fire -- Business Week

A great article from Business Week Online (spotted by Down Under eagle-eye Factiva colleague Lorraine Worley) credits bloggers with holding Dell and Apple's feet to the -- um -- fire in the wake of the recent laptop-battery story.

Business Week states:

"The cybermedia didn't merely expose the dangers of computers catching fire. They kept the heat on the manufacturers to do something about it and helped the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission [CPSC] conduct an investigation into the burning batteries."

Corporate America Behind the (Blog) Curve

A study from the Institute for Public Relations authored by Robbin Goodman concludes that, in the face of the growth of the Blogosphere, "many senior executives seem determined to doubt the Internet's power to alter business communications." It went on to state:

The survey revealed that only a very small number of top executives are convinced to “a great extent” that corporate blogging is growing in credibility either as a communications medium (5%), brand-building technique (3%) or a sales or lead generation tool (less than 1%). In contrast, most executives are somewhat or not at all convinced of blogs’ growing credibility in these areas, (62%, 74% and 70% respectively).

I ealier posted about another study with similar findings

If those of us who feel that blogging can, indeed, impact others' perceptions are right, more large companies are going to get blindsided as have Sony, Maytag, Kryptonite, Dell, McDonanld's Starbucks and others.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Les Echos Continues to Feature Text Mining Data

The Web site of French newspaper, Les Echos, continues to promote Factiva-sourced text mining data in an ongoing feature tracking the mentions of CAC40 CEOs in the press. We now have our own tab on their corporate news page, Palmarès

(I love the disembodied floating heads, BTW.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Google Gives Nod to the Value of Archived News

Google adds a feature to Google News, labeled News archive search, in which it has partnered with several news aggregators and news providers to provide its users easier access to deep archives of news. In a few instances this goes back more than 100 years, but most of the data is from the 1990s through the present, it would seem. News aggregators Factiva, Lexis-Nexis, High-Beam and possibly others provide slices of their deep archives. MSM folks like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post are there too.

It's a bit too early to digest the full impact of this. But I see it as a nod by information giant Google toward the value of high-quality deep news archives. Google News users have often been stymied by a news search that only goes back a month or so. This will allow users to go further and push traffic to Factiva and the others. Google says it doesn't get revenue when users purchase individual documents from the vendors but that it's doing this as a way to provide more complete information to its users.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Factiva Moderates Event on Securing Trust of Your Brand

Shameless promotion follows...

Factiva's CMO Alan Scott will moderate a Web event with leaders from Symantec, ChoicePoint and others about how security and privacy issues can impact a company's bottom line and the difficulties companies have measuring their true imact.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Chatting Web Strategy with Jeremiah

Several of us in the Product Department at Factiva had a conversation with Jeremiah Owyang, a thought leader at Hitachi Data Systems, this week about his use of one of our text-mining based products. He blogged about it and said some nice things about us.

He also spoke frankly to us about how our product wasn't serving his needs and what he thought we needed to do to make it better. That was the best part of the conversation. Praise is great, but it doesn't help you make better products. Well-thought-out criticism does.

Keep those cards and letters coming, Factiva users. We love 'em.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Latest Whistleblower Slaps at Lockheed Martin via YouTube

Michael De Kort, a former Lockheed Martin engineer becomes the latest YouTuber to make waves on the Web. He airs charges of corruption in a military contract he apparently worked on.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

56% of Active English Blogs are Spam -- Wired

An article on splogs in Wired's Sept '06 issue quotes Timm Finin, a researcher at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and two of his students as saying 56% of active English blogs are spam. "The Blogosphere is growing fast," but "the Splogosphere is now growing faster."

The article goes on to say that splogs contribute about 75% of all pings from English-language blogs. About 300,000 legit posts a day and about 900,000 bogus ones.

Factiva New Leader in News and Research Market

The latest from electronic information industry watcher Simba Information shows that Factiva is now No. 1 in the Current Awareness News & Research market . I've been working at Factiva and previously at joint-venture parent Dow Jones for 13 years now and when I started we were a distant third in the market. Lexis Nexis was the giant that we really couldn't hope to slay but it always was the goal our leaders set for us. Since Factiva was formed 7 years ago (with joint-venture partners Dow Jones and Reuters) we've been inching our way closer and now we can officially say we've passed Nexis.

We had a bit of a celebration here in Princeton's HQ. Certainly wasn't a barn burner. Not sure if it was subdued because we kinda knew about the announcement or if it's because Factiva people are basically down-to-earth types.

But woo-hoo. We're number 1.

Media Measurement Users Wanted for Market Research

We're looking for a few people who have media measurement responsibilities for participation in a paid market research study. Read on and if you're interested email me: glenn dot fannick at factiva dot com

Research Plan: A Factiva product-development or user-interface-design professional will conduct the one-on-one sessions, which may include an opportunity for the participants to try one or more Factiva products or prototypes, give comments on their experiences and answer a few questions. Each participant will be asked to attend one session, which will last from 1 to 2 hours and be conducted at the participant’s work place or via web conference.

User Description: A typical participant will be a professional who actively conducts some form of media measurement, using online tools to monitor his or her company, brands, issues or competitors in the mainstream media and/or on consumer-generated Web sites, such as blogs.

Compensation: At the completion of the session, the participant will receive a thank-you gift worth $100US / £60UK. The gift can we waived if the participant wishes.

Technorati's Active Blogs -- Perhaps 1.4 Million?

Another observation about Technorati's claim of 50 million blogs:

I recently created a new blog as an experiment. It only has two posts and as far as I can tell no one has linked to it. It's only be read by one or two people. Technorati's rank has it at somewhere around 1.4 million. So if a new blog that has virtually no exposure or usage is #1.4 million, one could conclude there are about this many active blogs in Technorati's logs. Further underscoring my point that most of its "50 million" are inactive (or splogs).

Monday, August 21, 2006

Cliche Index report

Here's a link to the full Cliche report.

Ongoing cliche research

The Factiva Cliche Index continues to roll, based on research from Factiva Insight. And now, son-of-cliche-index is born. Sunday marked the launch of The Vocabula Review's top twenty Dimwitticisms.

Basically, we hope this will be an awesome ongoing feature -- one of the highest priority -- in terms of the input needed over a period of time to move forward. But, first and foremost, that does remain to be seen because it might all be out the window at the end of the day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

'At The End Of The Day', love for Factiva's index of clichés

More coverage of Factiva's Cliché Index. This one from

Is there a cliche the press loves that we're missing that you think can make it into the Top 20? Let me know and we'll add it to the next survey.

2.27 gigabytes of AOL data provides treasure trove of data mining

A Lee Gomes article in the (sub.) demonstrates a fun use of data mining, sources from recently released AOL search files, to show what people are searching for on the Web.

"... excepting prepositions and conjunctions, the most commonly used word in the 17.15 million separate searches was 'free.' If something isn't free,
it better at least be 'new,' as that was the next-most common word. Excluding proper nouns, the next most popular words were 'lyrics,' 'county,' 'school,' 'city,' 'home,' 'state,' 'pictures,' 'music,' 'sale,' 'beach,' 'high,' 'map,' 'center' and 'sex.' "

Friday, August 11, 2006

50 Million Blogging Fans Can't be Wrong

OK. It seems like most people who've taken the time to post about David Sifry's latest "optimistic" look at the size of the Blogosphere have roundly rejected his "50 million" number.

Let's see whether the MSM has lapped it up? (What do you think?) ---

Actually, I'm impressed that so far not to many have picked up the item at all.

Of those that did, some just accepted it, without challenge. One said "according to a new study" (A "study"? More like a number Technorati's marketing department agreed it would release.)

Those that got it wrong:
-- Agence France Presse said the 50 million "were tracked on the Internet last month"
-- The Oakland Tribune: 50 million bloggers "now grace the world with their musings"
-- Editor and Publisher for some reason downgraded the number to 40 million. Typo, perhaps.

Others don't even say where the number comes from:
-- Ottawa Citizen: "...for those who consistently read any of the 50 million-odd blogs..."
-- Technology Daily PM: "... that with 50 million blogs and video production getting cheaper..."

Confusingly a press release from Informative in July 2006 mentions: "According to Technorati, an estimated 30 percent of all 50 million internet users are blog readers. There are currently 14 million blogs, and since bloggers update their blogs regularly, there are about 1.2 million new posts daily."

Product News Network says Windows Live Spaces alone has more than 50 million spaces.

CMP TechWeb (and a few others like National Post and is the most accurate, in my mind, saying Technorati is "tracking its 50 millionth blog," which is correctly akin to "99 billion served" at McDonalds. Not very useful, but accurate.

Fun with text mining

The Factiva Insight cliche tracker strikes again.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Sun's Blogging Policy's Sage Advice

Here's some great advice from Sun's blogging policy for those of us who blog about their company.

Think About Consequences
The worst thing that can happen is that a Sun sales pro is in a meeting with a hot prospect, and someone on the customer's side pulls out a print-out of your blog and says "This person at Sun says that product sucks." In general, "XXX sucks" is not only risky but unsubtle. Saying "Netbeans needs to have an easier learning curve for the first-time user" is fine; saying "Visual Development Environments for Java sucks" is just amateurish. Once again, it's
all about judgment: using your weblog to trash or embarrass the company, our
customers, or your co-workers, is not only dangerous but stupid.

NewPR Wiki a font of PR-blogging knowledge

I highly recommend that PR professionals interested in expanding their blog perspective check out the NewPR Wiki . It contains a significant number of resources such as examples of corporate blogging policies and a list of corporate executives' blogs.

Corporate Blogging Advancing Slowly - Survey

Trade journal Warren's Washington Internet Daily reported that corporate blogging is still in an "early adopter" phase, but those who have jumped in are having success. Respondents to a survey sponsored by Porter Novelli and Cymfony said more companies (92%) are monitoring blogs than have blogs (78%). The survey also stated the obvious that blogs are screened by corporate users to check developing trends, gain competitive insight and gauge company buzz. This doesn't seem to talk about individual users' business blogs but about "corporate" blogs.

"New!" -- We'll call it 'Text Mining'

I applaud the efforts of the folks at UC Irvine in the area of text mining and believe it's vital for reserach to continue in this area, but this press release does make it seem that they've uncovered something new. According to the release:

"The demonstration is significant because it is one of the earliest showing
that an extremely efficient, yet very complicated, technology called text mining
is on the brink of becoming a tool useful to more than highly trained computer
programmers and homeland security experts."

I would have to argue that folks in the business world have already established text mining as a useful tool. (Hopefully Homeland Security isn't just learning about it!)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Setting up Factiva NewsPage 2.0 -- the YouTube version

Whenever people talk about blogs written by Factiva employees, Daniela's name comes up. She comes up with great ways of getting her clients engaged through the interactivity of blogs. Here latest idea is posting YouTube videos of her demonstrating new product features. Nice.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mining Even Deeper into the Long Tail

Factiva Insight is offering content for our clients to mine from nearly 2 million of the most-read blogs (among lots of other content). We often have the discussion about the value of continuing to add more blogs from the end of the long tail. One argument goes that adding blogs that are read by EVEN FEWER people can't be good business. (It costs money to process more content and there has to be a point of diminishing returns.) But at least one person, Chris Anderson, who has authored a blog and a new book called The Long Tail, and an article by the same name in Wired, would disagree. He argues that there's gold in that tail. (Listen to him on NPR's ATC.)

Models like Netflix and Amazon show that there is money to be made when you continue to add lots of esoteric content because there are buyers for seemingly every last title. (Something like 98% of Netflix's huge list of titles have been rented at least once.)

Wal-Mart fighting in the blog trenches

Interesting stuff about how Wal-Mart is engaging in a blogosphere battle with its critics, in part, with its creation of its blog, subtitled "a project of working families for Wal-Mart". It seems to me to be a thinly veiled attempt to look like a non-corporate voice against the company's critics.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dell Tries to Be More Approachable

Dell follows McDonald's, Google and others online with a corporate blog. McDonald's did it to fight its hurting public image. Google did it to foster it's image of hipness. Dell is probably in the camp of the former. Either way, it will be interesting to watch develop.

The blog, one2one is subtitled, Direct Conversations with Dell. (Hey, that's something even they don't offer via their customer service phone number.)

And one might question the name choice. Be careful with the URL. The site's name is one2one, but the URL is Leave off the "dell" and you can have some sexy chat with lovely ladies just standing by waiting to talk to you.

Eastman Departs Biz360

Some changes at the top of Biz360 as Deborah Eastman, its CMO and EVP of sales and marketing, leaves.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Where is the line for people who blog about work?

A few of my co-workers were chatting this morning about how much a person like myself should say when blogging about product development issues. It is a tough question. In my role at Factiva, I'm privy to product development and business plans which would be very interesting to write about. The things we wrestle with when deciding new product features and where to take the business would make for interesting writing. However, revealing such things could be ba for business. We don't want to tip our hands to the competition. (Are you reading this, guys?)

But at the same time our customers (and even our Sales team!) appreciate when we talk about our innovation and what's coming next. So it's a fine line.

Factiva has taken a very bold step encouraging its employees to blog. Trusting that we will figure out where the line is and not cross it. Perhaps one of us will say too much, but I think the trust that our employer gives us also fosters loyalty which would discourage us from doing something to harm the company.

The other aspect is the challenge of balancing honesty with common sense. This is the harder one. How much can I or should I say about my feelings about bad decisions or corporate mistakes. I don't think there are lots of them at Factiva, but let's face it, all companies make 'em. I'm still not sure where that line is.

So, I'll keep talking about things that I think are interesting, but for now I'll also keep holding back those things that are really interesting. (Like what the director of Factiva Core Products is really like.)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Tips on Making a Blog Work for Your Company

Good piece on corporate blogging from Factiva: The conversation has shifted to allow anyone with a keyboard and an interesting point of view the possibility of equal voice.

The Wal-Mart Parking Lot Phenomena

In the past folk songs were written about finding America on the New Jersey Turnpike or the like. The new window into America seems to be the Wal-Mark parking lot.

I've come across a significant number of mentions on the Web with the term "parking lot" near "Wal-Mart." In fact, "parking lot" is consistently one of the most frequently discovered noun-phrases occurring near Wal-Mart. When I first found the "Wal-Mart Parking Lot Phenomena" I figured it was some anomaly in the data, but no, it's real.

A lot of things happen in this new public space. A few I found just in the past 7 days: a person witnessing a mom slap her child, FEMA information booths for Katrina victims, geospotting caches, a suicide victim found, volunteer sign-up tents, fireworks sales, lab puppy sales, a man who reportedly hid under a woman's car and then licked her toes as she loaded the trunk, people finding Jesus, and young people finding love. Ah, Wal-Mart, your clarion call beckons us all.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Blogs: To trust or not to trust?

Paul Reynolds of the BBC responds: that is not the question. Whether blogs are trustworthy is not the point, he concludes in his piece, because blogs are not serving the same purpose as the media. They are often trying to make the reader consider alternate points of view. Reynolds writes:

Sometimes they come up with new facts and give you a lead on stories. ... Quite often, however, they just offer you a perspective you might not have thought about. You can use them to test your own judgment.

Free-Speech Via Blogging Gaining Traction in China

I try not to blog about blogging too much, but this caught my eye.

China, a country whose government is dancing with the twin sisters of individual freedom and state control, seems be allowing a bit more freedom to its people via the Internet.

According to the BBC, Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency says there are currently 60 million Chinese bloggers with a predicion of 100 million by 2007., a major Chinese Internet search engine, says there are about 2.3 blog sites sites per blog author in China.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Naked Conversations -- Looks like a great book

Lots of bloggers post a list of books that they've read. Well, la de da. I think they're just showing off the fact that they have time to read. I'm not quite sure how to do that and still: work, have a life, spend time with my family, volunteer, blog, etc. Hate to say it, but reading, seems to pull up in that race with a lame leg.

However, if I had time to read, here's a book I'd be reading: Naked Conversations, How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers, by Shel Israel & Robert Scoble.

KD Paine Comments on New Media Measurement Proposal

An interesting discussion is starting over at KDPaine's PR Measurement Blog related to a new measurment standard the Canadian Public Relations Society is proffering. I've looked at it briefly and it seems logical and as good as any other "standard" out there. But this stuff is always harder than it looks because it's so hard to normalize disparate content in such a way that you can compare accurately.

For now, it seems like the discussion around media measurement will continue to be: 1) We have to do it; 2) We don't think there is a reliable way of doing it accurately; 3) See #1.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Factiva presents at Search Engine Meeting in Boston

Peter Cipollone, director of text mining and visualization at Factiva, spoke about text mining as a way to solve a business problem (in this case HR recruiting). His was one of the few presentations to get away from the science of search and text mining and talk more about the specifics as it applies to business.

It was a great presentation (Pete's my boss). Posted by Picasa

Endeca Still Pitching Guided Search to Solve 'Long Tail' Problem

Steve Papa, founder of Endeca, is still pitching guided navigation as a solution to the "long-tail" problem (at this years' Search Engine Meeting). You know, Google's 1-100 of about 72 million inherently buries good stuff down at hit number 71,567,567. "Google's great, don't get me wrong," Papa predictably said. "but..." there's something better, he implied.

He's not really convincing me how their guided navigation can be used as a general search tool. I'm convinced it works well within a (relatively) small database such as a Netflix-type library of DVDs.

I think I agree that it CAN be used in general search, however, it seems you need structured metadata across the documents to do it well.

Google's Enterprise Search Redux

Dave Girouard, general manager of Google's enterprise business, was the opening speaker at the 2006 Search Engine Meeting in Boston. He was pitching the new Google enterprise search appliance. (Girouard didn't impress me with what's new and different about the next version of the yellow Google blade. )

I would agree with him when he said: To date, enterprise search is hardly used. Because of this it is very costly, per use, to implement and run. His back-of-the-envelope calculations say each search at a typical large company can cost about $0.25; and enterprise search won't be successful until its orders of magnitude cheaper.

The goal, he said, is to move the search box from the corner of the home page of the corporate intranet to the the center and have it be the main entry point into the enterprise information.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Corporate Assassins might have you in their crosshairs

I really like the term "corporate assassins" to describe the people who are hell-bent on attacking the reputation of any given company via blog postings and the like. I also feel that many of us have considered starting such an attack after waiting on hold few minutes too long or getting attitude from some copy-machine employee at Staples. (my personal gripe, not withstanding)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Reputation managment storyline starts getting picked up by MSM

The Beeb has picked up the long percolating story that blogs can impact business. We in the information industry have all been watching this story grow on the Blogosphere and in the industry trades. It's now becoming a story in the mainstream media.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Dennis Cahill on Agile Information Intelligence

Factiva's vice president of product, Dennis Cahill, talks to Dan Keldsen on Factiva's Agile Information Intelligence Solutions. It's all very exciting stuff and Dennis is really passionate about it.

New York Times - taps into text mining

I love the crisp new look of And I just want to point out the text mining connection. The Most Popular section features users' most search words and phrases. NYT does a good job of grouping together similar searches under keywords, too. Select "France" for example, and you can then select from france, france labor, france protest, france riots etc.
Very nice.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Google Finance - Cool but lacking

Many of us at Factiva have been checking out the latest offering from that search company that rhymes with Zoogle. And I have to say, Google Finance is darn slick. Those Flash-base stock charts are very nice. Right now, however it just doesn't have enough content to make it a serious contender in the corporate-information-search market.

Certainly this was launched (in beta) as a catch-up with the likes of Yahoo! Finance and they're no doubt checking it out now. But I'm sure our friends at Hoover's are also checking it out closely because it probably will be trying to eat away at their base -- the small shops that need cheap, accurate corporate info. Hoovers and other companies that charge their clients for business information (like Factiva, certainly) are going to have to continue to differentiate on content and on services such as integration and consulting. I think corporations will continue to want to get the info the need into their end-users' work flow.

"Free" is good enough for some, but not likely good enough for most of the enterprise clients who need high-quality business information and often need it integrated into their workflow.

Sadrhino Joins Factiva on line

I've yet to figure out who the rhino is and why he's sad, but I do know that Sadrhino- the Web log with horns is the latest Factiva employee blog and one with a lot of promise. Jim Muntone is a recent hire of ours and, methinks, a great addition to our our user-design team. He brings a fresh perspective and great experience (not saying we don't already have such things, mind you) to our user interface team. I'm looking forward to reading what he covers on Sadrhino.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Executive Decision: The Importance of Corporate Reputation

Factiva's CMO, Alan Scott, gets some more ink around the hot issue of corporate reputation and blogs:

"There are millions of blogs and message boards worldwide and any one of them can affect your organization or brand. To fully manage corporate reputation, companies need to pay close attention to what is being said not only in the media, but in blogs, message boards and online media, too."

(Note Executive Decision editors: "Boston-based"Factiva? And I think the WSJ recently stated there are 35 million blogs, not 3.5 milion. Do they not cover fact-checking in J-school any more?)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Speed Dating for Marketers

I just left the World Trade Group's Global Marketing Executive Summit in Myrtle Beach (BTW, posting this on free wireless access in MB airport!). This event is an example of a fairly new kind of trade show. It gives vendors, like Factiva, the chance to have several one-on-one meetings with (ideally) well-qualified prospects. The vendors sign up to meet specific prospects and the attendees sign up to talk to specific vendors. Not quite a frenetic as speed dating, but the same idea.

I think this is a great alternative to the typical trade-show-floor experience where we all stand around handing our stress balls trying to give demos of our products to people who probably aren't interested and who aren't high enough up the food chain to be able to pay for them.

While I think this event was generally a good one for Factiva, I was a bit disappointed with qualifications of some of the attendees. Many were not "executives", some weren't right for what we have to offer and at least a few were just there (shocking) for the free trip.

Certainly the success of a show like this is directly tied to those who attend and vendors have to put their faith in the company organizing the show that they will deliver the prospects (partially with the allure of a free golf vacation at a nice resort on the beach). Certainly there are no guarantees and we, like most, are probably very happy to come away with even just a handful of good leads.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

From the Hart: Blogs are Business

Some interesting results from a Factiva text mining project tracking the discussion of blogs as a business concept in 2005. Maybe not to shocking that "blog" outpaced "ERP" and other narrowly focused business concepts, but to blow away the mentions of "spam" is pretty amazing.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Charles Fombrun on Reputation Management

It's always interesting to hear a discussion with Charles Fombrun, the president of the Reputation Institute. Here's a good audio file of a recent chat about how a good corporate reputation can equate to corporate success.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Managing "Content Chaos" via Text Mining Presentation

Thanks to all the Factiva users who dialed into the Content Chaos presentation today and to those who asked questions. If you have other questions, please feel free to email me or post them here.

I'd love to hear opinions -- dissenting or supportive.

Also, we're working on getting a recording of it out to those who need help falling asleep at night.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Blogging Allows Marketers to Start Conversations

Alexandra DeFelice reports in CRM Magazine (Jan 1) that marketers at large companies are starting to take more notice of the Blogosphere and how it may change their jobs. And she talks about how marketing could start moving toward having a "meaningful" dialog with consumers. But the industry is not there yet. She reports that Ray Valdes, a Gartner analyst said:

Less than 5 percent of the Fortune 1,000 is using blogs strategically, but that percentage will triple in the next two years... however, even companies that are using blogs are not necessarily using them efficiently at this point... A lack of knowledge and a fear of the risks and repercussions are stopping companies from developing a blogging policy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Most U.S. PR Professionals See Blogs as Important

I missed this study on blogs from Peppercom at the end of last year, but it's worth noting. They surveyed 900 U.S. PR professionals and found :

  • 80% feel a corporate blog can help improve the dialogue between a company and its stakeholders
  • 79% feel a corporate blog can help position a company and/or its "chief blogger" as a thought leader
  • 62% state the blogosphere is an appropriate venue for corporations to communicate with stakeholders

Venture Chronicles: Who is reading blogs

Here's a very good post on why CMOs should care about blogs. I especially like:

the people these decision makers [CMOs] rely on for influence are reading and reacting to blogs, therefore business decision makers are being influenced by blog (sic) if only by a degree of separation.

Nielsen Strengthens Web Buzz Monitoring Position with BuzzMetrics, Intelliseek Deal

It's not surprising to see a media monitoring giant like VNU (owner of well-known Nielsen) entering the rapidly growing Web-measurement market.

This deal probably means that Nielsen BuzzMetrics moves ahead of Biz360 and Umbria on the revenue leader board.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Mining Bird Flu Data

Here's an interesting example of text mining news coverage.

A recent analysis by the Factiva Reputation Lab (TM) shows that while bird flu may be a very serious issue of concern to the entire world, it's not getting the press coverage of other issues. For the past two years it has (not surprisingly) been dwarfed by coverage of natural disasters, terrorism and the war in Iraq. But it's not even reaching the coverage of obesity and AIDS.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

New Blog Being Written From the Hart

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the entry into the Blogosphere of one of our industry's leaders -- Clare Hart, Factiva's CEO. I'd be remiss because she is a powerful figure in the industry who's voice SHOULD be in the Blogosphere (And I'd be in trouble if I didn't mention it because she's my boss! Kidding, Clare.)

In From the Hart, Clare will likely be giving her perspective on the information industry -- where she sees trends going and how Factiva will strive to be leading the way in many of those cases.

We at Factiva hear Clare's take on things routinely, certainly, but I think it will be great to see her comments in the public space to see how other's perceive her views.

Monday, January 09, 2006

PR Innovation of the Year Finalists Announced

I'm pleased to say that the product my colleagues and I have been working on for a while, Factiva Insight: Reputation Intelligence, has been named a finalist by PR Week in its Innovation of the Year category.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Here's a CIO Who Gets It

Right now it's pretty rare to see executives blogging. I suspect it's because many haven't realized the value of the tool and many others haven't carved out the time in their schedules to do so. Will Weider, the CIO of Affinity Health System and the author of The Candid CIO is one who gets it.

My guess is that it's just a matter of time before he's joined by more professionals who will realize they can use this medium as a way to increase visability for themselves and their companies. Cheap publicity, if you ask me.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Today's News Bounces through MSM-New-Media Echo Chamber

An op-ed in the 2 Jan 06 U.S. edition of PR Week points out that new media must factor into PR managers' strategies.

Paul Bergevin, president of Citigate Cunningham, states:

It seems pretty clear that today's important stories bounce up and down in an echo chamber of cross-reference between traditional and nontraditional media. What happens in the grass- roots or the word-of-mouth blogosphere informs the major media - and vice versa. The most important stories are the ones that are, in fact, a product of the interplay between traditional and nontraditional media.

Harnessing and managing the storytelling between traditional and nontraditional media outlets is the real job of today's PR pro. This is an incredible opportunity for PR to have an even greater influence in the future than it has enjoyed in the past.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

C|Net: Why companies monitor blogs

Another article (this one from CNet) on what's becoming more and more obvious -- that companies ignore blogs at their own peril.