A recent 'seminar' on blogging by media intelligence company Cision left me somewhat baffled. The talks, by Richard Gatarski and Alexander Mason, were inspiring enough, but Cision used the seminar to launch its plans to offer new, and no doubt expensive, blogmonitoring for its clients.
This didn't make much sense to me: why would I spend a lot of money on something I can do in a few minutes for free with the help of technorati, google, newsreaders etc? As a journalist for instance, I subscribe to technorati searches for all the companies I follow via my newsreader. It takes me very little time keep up with, and could, for one, tell me that there was a lot of Dutch blog buzz around Schibsted's recent launch of its E24 concept in Holland.
So Cision's move puzzled and annoyed me as it seemed to be a blatant attempt to make money on people's ignorance. I was heartened therefore, when I discovered this vibrant conversation around another new blogmonitoring service, this time from PR Newswire and Umbria (via Adriana):
Media monitoring services still play an important role in supporting PR, but this old school model comes from a day before the Internet where national media monitoring via a third party was essential, simply because there wasn’t an alternative, and in many cases, for print, radio and TV there isn’t an all inclusive alternative today. And yet blogs and consumer generated media are the children of a new age, an online age where information is accessible online anywhere in the world at the touch of a button.
Many PR Professionals contact and read TechCrunch so perhaps we can get some answers: is it that some PR Professionals cant type “Insert Clients Name here” into Technorati or Google Blog Search?
How difficult is it to set up feeds from services such as Google News, Yahoo News and Topix which deliver results based on corporate brand names? Isn’t the whole point of engaging with and participating in a Web 2.0 world one to one communications, removing the middle tier of information dissemination?
"Occasionally I come across proposals from such agencies to my clients," writes Adriana: "I always show them how to do it themselves. That's the whole point - disintermediation can work for companies too, not just individuals. Go figure. "
Many of comments on this TechCrunch post are superb (go check it out in full), and gave me many useful perspectives on why we see these new blogmonitoring services popping up. A valid point is of course that blog monitoring can be time-consuming for big companies with products that generate a lot of buzz, but here's a few of my favourite comments which supported my gut reaction to the news:
Comment from Unjournalism
I do the Technorati/Google/Topix/Etc.-to-RSS free monitoring and then — wait for it…THINK about what the results mean. Then spend the savings on gadgets and whiskey
Comment from Kevin Bourke
There are a few reasons why I’m not surprised at the launch of a service like this:
- PR agencies (and even internal PR departments) are often put in the “justify your existence” position; develop a weekly, monthly, quarterly report that demonstrates your value and reminds the executive team why we spend so much on PR. PR people, unfortunately, tend to justify their existence by generating gobs of reports — the more ‘hits’ the better you must be. And in today’s Web 2.0 world, the pressure for more comprehensive results is that much greater. In my view, it’s unfortunate, because this defensive mentality actually devalues PR, and makes PR people forget where their true value lies.
For one, let's see if Cision's wonderful blog search engine picks up on this post....