I fell into this industry in December of 2001 after 9/11 stalled the film production work in NYC. I was lucky enough to find a job with Direct Media Services. We were “the guy behind the guy”…as they say. You may not have heard of that company, but we specialized in Broadcast Public Relations… SMTs, VNRs (remember those?), ANRs, PSAs, and a plethora of other three letter acronyms that are escaping me at the moment. If you worked with a company or agency that had any of those components, chances are we worked on one or more of them – directly or indirectly. We also did a lot of media tracking – A LOT. Whether it was working with VMS (remember them?) or being one of the first companies to work with Nielsen’s SIGMA technology, if it was possible to find it in the media we reported on it. This often required taking the data (either from VMS or Nielsen) and making sense of it for our clients. It also required filling in the holes. The data didn’t always report audience numbers, or other information like TV/Radio markets or station info correctly. So we utilized our relationships, internal databases, and the very few resources available out there to pull it all together for our clients.
Today’s world is filled with resources. The key word services of today no longer require ordering a VHS tape of the interview that just aired – and hoping to receive it the next day via fed-ex. If you were lucky enough to be in NY, LA, or Chicago you might have been able to get it via messenger SAME DAY – WOW! Today, you can log in to your media monitoring platform, find the clip within minutes of the airing and email the link to your client. You can even download a digital file for safe keeping. And let’s not forget Social Media. I’m guessing there are at least 50+ options for tracking Social Media. Social is an entirely different animal and a separate blog post, so for the purpose of keeping this short, I’m referring to TV, Radio, and Online platforms.
Well over a decade later, if we really look at it, has the emergence of the DIY Media Platform become a quick and easy step? Has it become more economical? I remember testing out VMSs first DIY platform somewhere around 2003 only to pull less coverage then my account rep would send me. The bill also got bigger. So now I’m putting more time in, getting less info, and paying more. 13 years later that hasn’t changed all that much. For one thing, not everyone is an expert in Boolean Syntax, nor does everyone have the time to sift through media results and remove the stories that aren’t relevant – for every project they are doing. TIME. Time is money and we still have to invest in it to not only learn how to run an effective search, but actually learn the platform. Ok… I hear ya… It’s not that difficult. There have been a lot of advancements in DIY Media Platforms - anyone can do it. Point taken, but you still have to pay that “anyone”. You still have to invest the time. For a busy company that could mean hiring someone for the job, or at the very least giving someone that responsibility which means time away from other things. So why not just let each account executive handle their own project? They can each log in when needed, pull what they need, send it off, done. MONEY. Logins cost money and multiple logins can get really out of control. So the question is: Are you better off than you were before? Many of the leading media platforms have account reps that can help you with this stuff…. When they get to it… So now we’re delaying getting the coverage to our clients to allow a professional to help you with a platform that you’ve paid for – in order to do it yourself. Sounds an awful lot like 2003 to me, only this time you have an extra expense – paying for the platform – that the rep is now using to pull info for you! Clever, right?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing that we can pull our own clips, email them out, maybe send some audience and ad value or publicity value along the way. We look like rock stars. But is it always that easy? This finally gets me to what’s missing. The human element. And I’m not just talking about the rep that you’re using to work on the platform you’re paying for. I’m talking about all of the other things like audiences: does the audience on the platform jive with the audience you would give a client? Does the platform even give out audiences? Accurate broadcast information: do you know what all the call letters mean? Is that a local cable station or a regional station? Maybe you send all of your reporting in a certain report template. So now you’re exporting the data (assuming you can), and you’re piecing it together to send in a larger report. TIME. MONEY.
Whether you agree with me or not, I’ve actually made a career out of helping companies “bring it all together” by filling in the holes. 5 years ago I joined August 2 Productions and we got to work on solutions for anyone that’s faced with TIME & MONEY issues. Particularly smaller boutique PR firms or freelancers going from job to job. Even the bigger guys need some help sometimes. We’re there for them too. Our ITR solution has become a huge success. Because we fill the holes. We’ve balanced the TIME and we’ve balanced the MONEY. What are your issues? Let us help…
Check us out here: ITR (Intelligent Tracking & Reporting)
*David Steiner is the Executive Director of Media Tracking and Analysis for August II Productions. You can reach him at [email protected].