How technology turbocharges news monitoring

How technology turbocharges news monitoring

“Just where do you get your news?” is a common question for those who work in the media.

Fellow practitioners tend to get their snippets from friends, family or colleagues, various social sites (although these can be unhelpful “echo chambers” of opinion), and online sources.

If you work in the digital media environment we find ourselves in today, it’s unlikely that your first exposure to news in the morning will be from a physical news ‘PAPER’. It’s just not fast enough, doesn’t provide a variety of opinion and certainly not a full-proof method of getting a feeling of the day ahead. In public affairs (and PR), newsgathering is a critical part of client delivery. If something happens, consultants need to act quickly.

The trick is how to get your news. It has to be:

  • Instantaneous (from publish to inbox)
  • Reliable
  • Monitor a variety of sources

Some agencies may chose to employ dozens of interns or account executives to manually monitor sources. We rely on technological solutions, which means staff efforts can focus on feeding the bottom-line. Everyone is responsible for business growth, and certain aspects of client delivery can be turbocharged through technology, even news monitoring.

This is how we get our news.

RSS Readers
Okay, it’s an old technology that hails from 1999, but it’s stable and proven. The RSS Reader landscape was rocked in 2013 when Google closed its popular Google Reader service, despite 154,000+ messages of support. Thankfully RSS Reader technology is far from unique, and many competitors revealed themselves. At Keene we tend to rely on Feedly to organise our news sources list.

Feedly screenshot

My personal Feedly for work and pleasure. A mixture of tech, politics, travel, philosophy and geek.

RSS Readers are perfect for news monitoring because they allow you to see the latest updates from hundreds of news sources in just a few minutes. As RSS feeds are widespread (on every newspaper or blog I’ve visited), it allows a wide variety of publications to be tracked.

In the morning I can access Feedly on my iPhone, then access it via Google Chrome on my Mac once in the office. It allows me to read widely, efficiently, and broaden my knowledge – critical for business meetings. The whole team at Keene use feed readers and it’s one way to build our insight.

Social Media Sources
By “social media sources”, I really mean relying on social media contacts to recommend the news I read. Social media is often criticised for its recommendations, as social contacts tend to share similar stories, creating an “echo chamber” of media monitoring. This can mean missing rising stories or niche subject areas that may serve our clients best. Despite its shortcomings, any trending topic on social sites are worth taking note of, especially if you have a consumer client looking for a juicy news hook.

The most popular way to source social media news is usually by just logging into your social sites Reddit, Twitter, Delicious, Google+. You can choose more advanced and expensive options (as an organisation) by signing up for Brandwatch (which even delivers email alerts), Radian6 or Pulsar (and many in-between). If you want to get really technical then check out the open source tools developed by the Social Media Research Foundation.

Reddit, also known as the front page of the internet.

Reddit, also known as the front page of the internet.

Many of our clients use social media as a source of research. Gauging public opinion, identifying online communities and influential conversations happening beyond newspapers. It’s another news source that can be accessed by any agency member, across any digital device. To be read alongside other sources (such as RSS Readers).

Make no mistake, newspapers are still the media. It is where clients want to see their coverage and even a little read article can have fortuitous or cataclysmic consequences under the title of a mainstream paper title. As a PR and public affairs agency, newspapers are still the bread and butter of our business.

We keep tabs of newspapers by registering to them via RSS Readers, through subscription to beat pay walls, and by receiving paper copies to the office. Some in the agency believe nothing beats a paper copy, as the layout allows easy reading (especially the Financial Times). I personally prefer accessing digital versions, especially The Times or Guardian apps.

The Guardian leads the way for data journalism.

The Guardian leads the way for data journalism.

There is still a misconception in the media industry that newspapers have no hope. Being challenged by falling circulation rates, the speed of social media (including feisty bloggers) and through their own ‘dated’ internal structures. I personally believe whilst some publications will eventually face closure, others will manage to adapt their business to successfully make use of digital. For instance, the rise of data journalism plays to the strength of mainstream media.



About the Author