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News Analysis: What is your Strategic Impact?

(Jared Troutman, Media Analysis Director for Universal Information Services, provides strategic insights and competitive intelligence reports for our national clients. As a developer of our Strategic Impact Reports, Jared brings a level of innovation and insight that is unparalleled in the industry.)

“Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind” – Immanuel Kant

Universal Information Services Competitive Intelligence

Immanuel Kant’s thoughts in epistemology are quite applicable to our philosophy of #samerules #newtools. Kant reasoned that true knowledge is attained through reason plus sense perception. Similarly, true insights from media analysis are attained through the comprehensive harvesting of media (the sensory input) plus real human analysis (reason). In other words, generating inferences without looking at all types of media (print, broadcast, online, social) is a fool’s errand. Also, one should not expect reliable media measurement results without a human analysis methodology. This concept can serve as a road map when interviewing vendors that offer media analysis services.

First, where is my news coming from?
What we know is that there are numerous companies out there that will provide competitive intelligence and PR measurement, but only from sources they can freely find online. The downfall of this concept is that in 2010 only 28% of published or broadcast news was available online. Now, that number is less. Many of the major publishers and content providers have taken their news behind paywalls. What this means for the effectiveness of your media analysis is that with such a small sample size making up your data set, you simply don’t have enough content to draw accurate conclusions – your data is “empty.” Too little data from too few sources will not provide true insight.

The question to ask your analysis vendor is, “Does your news come only from the web or a web aggregator? Or, do you have what is truly published in print, the news that is actually broadcast, and all the online content as well?” Be careful, some vendors stretch the truth by blurring the line between a newspaper or television station website and what is truly published or broadcast. The difference is huge.

Second, how do your analysts view my data?
This is where the rubber hits the road. If an analysis vendor does not use human coding at the point of reasoning, your analysis results will average no better than 60% accuracy rate. Automated analysis, in which drivers and sentiment are coded by a computer, are notoriously inaccurate. Therefore, you should consider only analysis services that have human analysts evaluate each of your stories. Furthermore, that analysis vendor should have a program in place that trains each analyst to view your results consistently. This “cross-coder” training ensures that no matter which analyst evaluates your news results, the same conclusions will result each time. Again, we’re back to having a truly accurate methodology, and it all starts with the quality of people.

If true insight is your goal in PR analytics, both comprehensive media harvesting and detailed human analysis are necessary, otherwise your data is empty and your analysis is blind. Here I’ve provided a good way to make sure your strategy for getting everything you can out of your media footprint is neither empty nor blind but complete and vivid. If you perform your own media analysis to gauge the effectiveness of your PR effort, use the above information to check your methodology. If you outsource your analysis effort, use the above to evaluate your vendor. Or, better yet, drop me a line. Through Universal Information Services I’d be happy to review your methods for tracking and evaluating your impact in the media, or help you discover true competitive insights that can move your organization forward.

Please leave a comment and let me know your pain points in this field.

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