Public relations: Media expansion tests PR tracking - Comprehensive PR monitoring is being complicated by a growth in media channels. By SUE LEVY

It’s no easy task keeping on top of media coverage. A brand might be talked about in an internet chat room, on one of the 242 UK commercial radio stations, or on a niche satellite TV channel. For PR agencies, it can be difficult to deliver against the client promise of comprehensive evaluation across all media channels.

It’s no easy task keeping on top of media coverage. A brand might

be talked about in an internet chat room, on one of the 242 UK

commercial radio stations, or on a niche satellite TV channel. For PR

agencies, it can be difficult to deliver against the client promise of

comprehensive evaluation across all media channels.

Take the launch of a Virgin Megastore in Glasgow in December. The event

was managed by youth consultancy Cake, which persuaded Spice Girl Mel C,

and Richard Branson to abseil down the front of the store. Pop group

Travis were also recruited and played a free gig in the street - all of

which attracted extensive coverage.

As well as securing space in music titles such as NME and Melody Maker,

the event earned a slot on the Big Breakfast, Channel Five News and BBC

Radio 1. Newspaper coverage ranged from the Financial Times to the News

of the World and all the Scottish daily press. According to Cake, the

campaign cost of pounds 94,000 translated into coverage worth more than

pounds 1.2m over a three-month period. Monitoring was through the

Broadcast Monitoring Company - which works across the Virgin group - and

Cake itself.

’It’s a real challenge keeping on top of coverage for an event like

this, especially when regional media is so important,’ says Cake account

director, Clare Craven. ’The client wants feedback the same day, but in

my experience, up to 60% can be missed by media monitoring


For most clients, cost is a major consideration in the evaluation

techniques they use, and many buy in evaluation software packages. One

of the more popular is Cutting Edge, which offers three editions of its

media evaluation system: ’Full Edition’, ’Lite’ and ’Network


Comic Relief used Cutting Edge in the run-up to Red Nose Day 1999 to

analyse the impact of media coverage on the organisation. By judging the

tone of coverage, Comic Relief was able to track which initiatives were

failing to attract attention and which issues were attracting negative

coverage. It evaluated coverage on six key areas: merchandise, TV

initiatives, education, grants (Africa and UK), special projects, public

fundraising and corporate fundraising.

Broadcast specialists

Print is one of a growing number of media channels which needs to be

monitored. With the globalisation of TV news and the growth of digital

channels, monitoring broadcast coverage has become more expensive, and

most companies find themselves going to a broadcast specialist.

Last year, Medialink International launched TeleTrax, an electronic

tagging system to monitor broadcast use of its footage. The company puts

an indelible code on every video it produces and uses a network of

’listening posts’ to monitor the signals of 84 broadcasters across

Europe - set to increase to 100 by March. As soon as any of the

broadcasters show Medialink footage, the company is alerted.

But at the moment, TeleTrax can only confirm that footage has aired, and

is unable to process the tone of the content. Media systems specialist,

Peaktime, goes one step further. Its system, Viewtime, records 18 hours

of primetime viewing a day and displays five channels


This makes it possible to analyse BARB audience data on a

minute-by-minute basis. By examining viewing patterns, users can see

what makes viewers switch on to, or out of, a programme.

But even broadcast coverage is easier to monitor than the internet. At

internet monitoring company Infonic, all relevant content is viewed by

one of the company’s researchers.

’Clients don’t want a data dump; they want internet content monitored

and translated,’ says Roy Lipski, Infonic’s managing director. ’We’re

not a clippings service. We see ourselves as advisers, and so do our


Cost, however, is a major factor for internet evaluation and clients

have to be prepared to set aside a realistic sum if they want detailed


Romeike & Curtice set up its internet monitoring service, Net.cut, in


Net.cut was designed to be used as an early warning service by corporate

communications departments to provide fast notification of unfavourable

comments on the net.

It can monitor internet publications, UK newsgroups and the worldwide

web. The service works on a keyword basis, searching the internet at

night and archiving company mentions. The following morning, the

cuttings are read for key messages before the client is alerted.

Angela Webb, sales and marketing manager at Romeike & Curtice, admits

Net.cut is not yet the perfect evaluation system, but believes the

evaluation industry will have to work together to create a better


Rapid development

’The net is an intensely difficult form of media. Net.cut has already

been upgraded twice because things develop so quickly,’ she says. ’Most

evaluation companies in the UK are looking at production aspects to

discover the next stage.’

The cost of using Net.cut depends entirely on the complexity of the


To monitor internet publications and newsgroups costs about pounds 49.50

a month, with each alert costing an extra pounds 1.

According to leading evaluation companies, market research has an

increasing strategic role to play to determine how different media

interact with each other.

CMS, the company best known for its Precis media analysis product, was

bought by top ten international advertising tracking and research

company, Millward Brown, last December.

Fergus Hampton, chief executive of Millward Brown Precis, said at the

the time that the deal would allow clients to get feedback on how all

the components of their communications mix interact, offering an

integrated set of measurement tools for above- and below-the-line

activity - a tool, finally, capable of a comprehensive evaluation


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Oasis #springasmile digital campaign gets people doing good deeds
Coca-Cola: 'Don't approach bloggers with a fait accompli'
Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson: 'It is so important not to stereotype mothers'
McDonald's gives Ronald a new look ahead of global 'Fun times' social media push
In pictures: BrewDog opens first craft beer shop BottleDog for 'beer aficionados'
Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers