By Dorothy York, President and CEO of North American Precis Syndicate (NAPS)
Finding placements online has made media monitoring vastly more time-efficient, yet thousands of publications can only be monitored in print. Those are the ones that have resisted putting their content online, for a variety of reasons.
According to our recent survey, the most common reasons for publishers to continue publishing only in print are the following:
1- Cost: Publishing online is not cost-effective for them. They need to devote a lot more time to posting to a site.
2- Technology: Requirements for publishing online include a skill set, software and equipment, that may not be easily acquired. This is changing, as many sites are now so user friendly that no particular skill is needed and staff can be easily trained, but some are reluctant to change.
3- Security: Many are concerned about hackers, viruses, spammers, or malware.
4- Competition: There is a concern about content being duplicated by rivals or social media sites, even if it is behind a paywall. Publishers fear loss of revenue if their content is to easily available online, without a subscription.
5- Relevance: Some publishers don’t see the relevance to their businesses, which have been operating the same way for decades. Their audiences have been getting their publications in print, and many of their subscribers don’t want to pay extra for the online version, preferring to read in print.
The monitoring job would be so much easier if more publishers would be persuaded to publish online, but the process of converting has been slow, with thousands still publishing in print only. Some have a site but only for contact information or just a teaser that gets people to buy the publication in print.
While it’s tempting to skip covering and monitoring those publications that are only in print, savvy marketers recognize the value of those publications, many of which have a huge reach. Placements in print publications are highly visible, especially local weekly community news outlets with very few pages, that can be scanned in a short period of time. Readers often keep those publications in the home for a week, providing ample opportunity for members of the household and visitors to read from cover to cover.
Some print publications are saturation mailers that go to the mailboxes of everyone in the community. Audiences tend to be wealthier and more educated, as those publications, all supported by local advertising, exist in places that advertisers are most likely to get the biggest bang for their ad bucks.
The challenge we face is how to monitor those publications, many of which don’t offer subscriptions, and can’t be found online. Developing relationships with the editors is of primary importance. They will often send envelopes filled with placements of our stories, because they are so grateful for the good quality content that we send to them, which helps to attract advertisers with relevant ads.
We need to subscribe, if possible, for regular users of our content, and read those publications ourselves to find placements. We look for a special symbol that is in all our articles, which helps us to distinguish our content from the rest. Some editors like to remove our symbol, which makes the job of finding those placements more challenging for our team, which has been trained to recognize our content by the images, the headlines and the content, which they see frequently in other publications.
Unless we have a portal into the publications, which is rare, once we find the content, we need to take a picture of it so that we can provide that to our clients. This is a permission based process, meaning that many monitoring services are not allowed to do this, due to copyright restrictions. We have special permission, as providers of the content, for sharing with our clients.
We are finding thousands of placements each month for hundreds of our clients, and those need to be sorted, entered into our reporting system, and sent to our contacts at agencies, corporations, associations and the government.
The reporting process has been streamlined, thanks to modern technology, and we have been able to offer customizable reports, based on the specific preferences of our clients, who are eager to please management. The one size fits all approach is not always what is called for. Some want a little extra effort, to get the data in just the right format for their review.
As we move toward a more technologically advanced society, we will continue to evolve, offering more opportunities and options for our most demanding clients, to be sure to consistently maximize the satisfaction for each and every job we work on. Our reports can include all the latest eye candy, including a variety of charts and graphic representation of the date.