How do you politely tell someone that they're working in a dying industry?
Yesterday a rep from Meltwater, a media monitoring company, nabbed me on the telephone for 30 seconds and convinced me to let him send me a media tracking report so I could see how valuable Meltwater's services would be to us at iotum. So I said yes. What he sent me was a report that contained five references to iotum in the media from last week, of which four were Nick Hoover's piece telling people that I would be speaking at Enterprise 2.0. Now, I happen to know that there were more, because I have a Google search set to send me a piece of email anytime there's a mention of iotum anywhere. I didn't think too much of what he sent.
So I wrote him back as follows:
XXX, I’m a web 2.0 savvy guy. Whenever anyone mentions iotum, or any of a list of our competitors, or my name, or links to any of our sites, or writes about any of a series of topics that I care about on the web, Google sends me a report – either instantly, or daily, depending on what I am interested in. In addition, I use Illumio to sift through a further 900 feeds for topics that might be of interest to me. AND, my PR agency compiles a weekly media report which they mail to me.
It’s all pretty automated, and it all works pretty well.
What will this do that I can’t handle using one of the techniques I already have? Because (and I’m trying to be gentle) what you’ve sent me doesn’t seem valuable. Four publications ran Nick Hoovers story where we were mentioned… I knew that last week when it happened. Where are the mentions of us this week?
I’m not trying to piss in your pool. Just want to know whether your service is for a company like ours, or for a more traditional company that needs help with the basics of media monitoring.
So he sent me another report. This one tabulated mentions of iotum by publication for the past 14 weeks. It was basically a spreadsheet, counting articles and mentions, by publication. He described it as a "small sample" of their capabilities, but it was pretty underwhelming. I wrote him back once more, as follows:
Vis a vis your spreadsheet below – I get the same thing from my agency each week, and they relate the coverage back to each individual news event that we create together so we can measure ROI. Frankly, it’s better data than what you’re providing and the analysis they provide makes it more valuable.
Tell you what … since I’ve been doing PR and ROI measurement on PR for nearly two decades now, why don’t you blow my socks off rather than providing “small samples”. If you can wow me… show me something I don’t already know about my company… then it might be valuable to talk again. From what I’ve seen so far, I don’t believe I need what you’re selling.
I think you’re going to be challenged, though, by the fact that we’re a small company generating small amounts of news. Our needs are very adequately met with the tools we have now. We just don’t have the same needs as a fortune 1000 company.
The real issue is simply this. Monkeys can do the monitoring today. Just set up a few Google searches, and specify when you want the results sent. Anybody solely in the monitoring business is going to be displaced by Web 2.0 technologies like search.
No, the value that these services might be able to provide is in the analytics. How many mentions are positive vs negative? What is the reach of each article, BPA audited and otherwise? How many conversations did it start? What's the link count in from elsewhere?
If you're in the monitoring business, think about that rather than trying to sell me what Google gives me for free.