Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Mashup for News and PR

As part of a series of posts I intent to identify why I think the digital tsunami is important and look at how practice can change and adapt.

Here, I want to describe a new approach to news.

We are now getting used to getting our news online. We discover that a PR programme for one country is frequenctly covered in newspapers in another country and that publics view coverage that is generated anywhere in the world. There is no longer 'national news'.

In addition, we find that there is too much news and reading it and managing it both too time consuming and cannot be managed fast enough to be more than an overview.

Furthermore when we issue statements or respond to on-line content the news agenda is so fast moving that providing background briefing, added value content and context for our work takes a long time and is out of date in a very short time.

Internet mediated news is global, fast and dynamic.

What we need is a capability that can monitor everything that is being published in mediated and un-mediated channels for communication. We need our news extracted as themes and then presented with the most pertinent comments first. We also need to get to the sources quickly when the need is critical.

There is an expression for this approach. Its called 'mashup'. It is available and it (well almost, works).

With such capability, the practitioner can see the context of news, keep their organisation alert to the most important news and engage with their external constituency with contributions that will influence the culture of the topic in hand.

PR people can be up to date, informed, comprehensive and at the centre of debate or consumer interest.

Such is the speed and progress of the digital tsunami, a solution is being tested now. It is in pre-beta development but readers of this blog can see it at work here (when the experimental server is working – click on a blob!).

What it does is identify the most significant sentences in news texts and orders them in such a way that the most significant sentence is at the top of the resultant news brief. It cuts the time it takes to read the news. And it offers news because of its semantic significance. Some people are using it to create blog posts.

The benefits seem simple enough but what of the threats. One can, at best speculate but some thoughts spring readily to mind.

In the first place, this could replace newspapers. Journalist's comments on web sites (or blogs) can be mashed up to create 'newspapers' that can be distributed using a wide range of channels for communication. The competitive impact will be effective. Competitors using such capability can engage in relationship building well ahead of those using traditional 'Marketing' tools and can match the mood of the moment with relevant content across many channels. A practitioner using such a capability will be noted for their current knowledge and the prescience of their insights. They will be sought after commentators.

With a quarter of Gross Domestic Product growth within the EU and 40% of productivity growth ascribed to Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), this is a way that PR can tap into the digital tsunami.

Picture: Winds of Change