PR TECHNIQUE CLIPPING SERVICES: Paper vs online clip services - Some media pros dedicate hours to online searches for mentions of their clients. Art Garcia discovers that Internet clipping services are being used at an ever-increasing rate

Thanks to the expansive reach of the Internet, companies and agencies are harvesting news clips off the Web, leaving a question mark over the future of traditional clipping services. Even senior managers are jumping online to read about their companies before their PR agencies or corporate departments can gather and bundle electronic clips.

Thanks to the expansive reach of the Internet, companies and agencies are harvesting news clips off the Web, leaving a question mark over the future of traditional clipping services. Even senior managers are jumping online to read about their companies before their PR agencies or corporate departments can gather and bundle electronic clips.

Thanks to the expansive reach of the Internet, companies and

agencies are harvesting news clips off the Web, leaving a question mark

over the future of traditional clipping services. Even senior managers

are jumping online to read about their companies before their PR

agencies or corporate departments can gather and bundle electronic

clips.



’We’re finding our executives are increasingly turning to the Internet

for moment-by-moment news so it’s very common to see Yahoo! up on

somebody’s monitor,’ says Michele Somsak, manager of media and financial

communications at Hewlett-Packard. ’In fact, company lawyers often alert

me to things online before I’ve seen them myself.



But this isn’t always a positive for PR pros. ’One thing that drives PR

teams crazy, whether corporate or agency, is executives seeing company

news on their own, as opposed to PR being proactive,’ says Lou Hoffman,

head of the Hoffman Agency in San Jose.



Online access plays directly into the ’mind-set of clients,’ which today

is ’built around immediacy,’ says Mark Williams, president of

Harpell-Martin’s PR division. ’The fact you have to wait for some time

before you can access clips from the paper-based services puts them at a

real competitive disadvantage. Search engines have become the de facto

replacement.’



So much so that Katie Paine, president of Delahaye MediaLink in

Portsmouth, NH, is convinced most standard clipping services are going

to be out of business in five years: ’because I don’t think they’re

going to matter.’



The big clipping operations - Burrelle’s, Luce Clippings, Bacon’s

Information - in addition to Allen’s, Northern Lights and other regional

services, do provide online clipping but Paine believes it’s too little,

too late.



Despite Paine’s dire prediction, Michael Buxbaum, director of business

development at Bacon’s in Chicago, argues there’s still a place for

clipping services like his in a wired world. ’When you try to pull

something up on the Internet, whether through an automated Web clipping

service or just a simple search, you end up pulling up a pile of other

stuff with it,’ he says.



That’s why there’ll always be a need for ’human intervention’ to provide

’clean’ data. The other issue, says Buxbaum, ’is that there’s only about

20% of the content from the 20,000-plus publications out there that’s in

electronic format, and they only carry original content.’



Web searches don’t tell PR clients how a story was positioned in a print

publication, whether it ran on the front page of a newspaper’s business

section or was picked up in syndication. Search engine technology has

broadened the field, he acknowledges, but hard-copy clipping services

’have the expertise. We’ve got 500 people reading through all the

hard-copy newspapers.’ Meanwhile, new technologies will allow

traditional services to be more exact by automatically scanning every

page of all 20,000 publications in the market.’ By next year, he says,

Bacon’s will be providing such edited Web-clipping services.



PR clients increasingly are asking for online clippings so Luce,

third-largest of the traditional services, responded by launching an

online service.



But Richard Weiner, a PR consultant to Luce, stresses that online clips

don’t offer ’the headlines, photos, graphics, the way the story looks on

the page. You don’t get the feeling of the newsprint - which makes it

more important for clients to have two clipping services, one to handle

online, the other the thousands of print versions,’ he adds.



No big deal, shrugs Cindy Landers, PR director for Jiffy Lube in

Houston, who says that Dow Jones Interactive CustomClips ’works

wonderfully’ for her. Senior execs want to see news pertinent to the

company ’fresh and a little at a time. They’re not interested in seeing

them three months old in a stack of paperwork that’s four inches

high.’



Best of all, Landers and her staff don’t have to go online to pull down

clips. The Dow Jones service feeds into her e-mail box and gives her the

option of accessing an entire story or reading just the headline and

lead paragraph. Each clip comes with a word-count header and indicates

whether there’s a photo with the story.



The service allows Landers to have five staffers monitoring up to 25

different subject folders for references that ’align with what the

company is currently doing. You can tell it not to notify you when

something hits a particular electronic folder,’ she says.



Such tailored and targeted customized services clearly play a major role

in the future for clippings, revolutionizing the speed at which execs

can learn about their coverage. But it also means that for PR pros, the

whole process of defining results will get harder.



’Online editions change every few minutes,’ Weiner points out, ’so now

the client say somebody just called and said they saw the company’s name

in a story on their computer, and asked, ’Why haven’t you sent that to

me?’’ The world of clips is changing fast.



ONLINE CLIPPING SERVICES



Bacon’s Information



Chicago



Tel: 800-776-3342



Fax: 312-922-3127



www.baconsinfo.com



Burrelle’s Information



Services, Livingston, NJ



Tel: 800-631-1160



Fax: 201-992-7675



www.burrelles.com



Dow Jones Interactive



CustomClips, Princeton, NJ



Tel: 800-369-7466 Fax: 609-520-4775



www.djinteractive.com



Luce Online, Scottsdale, AZ



Tel: 602-922-1775



Fax: 602-922-3174



www.lucepress.com



Allen’s Press Clipping



Bureau, San Francisco



Tel: 415-392-2353



Fax: 415-362-6208



(no Web address).



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