PR TECHNIQUE: Press clippings: Clippings from across the globe

As clips remain a major barometer for agencies, clipping services are responding with new offerings that satisfy PR pros' ever-increasing global needs.

As clips remain a major barometer for agencies, clipping services are responding with new offerings that satisfy PR pros' ever-increasing global needs.

When Rick Liebling handled PR for client MasterCard during the 2002 World Cup soccer tournament in South Korea and Japan, he hired not one, not two, but four clipping services. "We like dropping phone books of clips on our clients," says Liebling, an account supervisor at Alan Taylor Communications. "It's satisfying to say, 'We worked for six months, but look at these results.'" At a time when many agencies are tripping over each other unveiling new measurement tools, a lot of firms and clients still consider clips the final arbiter of a campaign's success. "When you walk into a meeting, you want to be able to have hard-copy results," says Matt Messenger, VP of corporate communication with MWW Group in East Rutherford, NJ. And increasingly, major companies need clips not just from the US, but from wherever in the world they do business. The clipping service world is dominated by a big three: Luce Press Clippings, Burrelle's Information Services, and Bacon's. Each has US operations and either affiliates or partner companies it uses around the globe to secure international clips. Clipping is still largely done the old-fashioned way at these giants - readers go through publications each day looking for mentions of clients. Publications are literally cut apart and stories are sent to clients. All offer translation services for foreign-language publications, along with basic analysis of coverage. In addition to these big three, however, many online services have popped up in recent years that scan websites and send clients either links or copies of online stories. Which service to use depends on your objectives and on how quickly you need the information. Some international companies may opt to have their offices in each country contract separately with local clipping services and then ship everything to headquarters for compilation and analysis. Others may use one major clipping service to do that nitty-gritty work. If having actual clips is a must, then consider an old-line service. If getting quick results is paramount, then the online alternatives may have the edge. PR pros like Liebling suggest using more than one option. "It's a numbers game," he says. "At the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is to get me all the clips you can. I'd rather get five or six clips that aren't mine than miss five or six that are." Chicago-based Bacon's uses sister companies or global partners to gather international clips. Last year, Bacon's was bought by Observer AB, a Swedish clipping company with offices in 13 countries and partners in 85. Bacon's fees start at $50 per month, plus $3 per clip for one country. Analysis of coverage tone, favorable or unfavorable, as well as of message points is also available. International clips are sent to clients as quickly as they're collected, usually twice a week, says Rick Loehrke, Bacon's VP of media monitoring services. "More and more clients want information faster, and with your traditional clipping services, there is lag time," he notes. In response to requests for faster feedback, Bacon's has started ExpressClips, a morning fax service that costs $395 for 100 clips, plus $3.50 per clip past 100. Online databases are searched for stories and results are sent to clients by 10am CST. Livingston, NJ-based Burrelle's can obtain clips from 70 countries, plus any others a client specifically requests, says EVP Bruce Merchant. Securing international clips can take seven to 14 days. Prices vary by scope of coverage, but usually begin at a monthly fee and an average per clip charge of $2. Burrelle's online service News-Alert scans English-language foreign media and can send results to clients daily or hourly. Luce reads and clips major English-language foreign publications in the US, and also has an online option, Luce Online, says Richard Weiner, a PR consultant to the service. Region-specific services also are available. In April 2002, PR Newswire launched L-Watch, an online clipping service that tracks both US Spanish-language publications and Latin American media in Spanish and Portuguese. Costs range from $800 to $6,000 a month, depending on the scope of coverage. It's also planning an upgrade to the service that will send clients jpeg files of actual articles and photos from publications, rather than summaries and links to online versions. The service monitors 350 US Spanish-language media outlets, as well as 600 outlets in 19 Latin American countries. Business Wire Latin America monitors 300 major national papers and trade titles across the region through its clipping service, International Media Services (IMS). Clips are sent to its Miami headquarters three times a week, and then overnighted to clients, says Hector Botero, president of IMS. Prices start at $200 a month for one country. A new service is being launched this month that will monitor news in 12 countries and send daily e-mails detailing coverage. Three-year-old CyberAlert, which views 3,000 non-US news sites, also sends daily e-mail reports of all clippings it has found the previous 24 hours. It charges a flat $395 per month. Clips are stored online in a password-protected site. It also offers AccuClip Express for $189 a month, plus $1.09 per clip. AccuClip has editors review the clips found by the company's software to further filter out articles that clients might not want, says president William Comcowich. The fact that online services are adding readers and old-line reading services are adding online options shows that no one clipping method is sure to catch all clips from every market. That's a major reason Liebling used four services for MasterCard, which got more than 1 billion media impressions during the World Cup. But even then Liebling assumes he is missing a lot of the clips. "We know we didn't get a ton of clips that ran," he says. "Unbelievable diligence is what's required from the clipping services you use. It's a matter of doing whatever it takes to get the results for our agency and our clients." -------------- Technique tips Do seek a variety of options when looking for international clips. No one approach is guaranteed to find all that's written about you or your client Do check references for foreign clipping services if you decide to contract with them directly. An international trade association, Paris-based FIBEP, exists for clippings service, and is a good reference for foreign services Do decide what's most vital in securing clips - quickly seeing the amount of coverage you received or getting actual clips Don't assume you're getting everything written from a clipping service. PR pros advise scanning websites and using services like Factiva as a back-up to clipping services Don't make your request for clips too broad. Use key words that filter out clips you don't want. Supplying a client name to search for isn't enough Don't fail to give feedback. The more you work with a clipping service on exactly what you're looking for in a clip, the better

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