Finding key influencers on Twitter, tracking radio, more

How can I tap into competitive moves, rumors, or predictions to improve my communications program?

Competitive strategies
How can I tap into competitive moves, rumors, or predictions to improve my communications program?

“Competitive strategies are created, products are launched, and campaigns are funded all in an effort to... ultimately out-communicate competitors,” says Nathan Michel, account supervisor at Porter Novelli. “Understanding which people to tap is important.”

Begin inside your organization – seek out frontline employees who have a good view of what's happening in the market. Consultants and partners often also work closely with competitors and can comment on issues.

“Don't forget the audience with the most rich information – your customers,” Michel says. “Customers that previously worked with a competitor may share important information of their weakness or failing.”

Finally, engage with individuals from the industry. Competitive intelligence complements research, so go one step further than reviewing public information.

“Use conversation to get to the heart of the behavior behind a challenge or competitive issue,” he says.

Influencers on Twitter
How do I find reporters and key influencers on Twitter and reach out to them?

“Research media outlet Web sites and blogs, search...Twitter directories like, and look up relevant keywords on,” says Kerri Erb, SVP and director of media services at Wheatley & Timmons.

Once you start following appropriate reporters, don't immediately pitch. Monitor their conversations, share relevant information in your Tweets, and respond to their general comments or questions. This will establish your own credibility and a Twitter relationship, and then you can look for opportunities to reach out with your pitch.

“Contact reporters with a direct message or reply to ask if they are interested in your new product, service, or company promotion,” Erb explains. “If you've worked at building a relationship, they'll be receptive.”

Radio listenership
How is radio listenership tracked? What figure is the most accurate in tracking a station's listenership?

Radio listenership is tracked through the Average Quarter-Hour figure (AQH), which is based on the average number of people listening to a radio station for five minutes during any given 15-minute period.

“Cume figures, on the other hand, include the people switching from station to station,” says Curt Gill, operations manager at News Generation. “So AQH figures are a more accurate gauge.”

The best place to get AQH figures is from an independent source like Arbitron. It gathers information much like Nielsen does with TV viewer figures, by having a pool of people track the stations they listen to during the day and provide this information to Arbitron.

“Remember that the data is not verified against an objective standards, so the station may inflate the listenership,” Gill adds.

Send your questions to: Please contact Beth Krietsch if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.

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