You’re Not Gonna Need a Bigger Boat: Finding Direction in a Sea of Big Data


Quality is simple, not easy

Back when we consumed and created messages on products made of paper, the reason that a personal Rolodex was so valuable to the PR profession was simple: the targeted, quality interaction it afforded was more likely to lead to engagement than blindly throwing out a release on the wire, or a pitch to a media database.

Looking at communications this way, things actually haven’t changed much: the key to mastering the technology-driven media landscape is finding the right conversation to have with the right person in the right place – in that order.  A quality, modern messaging campaign is data-driven, social, and understands that engagement is the key to success.

It sounds simple because it is simple.  But it’s not necessarily easy.

We need answers, not data

In today’s socially-fueled communications ecosystem, our core challenge as marketers stems from the same place that opportunity does: Big Data.  We are at the center of a chaotic, endless ecosystem of conversation.  Finding our bearings requires both a high-level view of the overall messaging horizon, and the ability to zero in on the people and places that matter.  By understanding where we’re going, why, and who’s going to be there, we stand a far better chance of engaging the right people in a quality conversation that amplifies our message.

With that in mind, the most critical tool in our PR and marketing arsenal is a sophisticated communications search engine. 

If we don’t have a tool to pinpoint what we need to inform and assist our business efforts – whether that be a journalist in the greater Sydney area who wrote positively about solar power in the past year, or a high-level understanding of what the trends are in alternative energy worldwide – a bigger haystack just means more digging work to find that needle.

The reason that a powerful communications search engine is instrumental in modern messaging efforts is because, by doing what no mere mortal can – analyzing millions of content sources in the communications ecosystem at once – it enables marketers to answer questions that used to be both difficult and time-consuming to obtain.

  • Is there a journalist out there who’s been writing positively about biodiesel in the greater Houston area in the last 3 years?
  • What are our customers saying about us?
  • Where’s the best place to introduce this message?
  • Are there any influencers worth engaging?
  • What are the general trends in our industry?
  • How are our competitors positioning themselves per geographical region?

The right conversations direct us to the right course of action

A smart, data-driven digital Rolodex for the technology-driven media landscape qualifies people by the conversations they’re having.  The modern communications ecosystem is fueled by conversation, and that conversation can start anywhere by anyone.  The right influencer for us might be a journalist, or it might be a blogger, or it might just be a brand advocate with a small but loyal following in a highly relevant social community.

By the same token, the panoramic view of the billions of content sources out there provides us the insights to make informed, data-driven business decisions.  With the tools to both navigate the ocean of data around us and get a fix on our destination, we can make sure that we’re not adrift in the middle an endless sea of information.

Or, to amend an old adage: it’s not the size of the boat, it’s focus on the locus and the precision of the vision.

INFOGRAPHIC: #Movember Buzz on Social Media

Some of our team members here at Meltwater are enthusiastically taking part in Movember, an annual charity initiative committed to saving and improving the lives of men affected by prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems.

The Movember campaign challenges men to grow moustaches during November to spark conversation and raise vital funds for men’s health programs. To date, four million moustaches have been grown worldwide and $580 million in funds have been raised.  That’s $145 per flavor savor!

This Movember infographic sums up what’s trending on social media:

This Movember infographic was made with our social listening tool, Meltwater Buzz – always fun to see what the world is talking about, especially when you’re monitoring the chatter around lip sweaters.  Speaking of the lower brow, whether you’re participating in Movember or whether you’re just a fan of ye olde bro-merang, here are 55 slang terms of endearment for moustaches.

No Excuses: Why PR Pros Should Measure Engagement  

Modern PR is about spurring engagement that moves your brand story forward.

In today’s tech-fueled communications ecosystem, we PR pros shouldn’t feel like it’s impossible to measure our activities. We now have tools available to measure and report on how we’re moving the needle by generating engagement with our PR efforts.

Better Tools Drive Better PR Engagement

It’s crucial for PR professionals to find the connection between data and the art of communications. By using tools that allow us to think about the influencer, their audience and their channel in tandem, and by looking at the intersection between them, PR pros can unlock a wealth of useful insights into how to engage influencers while providing a more accurate measure of engagement.

In order to find and understand those influencers, we must first and foremost track conversations: knowing what influencers are talking about helps us to understand both what message will resonate and what channel to use. Monitoring all public forms of communication coming from an influencer and for all the influencers relevant to your community is simply too much data for a human to sort through.

Luckily, we have access to sophisticated PR tech tools that do the work for us. There are tools available that gather and facilitate the sorting of vast amounts of data from a variety of channels. This allows us to figure out the right message for the right person that starts a conversation to amplify our message.

Stronger PR Engagement Means Measurable Results

By listening to the conversations out there with a Big Data listening tool, we PR professionals can qualify our pitching and stories to stand more of a chance to spur engagement. From that engagement we get the impressions that used to be a core KPI, but metrics like social shares are only vanity measurements that indicate community size and opportunity.

Actionable metrics, on the other hand, are a clearer indication of success. A good Big Data tool will both guide and measure engagement. A tool that allows for measurement of share of voice, conversations by geography, sentiment and more provide us with actionable metrics that allow us to circle back to our messaging program, analyze what’s working, and refine – lather, rinse, repeat.

With an arsenal of quantified results, we PR professionals can be confident in the effectiveness of our communications programs. We have no more excuses for not measuring our activities. These measurements will elevate recognition of PR activities as a business instrument and show that we are moving the needle in a meaningful way.

Barack Obama, Cuddles & Putin: G20 Social Listening

Barack Obama + Cuddles = ??????

With the conclusion of the G20 summit and APEC the week previous, there’s been no shortage of opportunities to play Word Cloud Mad Libs — Geopolitical Edition. As world leaders geared up for moments of great cooperation (and occasionally great awkwardness), we’ve been monitoring various conversations with our social listening tool for key takeaways from Brisbane. Here’s the Obama word cloud culled from the world wide interwebs:

Now, it’s not every day that we see the word “cuddles” in such close proximity to Barack Obama.  Upon further investigation (read: clicking on the word “cuddles” to dig into the tweets, comments and other sources of social convo), I discovered that koalas were being trained to cuddle with world leaders — hmm.  An Australian riff on China’s panda diplomacy, perhaps? In the lead up to the marsupials having their moment with Barack, Vladimir, Angela and frenemies, thousands of tweets went out of the koalas being groomed at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary:

I was pretty intrigued by the effort that might have gone into koala diplomacy training, but learned from early news reports that koalas are unfazed by power and are used to greeting dignitaries, from Pope John Paul II to John Travolta.  Who knew?  It turns out that preparing for G20 simply involved cuddling by humans for no more than 30 minutes a day – after all, mustn’t interrupt the 20 hours of sleep koalas need every day.  Nobody likes a grumpy koala, least of all the world leader holding one.

Was the hope that cuddling koalas during the summit would reset relationships and lay gripes and grudges to rest?  If so, the koalas were a triumph – and perhaps a little too effective. As Vladimir Putin and Tony Abbott spent some koala-ty time together, Abbott seemed to forget all about “shirtfronting” Putin (a rugby term for chest-bumping an opponent to the ground), as he had promised journalists after MH17 crashed near the Russia-Ukraine border. As a result, another field day on Twitter ensued with the koalas front and center.

So what have we learned here? With content and commentary created on a 24-hour basis, there’s no such thing as a one-off, standalone story anymore. News bites are threaded together in the most unexpected ways, and every day presents moments to get in on the conversation. If koalas can get in the middle of the continued political fallout from the downing of a passenger plane, it’s possible that there are unexpected but pertinent conversations happening around issues important to us and our brands – all we have to do is find them.

In short: an evolving social listening program is no longer a nice to have — it’s a must.  Just ask the koalas.

INFOGRAPHIC: #G20 Pre-Buzz on Social Media

G’Day G20

We Australians are thrilled to host the G20 Leaders’ Summit in sunny Brisbane (Queensland) on 15 – 16 November 2014.  The Leaders’ Summit is the most important event in the G20 year and will be chaired by the current G20 President, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The summit is the most significant meeting of world leaders Australia has hosted, and provides a valuable opportunity for world leaders to discuss a wide range of global economic issues and to use their collective power to improve people’s lives.  At the end of the summit, leaders will release a communiqué that outlines the G20 policy discussions and commitments.

We decided to take a look at G20 pre-buzz in the two weeks leading up to this momentous event.  Here’s what people are talking about in social media land: