The Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms has taken a step that we think is an industry first. The CCPRF has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) on behalf of our members inviting suppliers to provide Canada`s PR firms with a new approach to monitoring traditional and online media.
Why have we done this?
The world of media is evolving rapidly. Where we get our information has changed. People have switched much of their attention from traditional to online and social media. This also has had significant impact on the industries that monitor where information is published and that measure its reach and impact.
For many years, we’d ask media monitoring companies to monitor media for keyworks or brand names and they would deliver sheaths of hard copy clippings and video cassette tapes (remember those?). Over time, delivery methods changed to fax transmisions, CDs ,email and password protected data archives. But the media that was being monitored remained essentially the same – print, television and radio.
Then the social media revolution hit. And it wasn’t any longer just about whether people were reading content. Social media had enabled people to comment on that content. To share it. To link to it. Suddenly, we had new actions to consider and new things to measure – influence, engagement, social graphs and velocity.
A whole new generation of services emerged. Services which don’t simply enable us to monitor, but also gave us analytic tools to understand and measure the interactions that were occurring and the communities of interest that were forming.
We find ourselves dealing with a monitoring industry that has adjusted to the new environment in different ways and at different speeds. Following what’s going on has become a complex process that can involve setting up dashboards with several different suppliers. And each provides us with a unique view of different things.
Multiple offerings. Multiple methodologies. Increased complexity. Increased cost.
Just as it has been noticed that television advertising prices have not decreased in line with the diminished audiences television delivers, the prices of some of the services we use seem to be increasing while more and more of the conversations that matter occur on media they do not track. Worse, price structures for some suppliers are confusing and vary widely between customers. In fact, it sometimes feels a bit like buying a used car. A game of chicken to see who blinks first.
So, we end up having to pay more for more services, with several of them delivering less than they used to. That’s not good for our business. That’s not good for our clients.
There has to be a better way to obtain these services. This is what we’re trying to achieve.
So, we’re asking the suppliers of both online and traditional monitoring services to propose to us how they could better meet our needs at a fair price. We’re asking them to propose the most comprehensive set of offerings they are capable of. This could include individual large companies who go it alone to monitor both online and traditional media. It also could encourage firms which offer a best in class solution in specific areas to band with others to offer a comprehensive service.
Once we have identified the best offerings, we hope that we’ll be able to compare costs in a more intelligent fashion. Ultimately, we hope to find the provider who offers us the best value.
And because we use these services on behalf of our clients, they too should benefit from the best available services offered at a fair price.
Today December 17 is the day that the bids are due. I’m not sure how many or what type of responses we will receive. But I’m hopeful that the monitoring and measurement industry will provide us with creative proposals to improve upon what we now receive.
I plan to post further about this process, how it turns out and what we learn from it.