Lorraine Worley, a media specialist for Factiva Inc.’s (a Dow Jones company) Asia-Pacific region, was in Mumbai recently to speak at a conference on the importance of reputation measurement, organized by the Public Relations Consultants Association of India. Factiva, a leading news and business information provider, offers companies tools to assess their competition, public image and find out what’s being written about them by scanning newspapers, message boards, blogs and other sites where consumers chat.
Worley spoke with Campaign’s Rahul Bhatia about the transparency companies need to have as well as the role of public-relations firms. Excerpts:
Factiva uses the English text for information. Doesn’t that limit the effectiveness of your service in India, where English is only one of several important languages?
It’s a bit of a challenge for us, honestly. At the moment, we don’t look at Hindi. It’s really a question of who are the clients we are working with and what are their market needs. I suppose we’re still in the early stages of what we can do in India, rather than what we eventually can do. We could potentially partner with a local company that does its analysis in the native language and we could incorporate t
hat into the overall analysis.
What kinds of companies would use this tool?
Companies across the board will use it. We work with consulting firms and advisory firms. I suppose a big target would be the business-to-consumer companies. Business-to-business companies might use it in a different way. They might use it for competitive analysis, perhaps.
Where do companies go wrong in the way they approach consumers?
I think they tend to go wrong when they’re not so transparent or truthful in what they’re setting out to do. It’s very important to be transparent.
Can you measure word-of-mouth?
That is where the consumer comes in. We try to find if there is a discussion about a product, and then we try to find the common words and phrases being used. So, there are known issues that one searches against. Our text-mining technology allows us to uncover other words and phrases against that set of criteria. So, we are able to monitor emerging threats and opportunities.
I suppose, in one sense, it’s not about word-of-mouth marketing, but you certainly will be able to put a finger on the pulse of what the man on the street is saying.
How important is it to have a good PR agency, especially in the context of their interaction with journalists?
It’s important for PR agencies and PR departments to cultivate a relationship with journalists. They have a very strategic role to play (in the process of communication), but PR professionals need to align themselves with the objectives of those corporations, and not just think that they’ve got to get their name in the paper. It’s not about the clippings, it’s about the content.