A comment I got on one of my posts on Friday got me to thinking about corporate PR departments and whether they are really keeping up with the web. In this post I mentioned that I would be heading for Disney World for our traditional family reunion, but that growing crowds on Thanksgiving week would probably force us to try a different week next time. I got a comment from someone who sounded like a Disney employee, recommending a better week.
Now, I don't know if they were an employee, or whether they found the post by accident or through an active search program. But it got me to thinking. Are corporate PR departments keeping up with the web?
Back when I worked for a large corporation, we had PR people, either in or out of house, who would provide us with weekly news summaries of where the corporation was in the press. This was particularly helpful to those of us in marketing, who wanted to make sure we saw all the reviews of our product (so we could use the good ones and refute the bad ones).
In the world of the Internet, this approach seems hopelessly dated. Every day employees may be talking about the company in a chat room, customers may be commenting on the company in some place like epinions.com, blogs may be posting on the company, and authorized or unauthorized vendors may have set up shop to sell the company's products online.
How does a company keep up with all this? If I was a large company, I would be actively searching the web for key words associated with my company, looking for new posts or entries or even whole websites. Employees spilling secrets in a chat room? Need to tell legal. New web site selling our product? Send it to marketing to make sure they are authorized. Blogs posting on us? We might want to add our own comment to the post.
So I got to thinking - was that Disney that found my site? If so, is this what they are doing to manage their online PR? And if not, why aren't they doing it? You wouldn't even have to build your own search engine - just take a full snapshot of the Google results one day and compare those results to a search the next week, and look for changes.
Or, why doesn't Google provide this service to corporate accounts itself? They need something to justify their sky-high PE ratio, maybe this would help. Wouldn't Exxon pay $50,000 a year for this service? Heck I pay D&B several hundred dollars a year for a credit watch service on my credit rating, I would certainly pay some hundreds a year for a PR watch.
See comments below - the original commenter apparently not a Disney employee. Never-the-less, the idea still excites me. A company like Disney rests almost completely on its reputation - why isn't someone out on the web every day monitoring what is happening vis a vis their company?