CATEGORY: Data Mining & Visualization

REVIEWER: Brian D. Johnson, director of corporate media relations for 3Com Corporation.

BACKGROUND: Headquartered in Santa Clara, California, 3Com is the global leader in functionally rich, easy-to-use networking products that connect businesses to their employees, customers and suppliers ­ anytime, anywhere. 3Com is also a leader in Internet protocol (IP) service platforms and access infrastructure for the network service provider market. 3Com employs 6,000 people in locations worldwide.

PLATFORMS: Market360 Enterprise from Biz360 is running on Windows 2000 and accessed via a Web browser.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The goal of 3Com's media relations team is to build, strengthen and reap the benefits of media relationships. The challenge had been the limited ability to demonstrate the real impact of public relations activities and to measure the progress of 3Com's communication programs in real time. This was critical at a time when our overall corporate strategies were changing ­ our department absolutely needed a way to produce on- the-fly reports to evaluate and adjust our efforts.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Market360 Enterprise offers us real-time analytics and reports that my team can use to improve 3Com's media relationships and stay on top of our market positioning. On a continual basis, Market360 automatically searches for coverage about 3Com and our competitors in Web, print and broadcast media outlets. In addition, our media relations team utilizes a variety of analytical and trend reports to measure our effectiveness and demonstrate the value of our communication programs. We are able to quickly benchmark 3Com's mindshare relative to our competition for a specific period or over time. For the first time, we have an efficient and effective way to monitor where our new corporate messages are being picked up in the media and to quickly update those journalists mentioning our old messages. Moreover, the media relations team can now measure how 3Com's prominence in stories has changed over time.

STRENGTHS: Market360 Enterprise automatically delivers and updates the metrics and analysis in real time. All the analyses are flexible and customizable to our individual needs. For each report, we can filter the data by time frame, publication lists and companies, as well as by attributes such as prominence and sentiment levels. Once we have defined our parameters, the reports are immediately updated and saved. Reports are also interactive, allowing us to drill down into them to uncover hidden relationships which we would not have been able to do otherwise. With Market360, we can quickly report and distribute the information to management.

WEAKNESSES: In corporate communications, one of the ways to judge the media's attitude is by rating the tone of an article. Unfortunately, because tone is highly subjective to the reader, Market360 allows us to manually set sentiment, but will not deliver an automatic rating. Also, the reports in Market360 cannot be directly exported into a word- processing program. We currently have to copy and paste the graphics into other applications.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We used another media analysis service prior to Market360. However, reports we received in the past were produced manually, which meant the analysis often took into account only a small cross-section of the coverage, not to mention that the data was stale by the time we got it. We needed actionable analysis of everything, not a postmortem of a portion. Finally, because reports were delivered in a PDF file, our media relations team could not customize them on the fly.

DELIVERABLES: Market360 delivers real-time media analysis to 3Com's media relations team, ensuring message consistency and improved initiatives. We use some of the Market360 reports on a regular basis: competitive mindshare report to benchmark 3Com's coverage against our competition; top authors and top publications report to look up key authors and publications that cover 3Com; zero mindshare authors report to reveal authors who have written about competitors but not 3Com; and message effectiveness report to track the effectiveness of key messages.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Biz360 provided us with superb pre- and post-implementation support; though as an online solution with no IT setup involved, the process was rather easy. A week prior to each release, Biz360 sends a product announcement to alert us of new features and functions. Additionally, Biz360 is working toward integrating third-party data into our analysis, which is important to my media relations team as we have access to more media information than ever before.

DOCUMENTATION: Because the Market360 user interface is so intuitive, my team has been able to use the solution without relying much on training documents. Although the user manual is available to us, we do not reference it often.

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