What can communicators learn from a paper map?

When I started out in public relations, one of the most thrilling parts of my job was the travel. The new cities to explore, the adrenaline of managing unforeseen challenges, the thrill of a key event coming together. But it was also a huge hassle. Every trip involved planning out routes in advance, preparing directions and painstakingly working to understand how to navigate around a new city. Maps were an essential part of the PR tool box and meeting binder – remember those?

Once the internet became accessible, all that changed. In a short span of time, I was looking up directions on MapQuest from my desktop computer, printing off a step by step guide to each turn. Just a few years later I was renting cars with small black boxes to access global positioning system (GPS) technology that could help me navigate almost any city in the world. But these tools still had a shortcoming: the inability to respond in real-time. If there was an accident on the exit that your printed directions or GPS told you to take, you just had to sit and wait for it to clear. Or it was right back to the map!

Now I have Waze on my phone, giving me access to every road in the world in a few short clicks and re-routing me in real-time based on algorithms that use historical and real-time travel data. The thrill of travel is still there, but the anxiety around it is not – leaving me free to focus on the more important aspects of a trip, whether it’s for business or pleasure.

This is not an unfamiliar journey. Technology has been saving us time and effort in our day-to-day professional lives for centuries. In fact, it’s so familiar a journey that we applied this same idea in our development of our marketing intelligence platform, Galileo6.

Social and traditional media monitoring is an essential function for all communicators. There’s no disputing that. But traditionally it was time consuming and it wasn’t real-time. The same way we printed our MapQuest directions and put them in the glove compartment for the next day’s journey, we cut out relevant newspaper clippings and faxed them to our clients for review.

Now, with the rise of digital media, we have dashboards that aggregate all these mentions. And while this is faster, it’s not enough – while the digital tools we are using are new, it’s still the same method. We are electronically cutting out articles and e-mailing them to our clients in a report. Today media monitoring is all about VOLUME and SPEED. Did we get everything? Did we get it to our client faster than the other agency? With over one billion posts on social media every two days there has to be a better way…

So we set out to really push monitoring to the next level. To take it from MapQuest to real-time GPS. To focus on real-time RELEVANCE and IMPACT, not volume and speed. Ultimately I want my teams to spend their time answering the questions: What does it all mean? Which article or post matters most for my clients? What impact might it have on their business? And not: Do we have everything? Did we get it to the client first? At the end of the day, the best clients are paying us to think on their behalf and provide meaningful insight that matters, not to produce out of date reports of all the noise there is about a brand.

Galileo6 applies machine learning to organize mentions and surface only the relevant ones, based on each brand’s unique needs. It then allows us to drill down into the relevant mentions to learn as much as we can, as fast as we can, so we can assess issues before they break, identify and take advantage of opportunities that are emerging and more. Ultimately, this is what drives results above and beyond business goals – smart, informed strategy that is flexible and evolves over time, based on real-time inputs.

The car accident throwing a wrench in my travel plans is the same as an unexpected news story throwing off your position in a communications strategy. But with the use of today’s respective machine learning platforms, which leverage both real-time and historical inputs to surface insights that allow for optimization, we’re now able to adjust in real-time as well – ensuring your route or your strategy stay on point.

There will always be something exciting about grabbing a map and heading off on a new adventure. But that’s a hobby to be enjoyed in its own right, and not something I want to contend with when I’m traveling professionally or on tight timelines. That same sentiment applies to monitoring. If you want to grab a cup of coffee and sit down on a Tuesday morning with a stack of newspapers for the sheer enjoyment of it, have at it. In fact, for nostalgia’s sake, I just may come and join you with a pair of scissors!

Galileo6 is a premier marketing intelligence tool focused on delivering game-changing communications insights through a robust, integrated view of earned and social media along with paid and even owned channel integration including websites and sales data. Galileo6 was shortlisted for The Holmes Report In2 SABRE Award for Best in Marketing Technology. For more information or to request a demo, please visit: galileo6.net.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Jonathan Wilson, Spectrum President and CEO.

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