Online News Enterprise Reporting Can Be Measured
“What is enterprise reporting?” The question was posed to me by a top manager apparently addressing the issue with his editorial staff. Sounds like an easy question to answer . . . maybe. In fact there’s a lot more to defining enterprise than meets the eye. Enterprise is an important missing link that shows up repeatedly during the annual B2B e-news delivery studies conducted by Editorial Solutions Inc. To a certain extent, enterprise can be linked to presence or absence of direct quotes from end-users. But can enterprise be measured? The answer now is “yes.”
But it took additional input from a B2B superstar and frequent award winner—Deborah Lockridge—to clarify the challenge. Editor-in-chief of Heavy Duty Trucking, Deborah believes enterprise is a competitive element worth tracking. “We’ve been trying to ramp up our amount of enterprise reporting this year,” she said, “but I’m really not sure how to measure it, other than tracking bylined pieces. Basically, we’re putting a byline on anything that’s not simply a press release rewrite.”
This includes cases “where we’ve followed up on a press release, getting additional comment or explanation from the company or reaction from users or other industry sources. We also are putting bylines on curated content where a fair amount of work has gone into reading the various coverage out there and compiling a report, or adding our own analysis to something that’s been reported elsewhere.”
Wow! Those are marching orders that more B2B online news managers should follow. Instead, my studies historically have suggested that close to two-thirds of posted online news is nothing more than PR rewrite. Always intrigued by ways to quantify editorial performance, I’ve begun testing an “enterprise presence” calculation that reflects the percentage of total e-news posts where reporters went the extra mile to get the best possible story. At the outset, I’ve established an enterprise target of at least 60% of recent posts.
I arrive at my percentage on the basis of a three-fold evaluation—high, low, or missing in action. Differentiation is based on the degree of extra effort put into an article. “High” would earn points because multiple sources were pursued. “Low” probably applies to a single source. “Missing in action” is exactly that. This last category would include reproduced, unedited releases and other secondary sources where the article as posted originally appeared elsewhere.
Make no mistake: Evaluation can be tricky. For example, if a 10-article sample includes several posts quoting multiple sources, you might conclude the effort is a clear winner. But what if most of those quotes were picked up directly from PR announcements? During a recent competitive analysis project, I asked the client whether several news articles using multiple quotes were obtained via interview. In fact, 70% of the quoted material admittedly was pick-up content.
I have applied my calculation experiment to the 50 sites assessed in my most recent Phase VII e-news delivery study. Of those 50 sites, 17 earned an enterprise presence rating of 70% or higher; 14 trailed the pack with scores below 50%. Look at it this way: if your enterprise score is higher than 60% while all your competitors lag behind in the sub-50% category, that’s information you and your sales staff can use to advantage.
By this time, you may be wondering what yardstick I’ve chosen that reflects enterprise expertise. I’ll reveal all in a follow-up article that shows what happens when you apply the system on a market-by-market basis.