Power Searching for PR Professionals

By Bob Geller, Senior Vice President, NY

Although Google has done a great job with search, the iconic blank screen with a simple , stark search box has dumbed down the art of finding things on the Web.

Ever more powerful algorithms improve relevancy of results, relieving people of the burden of actually understanding how search works (and lessening the need to master advanced search). In short, better search capabilities bring better search to more people, making it unnecessary to be search experts.

Yet for the PR professional – and other knowledge workers – this can be a dangerous thing. The specific ways in which you enter your search (and where you go to search) can mean big differences in the results you get.

We need to understand what search covers and what it doesn’t (not all print hits wind up online, of course, general Web searching is not necessarily the same as blog searching, and there is no single place to go to that I am aware of – for free, on the Web, or even from paid content libraries – that includes everything), and how to structure search differently for different engines to get what we want, and how to master advanced techniques such as using search operators, wildcards, etc., and how to search metadata.

Advanced, unstructured data searching, reporting, analysis and content mining tools will increasingly help us make sense of facts and opinion, check the state of thought in certain areas, make sense of what is being written, track conversations that count, explore the frequency in which themes and concepts are explored, and determine the penetration and prevalence of key messages for our clients, employers and competitors.

Armed with these capabilities, we can start answering the following questions:

· What issues are emerging and rising in importance?

· Where are our clients/employers mentioned, in what context (positive, negative, neutral) and for which audiences?

· Which influencers are rising and which ones are yesterday’s news?

· Are desired messages getting through?

· And are we getting our fair share of attention and coverage?

To find out more about Power Searching for PR Pro’s, including a list of Power Searching Web links, please visit Flack’s Revenge

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