August 19th, 2009
PositivePress: Iterasi uses Web archiving technology to track traditional and social media coverage
Now, you may not realize this, but during my day job I’m constantly sifting through media reports. Gargantuan PDFs or documents that contain a series of clipped links and snippets about specific clients or subjects. The reports are unwieldy at best. And I can only imagine what kind of workload this effort creates for the agencies that compile them for me—and any number of other clients—on a daily basis.
Long story short, the whole “tracking media coverage” thing—whether for PR firms or otherwise—could use some help. And don’t even get me started on the whole social media angle.
[Editor: In the interest of full disclosure, I have been a paid consultant for Iterasi in the past. Some of that consultation was related to PositivePress. I was not involved in the launch or promotion of the product.]
You may remember Iterasi as the service that I touted as “giving you your own personal Wayback Machine.” That functionality showed a great deal of promise—but it didn’t promise a great deal of revenue. So the folks at Iterasi decided to retool a bit, finding an application for their technology that solved a particular business need. An application that also had the potential for supporting a “for pay” model.
The result of that retooling? Iterasi’s archiving technology seemed perfectly suited for media coverage. So with PositivePress they’ve taken on the effort of fixing the whole media coverage tracking problem. How? By giving public relations types a simple way to track terms and topics and create agency-branded client consumable reports with a few simple clicks.
And its those reports that Josh Lowensohn of CNET sees as the high-point for PositivePress:
These reports are one of the areas where PositivePress shines. The service lets users brand these to match their company. It also tracks how many people have viewed it and who originally put it together, meaning that if it’s stuck into an e-mail, the creator knows how many people have seen it while he or she gets the credit for making it.
How does the content get in there? Well, I know the data geeks around here will be happy to hear that—unlike its original manually controlled tool—Iterasi is using RSS feeds as the mechanism to feed its archiving engine. Simply point PositivePress at an RSS feed and it will archive anything and everything in that feed—and it will continue to do so every time the feed changes.
We really didn’t have to look too far to find the best method to monitor and capture interesting stories on the Web. Real Simple Syndication (RSS) is both simple and ubiquitous. It is simple in that it exists on virtually every news source, blog, search engine and social media source. Most browsers identify RSS feeds automatically. RSS has emerged as the de-facto technology used throughout the Internet to pass information. Think of RSS as the silk that makes the Internet into a Web. From simple tools like browser-based readers to complex programming tools like Yahoo Pipes, RSS is the answer to subscribing to information flow in the Open Web.
Not an RSS savant or aspiring to be the next Marshall Kirkpatrick? That’s okay. PositivePress has a wizard that will help you get the RSS feeds into the product quickly and easily.
Tracking temperamental Twitter
It seems interesting that on the same day that ReTweet is waging war on Tweetmeme, we have a local company entering the fray with a product that promises to change the way people look at the conversations and shared links on Twitter.
Yes, yes. Tracking Twitter is all the rage with the kids these days. And in talking to Pete Grillo, Iterasi’s CEO, it’s clearly that Twitter archiving feature of which the Iterasi folks are most proud.
What’s it do? Well, the Twitter archiver works just like the other options, archiving tweets as they arrive. But here’s the interesting thing. If you’ve got a link in that tweet? PositivePress will go out and archive that page as well. Not only that, but it will associate the archived tweet and the archived page, so that you’ve got some connective tissue there, relating the two.
Why is that a big deal? Well, anyone who has used Twitter realizes that it can be a little temperamental at times. Tweets randomly disappear. Search is limited in its scope. Many historical tweets are completely inaccessible. Well, and then there’s always the FAIL whale.
And that says nothing of the links that are being shared and shrunk and whatnot. Those pages are equally here today, gone tomorrow.
So what we’ve got today is a fairly unreliable anecdotal record of the word of mouth conversations that are occurring on Twitter. What good is that? Well, it’s a lot of good today. But not so much tomorrow. And even less the next day.
With PositivePress archiving the tweet and any other related pages, we may be getting close to an accessible historical record of what’s actually happening on Twitter. That promises some pretty interesting analysis and whatnot. And for as much interest as corporations have in tracking what’s said about them on Twitter, that PositivePress Twitter feature may prove to be a very big deal.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
Current Iterasi user? Things just got Personal
While mucking around with their new product, Iterasi spent some time retooling their original product. It’s now called Iterasi Personal. And a few things have changed. The most noticeable change? No more bookmark importing.
We have also removed ‘Import Bookmarks’ as an option. This feature costs us a lot in terms of bandwidth and performance and was getting limited use. It may reappear but, frankly put, it requires too much horsepower to be given away for free. So if it reappears it will most likely be as part of a monthly-subscription product.
But there’s also some tweaks to the interface which should improve the usability of the site. And hopefully, those will carry with them some performance improvements, as well.
So carry on with your archiving. As you were.
Are you getting PositivePress?
Pricing for PositivePress starts at $99 per month for up to 25 feeds and 5,000 archived pages per month. Need unlimited feeds? You’ll be looking at $699 per month. Of course, if you’re a PR firm that can replace the hassle of your current client clipping service routine, that may seem like a pittance. All accounts include a 30-day free trial.
For more information on PositivePress and Iterasi Personal, visit Iterasi.