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NetGain Update for September

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  • Jim Rink
    NETGAIN UPDATE September 2001 ============== Published by NetGain: We build the blueprint for eCommunications. ================ What s inside... 1. NetGain
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 28, 2001
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      September 2001

      Published by NetGain: We build the blueprint
      for eCommunications.

      What's inside...

      1. NetGain Presents Online "Webinars"
      2. This Month's Topic: Online Research
      3. Guest Column: Bonnie Sherman, Ph.D
      4. Build Your Online Presence Through Audience
      5. Online Research Doesn't Mean Re-Searching
      6. We'd Like Your Views On Online Multimedia
      7. We Asked And You Told Us
      8. Reader Feedback: Knowledge Management
      9. About NetGain
      10.This Month...
      11.About This Newsletter


      Twelve hour-long workshops presented by the three NetGain
      principals (and authors of this Update) will be available
      during the fourth quarter of 2001 -- and you won't even have
      to leave your desk to participate.

      These Web-enabled seminars will combine toll-free telephone
      calls with Iternet conferencing services provided by
      ACCUTEL.COM. Webinar participants will hear the presentation
      via a telephone conferencing bridge while watching related
      presentation materials on the World Wide Web through the use
      of MSHOW technology. Participants will be able to engage the
      speaker and other participants in discussion and Q&A while

      Pete Shinbach, APR, will present four workshops on online
      public and investor relations. Tudor Williams, ABC, will
      offer four workshops on Knowledge Management issues. And
      Shel Holtz, ABC, will focus his four workshops on intranet
      matters. Each workshop will be offered twice.

      For details on workshop topics, schedule, and registration
      information, visit the NetGain Web site beginning Monday at
      http://www.netgain.org/webinars/default.htm. Registration
      and other details also will be available at


      By Tudor Williams, ABC

      Online research tools and techniques are dramatically
      changing the ways we can gather data about our marketplaces,
      our workplaces and our critics (analysts and media). Yet our
      monthly poll last month shows that the use of online surveys,
      internally or externally, is still very much in its infancy
      as a corporate practice. More than a third (37%) of our
      respondents have never used online research to survey

      employee opinions and more than half have never used online
      research to assess customer satisfaction. However, those of
      our subscribers who do use online research are very positive
      about the experience and indicate that response rates are
      higher using online tools.

      As our guest columnist, Ipsos Reid’s Bonnie Sherman points
      out the Web provides a consistent, cost-effective approach to
      global data collection. Bonnie describes how online research
      can deal with the two key concerns representatives of the
      sample and data security and introduces us to some of the new
      opportunities that online research has created.

      Shel Holtz takes us back to the fundamentals of good Web site
      planning and reminds us that too often we get the sequence of
      planning and research in the wrong order. Shel points out
      that it is our target audience that is the actual owner of
      our site and we need to deliver what the target audience
      comes looking for. He then outlines for us a number of ways
      to use online research to provide the data upon which our
      strategies and tactics should be built.

      Pete Shinbach takes a look at the other end of the research
      and planning spectrum –- performance measures. Pete
      emphasizes the advantages of using online tools and
      techniques to see the results of our communication efforts as
      they occur. He goes on to describe how he uses online
      measures to assess the effectiveness or PR programs.

      For those of our subscribers who are currently using online
      research with stakeholders, most use it to solicit feedback
      from customers and clients while about a third use it with
      industry analysts and media. Why do they use this form of
      research -- it is faster, more convenient and cheaper.

      Reasons cited for not using online research included “Target
      groups not online” and “Don’t understand it”.

      What does all this suggest? As the use of the Internet
      increases in the marketplace and the workplace so new windows
      of online opportunities are opening for us to know our
      customers and employees better. And that is competitive

      Tudor can be reached at tudor@...


      There is no doubt that the ability to conduct research online
      has accelerated product development cycles around the world,
      and provided the marketplace with rich, new tools for
      understanding behavior and attitudes.

      While many associate online research with the Technology
      sector, the truth is that the Web is used to collect data
      in all sectoral areas, from Technology to Consumer Packaged
      Goods, Financial Services, Healthcare, and more. Match the
      speed and capabilities of online data collection with a
      well-managed panel of online users, and suddenly clients have
      the ability to do fast-turnaround projects with
      pre-identified portions of the population. For example, at
      Ipsos-Reid we manage a North American Internet Panel of over
      80,000 households that are fully screened on key demographic
      and marketing characteristics. Want to quickly understand how
      young, high-income families with children choose their
      financial products? Not a problem!

      What if you want to understand segments of the global
      population, though? The Web offers this opportunity as well.
      Many clients opt to do "pop-up" surveys at their own sites
      around the world, while others purchase banner ads or use
      customer lists. Software packages allow for scripting in
      European as well as Asian languages. While global research is
      never simple, the Web provides a consistent and
      cost-effective approach to global data collection.

      Two of the key concerns regarding online research are
      representativeness and security. At Ipsos-Reid our Internet
      Panel is representative of all Internet users. Samples are
      balanced to population statistics on age, gender, region, and
      other variables. Currently, the online population is not
      completely representative of the general population. However,
      as more people obtain web access (currently at 60-70% in
      North America) this is becoming less of an issue. Because
      there is no way to "randomly sample" the Internet population,
      the quality of your sample source is of the utmost

      Just as important to clients is the security of their data.
      We ensure data security in a number of ways:

      * Tight sampling control. When potential respondents are
      invited to complete a survey, they are provided with a
      unique passcode and PIN to ensure that there are no
      duplicate responses, and that only invited participants can
      access the survey.

      * Our servers operate with Secure Socket Layer (SSL) data
      encryption, which ensures clients and respondents that
      nobody else can access survey data.

      * Often we present respondents with brand-new concept ideas
      that clients are anxious to protect. We use a software
      product that prevents respondents from saving, downloading,
      printing, or sending the concepts that they are exposed to.

      In fact, no type of research has moved more quickly from
      offline to online than concept testing. Companies worldwide
      are saving millions of dollars and months of time by moving
      their concept testing from more traditional methods to

      Online testing allows respondents to view simple or complex
      concepts visually. In addition to presenting simple visual
      stimuli, online testing also allows for the presentation of
      streaming video. Clients can test television advertisements
      in an online environment.

      Perhaps most importantly, running concept tests online saves
      time and money. Companies are looking for ever-faster
      turnaround times to speed up their product development cycle,
      and online testing is a valuable tool in this regard. In the
      end, meeting clients' needs is what online research is all


      Bonnie Sherman, PhD, is president and CEO of Ipsos
      Interactive Services, a unit of Ipsos-Reid. You can contact
      Bonnie at Bonnie.Sherman@...


      by Shel Holtz, ABC

      Far too often, we build a Web site and then conduct research
      to find out what our target audience thinks of it. From where
      I sit, that's backwards. The research should be done up front
      with the goal of identifying what the nature of the Web site
      should be from the perspective of those for whom it is being

      I've been saying for some time that your organization should
      view your intended audience as the actual owner of the site.
      After all, it doesn't matter what you put on the site, how
      great it looks, how accurate or credible it is, or how much
      you've loaded it with bells and whistles. Your audience will
      visit your site =only= in search of content they already have
      in mind. if that content does not exist on your site, then it
      is useless to the members of the audience. In an earlier
      issue of Update, Pete Shinbach talked about research into
      what journalists want to find on media-focused sites. Contact
      information is the number-one nugget of information they
      seek, yet that information appears on only a fraction of the
      newsrooms online. What companies =do= post on their newsroom
      sites may or may not be of any use to journalists seeking

      What belongs on your site, then, is what your target audience
      is likely to come looking for. And how can you know what that
      is if you don't ask?

      One of the best ways to mine that information is to establish
      an advisory panel for the site's target audience. Define the
      characteristics and attributes of the audience. For example,
      your media relations site may focus on trade media working
      for print monthly publications. Those journalists are
      (hypothetically) between 25 and 35 years old, have a
      bachelor's degree in journalism, and have been working for
      the trade publication for no more than three years. Once you
      have developed your trait list, find 10 individuals who match
      the profile. This will be a standing body, representing the
      "owners" of the site.

      You will have the opportunity to use all manner of online
      research with your advisory panel (none of whom ever have to
      be in the same place at the same time). To begin with, you'll
      want to know their expectations for a Web site from your
      organization. For this you can use an online survey, followed
      up with a real-time focus group. Once you have built the
      site, provide this group with password-protected access so
      they can provide feedback before you go live to the at-large
      audience. Provide the panel with a secure discussion area
      where they can engage in a dialogue with one another about
      the site (with the full knowledge that you'll be monitoring
      -- and participating in -- the discussion). After the site
      has launched, have the panel continue to use the secure forum
      to comment on emerging needs and to react to changes you
      make. As you add new features, be sure to get feedback from
      the panel.

      In addition to the research you obtain from the panel, you
      can offer surveys and polls to the at-large audience; you can
      also conduct one-time focus groups with randomly-selected
      members of the audience who match the user profile. Because
      the site was developed specifically to meet the needs of the
      audience it's designed for, and because changes and additions
      will be based on user feedback, you will be certain your site
      is a success.

      You can get Shel's feedback at shel@...


      by Pete Shinbach, APR

      While I've never given it much thought, word anatomy can be
      interesting. Take the word "research." Break it up into
      syllables and you end up with re-search. Translation: search
      all over again. Search once then search again. And,
      presumably, again and again.

      But there's something I've been noticing during the past year
      or so. If we set aside traditional research methods and adapt
      some more, less apparent methods, we're able to change that
      backward-looking searching to more forward-looking solutions.
      Sorry for the jargon. Let me explain.

      Using online tools and techniques, we're able to see the
      results of our communications programs as they occur. We
      don't have to look back to see what happened. We can look at
      what's happening and gauge the success or lack of success our
      messages are realizing. As one or our Update Reader Poll
      respondents wrote, "We are able to launch a campaign (and)
      watch it online even though we were scattered all over the
      U.S. ... and complete the program within a few weeks. That
      would never have happened with a traditional focus group."
      Heck, it wouldn't have happened with a traditional anything!
      A quantitative survey would only tell you what happened --
      past tense. A focus group would tell you what might happen --
      conditional future tense. A well-thought out, carefully
      deployed online research program will tell you what is
      happening -- present tense.

      One way this is being accomplished is by monitoring real-time
      Web traffic originating from email messages and newsletters.
      If my newsletter goes to my customers, my prospects, my
      employees, my shareowners, and other groups of my key
      influentials, and that newsletter has a summary of a white
      paper or news release or other document that's sitting on my
      corporate website, I can measure precisely how many people in
      each of those groups read that document. What's more, I can
      know if they pass my newsletter along to other people and
      what those people do in response to the messages contained in
      the newsletter.

      I can do the same thing with websites, newsgroups, chat rooms
      and any other form of communications that shows up on my key
      influentials' screens. Then, I can take all that data and
      compare it with all the forecasts and assumptions I and
      others made when planning the communications program and test
      the validity of those forecasts and assumptions.

      And then I don't have to go searching and re-searching any
      more. I'll know. And so will the Update reader who, in
      response to one of our Reader Poll questions, wrote, "What
      are some simple and easy processes PR people could use to
      measure their programs?"

      Reach Pete at pete@...


      Are you webcasting your quarterly financial analyst
      conference calls? When your company or client launches a new
      TV advertising campaign, where are you seeing the new ads for
      the first time: on TV or on your intranet? And do you still
      have to go to some conference or classroom for all your
      training or can you just logon to a website for a training
      course or a professional development webinar? In other
      words, what's going on with multimedia? That's the topic for
      next month's Update and we want to know how your companies
      and clients' companies are using online multimedia.

      Please take a few minutes to share your experience with other
      Update readers by filling our our monthly Update Reader Poll.
      It's at:

      We'll share the results with you in our October issue.

      In the meantime, please share your thoughts about topics
      you'd like to see in upcoming issues or anything else you
      think NetGain can do to help you and your organization use
      online communications more successfully. Just drop us a note
      at info@....

      And remember to fill out the monthly Update Reader Poll at


      Last month's Update Reader Poll was about online research. We
      wanted to know if you're using it and what you think about
      it. What you told us is that online research is pretty good.
      It's not great. Just pretty good. Two-thirds of you who
      responded said your experience with online research was good
      or very good while less than ten percent said it was poor or
      very poor.

      On the "plus" side, the overwhelming reasons why you're using
      it are that it's cheaper (64%), faster (84%) and more
      convenient (88%). One reader wrote, "We get good response
      rates. We get them quickly." Another noted, "We were able to
      launch a campaign, the management team could easily WATCH
      online… That would never have happened with a traditional
      focus group."

      Despite these reasons to use online research, it was
      interesting to see how infrequently it's being used. When
      asked how often online research is used to survey employees,
      64-percent of you said either "annually" or "never" and more
      than half of you said your company never uses online research
      to assess customer satisfaction.

      In addition, there are many doubts about the validity of
      online research results. For some of you, there's the
      question of skewing the results to include only those with
      online access. For others, there's senior management's lack
      of trust in online survey results.

      And, finally, the main reasons those of you who do not or
      plan to use online research said your research stays offline
      is that your target groups weren't online (57%) or that you
      don't understand online research (57%). Other reasons most
      often cited (43%) were that you either lack the technical
      resources for or are simply uncomfortable with online


      Last month's topic, Knowledge Management, generated more
      email than we have received in a long time. Most of the
      messages applauded the columns. Reader Jim Heimberg, however,
      had an alternate view. Heimberg is a technical sales
      engineer for Conclusive Logic Inc. in Hanover, Maryland. Jim
      offered his comments, which follow, under the title
      "Knowledge Management and Business Communication -- Is There
      Really a Difference?"

      After reading the plethora of articles on knowledge
      management and being focused on doing that exact function in
      a working organization, I feel like the articles were good at
      describing KM to someone who did not know what it was, but
      found them lacking in providing information to Business
      Communicators who should be involved in KM. In fact, I am not
      sure that there is a difference. Let me continue.

      If asked to define one purpose for performing the KM
      function, it has to be the gathering of undocumented data and
      information for the purpose of disseminating it as knowledge,
      in other words, in a usable form within an organization and
      to its various publics. To me, this requires every bit of
      skill a professional business communicator can muster all the
      way from strategic planning, through presentation, to
      measurement of the impact of doing the job. I fully agree
      that if we do not become the knowledge managers, we are not
      performing in our assigned roles.

      Yet there is a certain daring to be able to know when to go
      out there and start being an information gatherer rather than
      just being a disseminator. Yet, that is in our roots, whether
      we start in public relations, journalism, or even in
      technical communications. The difference here is that we have
      the bent of having been focused in finding the information
      that is needed and answering the mail or resolving the
      problem: being in the crisis mode. If we are going to move
      from reactivity to proactivity in our profession, the next
      step is to go out and gather information before there is a
      crisis and to determine the dissemination methodology before
      it is needed so that when the crisis arrives, we are there to
      resolve it and provide the value add from having a team of
      professional communicators in an enterprise.

      More than 20 years ago at a conference of the International
      Association of Business Communicators (IABC), I learned that
      if we (communicators) are truly doing our job, we are living
      on the edge, doing that which is daring, and taking the risks
      of communicating even before there is sufficient cause for us
      to be directed to specifically communicate. At that point in
      my career, I started to appreciate what has become KM through
      the systematic study of how data and information are
      disseminated. Now, we are at the beginning edge of a new and
      different society in which information flow is faster and
      more varied that could be imagined, even those scant 20 years
      ago. The former communicators our profession fostered early
      on would not have the skills or the ability to deal with this
      new world and there could not have been any one there to
      teach them.

      We observe dialog, both written and verbal, about information
      warfare, information overload, and about knowledge being
      power. Yet, some of us do not realize that we are in the
      trenches. We are the ones responsible for making sure that
      the message is not the media (or at least does not get lost
      in the media), that we do not disseminate more than our
      publics can accept (or find acceptable), and that our
      communications are meaningful to our publics.

      Thus, if you try to separate KM from Business Communications,
      you get an impractical form of manipulation of data that
      allows for misrepresentation, crisis, and general chaos in
      business and certainly does not make it a bottom line item
      for business. At the same time, if you separate Business
      Communications from KM, you have exactly the type of
      communicators that I believe each of us does not want to
      become or to wear as a label, flacks. The two must merge for
      either to succeed in the future.

      Jim is available at jimhei@...


      NetGain is a group of high-end communications
      consultants who work with leading companies and
      associations to help them achieve strategic communication
      objectives using online technology. NetGain delivers
      onsite consulting, phone consulting and one-day seminars
      at the client's offices. For information, send email to

      To find out more about NetGain, send an email message to


      Jim Rink
      AAA Michigan
      1 Auto Club Drive, Dearborn, Mich. 48072
      voice 313.336.1513 fax 313.336.0986

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