The relationship between media relations and reputation management is as close as the relationship between a light switch’s “on” and “off” functions. In most cases, media relations ought to be so closely monitoring reputation that it actually flips the switch when a crisis flares and endangers an organization’s brand.
Think about crisis prevention and management like a forrest ranger standing in a fire tower located atop the highest point in a national park. He peers through his binoculars and scans the endless timber below looking for that little wisp of smoke that triggers an action plan. Now, equate a media relations manager (or someone similar) with that ranger, and media monitoring as the scanning of the forrest. You need the right tools to successfully head off problems.
Corporate reputation does matter (as I wrote earlier), and for years Google Reader has been my go-to tool for media and reputation monitoring. However, the announcement a couple of days ago that Google is discontinuing Reader in a few months sent me scrambling for an alternative. There is an online petition circulating to urge Google to reconsider, but I have a client that needs a reliable monitoring tool right now and in the future. After hours of tinkering with one after another yesterday, I’ve decided on Feedly.
I chose Feedly for three primary reasons (and a host of lesser reasons).
1. It quickly pulls in Google Reader feeds with one click.
This is a huge time saver, especially if you have multiple blogs and news topics you’re tracking. Some of my lists have been built over years. I also liked that it kept my lists intact, grouped under the headings I’ve developed in Google Reader.
2. The interface is clean and flexible
I don’t need to read every story every day. Sometimes, if a crisis is brewing, I scan headlines and summaries. Feedly allows me to change the interface to mirror Google’s “Gmail” inbox look, but it also allows me at least five other views that give variations of the magazine look of Flipboard or my Associated Press iPad/iPhone app.
3. Feedly has an app for both my iPhone and iPad.
Some of the Feedly alternatives I found did pull Google Reader feeds, but they either don’t have mobile apps or they are in development. The ability to check feeds frequently if crisis is brewing is imperative. The Feedly apps mirror the desktop, web-based version so I have familiarity and seamless coverage of my customized feeds at all times.
There are a number of available alternatives but one thing that made me nervous about them is that they are mostly dependent on Google Reader’s feeds, and once Reader goes away, those applications won’t work (or work as well). It is certain that developers will be scrambling between now and July to resolve that issue. My understanding is that Feedly already has.
The down side to Feedly at this point is revenue model. It is currently free (as opposed to some of the others) and I couldn’t find where there are plans to charge a fee for the service in the future. However, whereas Google has a broad revenue stream, Feedly has none so sustainability may become an issue.
Ultimately, the important point is to find a tool that works best for your situation that allows you to keep watch over your organization’s reputation. Feedly happens to be my new tool…for now.