By: Stacy Rowe, Director of Client Services – Manzama
Given the volume of free, online news sources, making the case for a news aggregator is no easy task for law firm librarians or marketers. Unless, that is, you can link the purchase to increasing revenues or freeing up time to bill more hours. To do this, you need to select a platform that not only aggregates content, but also has the features and functionality to support increased efficiency, relevancy, and action.
I’m sure I’m not alone in hearing from lawyers that they already get too many email alerts or that they can find anything they need by just Googling it. Both are probably true, but how much of their valuable time is spent doing this? Time is money, especially in the life of a lawyer. And yes, you can probably get whatever you need form the web, but can you keep up with the volume? Looking at blogs alone, there are 1,400 new posts every minute. The web doesn’t sleep, and it’s impossible to keep pace.
Deploying an aggregator can lead to less emails to lawyers and a one-stop-shop for searching across all sources. I recently heard from a Managing Partner that he relies “solely on Manzama for his daily news.” In the past, he received various alerts throughout the day covering key client news, industry/practices news and general business news, from both public and subscription sources. Now, all of his feeds are packaged into one morning alert from Manzama.
Fewer emails, with better information? Sign me up!
Here are a few considerations when reviewing news aggregators that will support efficiency:
- Can personalized, automated alerts be sent to individuals and/or groups with multiple topics?
- Approximately how many sources are covered?
- Is it possible to bring in subscription content, and can the sources be provisioned to certain users?
- Does the system cover both traditional and social media?
- Can the system ingest content from both web‐based and emailed sources?
- Does the company have content partnerships allowing for access to premium content (whether free or additional fee?)
While it’s true that there’s no lack of information available for free, on the web, how much of it is really relevant? If lawyers have set up Google alerts or if you’re doing primary business research using the public web, you are probably spending a lot of time sifting through irrelevant news. This is due to the broad net that is being cast across all sources on the Internet, plus the lack of search tools and taxonomies available in news aggregators.
Legal-specific aggregators do a much better job of isolating the search results that matter to you. Case in point: Earlier this month, I was working with a Minneapolis family law lawyer to refine the search criteria that generates her daily email alert and found that one of her searches was simply set to find articles that had the word “divorce” in them. My first instinct was that her results would be too broad and thus not very helpful. I ran the search and was surprised to see just how relevant they were, with articles covering differences in divorce laws from state-to-state, recent challenges to wills amidst a divorce, and determining the value of IP in divorce cases. Then I ran a search in Google News only to find that Khloe Kardashian And Lamar Odom might be heading to divorce, along with a few interesting tidbits on Ozzy and Sharon’s divorce. Yes, I’ll admit, I do love sitting down with the most recent issue of People Magazine, but…
Here are a few considerations when reviewing news aggregators that will support relevancy:
- Does the system exclude non‐business and legal‐related content (i.e., noise)?
- Is it possible to segment and run searches on a specific source(s)?
- What types of searching are available: text, Boolean, and/or conceptual?
- Can searches be filtered by geography, competitors, areas of practice, industries, etc.?
- Are there relevant, pre-built search taxonomies?
- Is it possible to create, save, and share custom searches, whether from scratch or based on prebuilt searches?
- Are there charts, graphs, and other visual cues to support analysis?
Many years ago, I attended a public relations session, and the speaker talked about pitching stories that had a “so what.” Her point was that if you pitch an article to a reporter, you need to be able to identify why the reporter and his or her readers will care about what you have to say; that is, “so what, why does this matter to me/my readers.” I tend to apply the “so what” threshold to many other areas of my work, including what professionals do with the information they find, whether through Manzama or any other search platform.
How will you take action on the content your search platform uncovers? The answer will vary significantly depending on who is receiving the information and what their goals are. For instance, if a librarian or competitive intelligence professional is in charge of delivering a quarterly CI report to his or her executive committee, having the tools to organize articles and publish reports might be most important. A lawyer might be looking to spot opportunities to reach out to a client or to find articles that they can comment on and easily share to Twitter or LinkedIn.
Here are a few considerations when reviewing news aggregators that will support action:
- Is there a publishing tool to support curated newsletters?
- Can curated newsletters be scheduled to send on a recurring day/time?
- Can newsletters be exported as PDFs, HTML, and e ‐mail?
- Can editors alter the formatting, headlines, and summary information, as well as incorporate firm branding?
- Is the platform compatible with SharePoint and other portals? Does the company provide access to its API?
- Can RSS feeds be pushed to both internal and external portals?
- Can articles be easily shared via email or social networks?
I thought it was only fair to close my thoughts with another “so what?” How will you take action based on what you’ve read here? If you’ve been trying to gain approval to purchase a news aggregation tool, I hope this article provides you with some helpful tips for building your case. If you already have a news aggregation platform, I hope this gives you some food for thought on additional ways you might consider leveraging your platform.
To help you evaluate the range of features and functionality of news aggregators (even beyond the above), I put together the following checklist to help you find the tool that best fits your needs. We invite you to reach out to learn more about Manzama and how we can partner with you to increase your efficiency, relevancy, and action when it comes to keeping up on the news.