Objects In The Rearview Mirror…

Published on: May 16, 2019

On April 22 of this year, ProPublica released the first of a series of findings from an investigation into Intuit TurboTax, which found that the service was erroneously charging people to file their taxes and that it’s coding was keeping the free version of the service hidden from search engines’ indexing. The initial stories were published without comment iterating TurboTax’s perspective, and although TurboTax eventually reached out to say they were reviewing and revising their code it was already too late, the damage was done.

Shortly after each original story was published, they were reprinted by other publications and across social media. All of these reprints suggested spokespeople couldn’t be reached for comment. Before long, this chatter became follow-up stories and attracted the attention of lawmakers. Rep. Katie Porter, fresh off her scrap with JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, took note of the allegations and one week after the initial investigation sent letters to FTC and IRS regulators asking them to look into the allegations.  

Parent company Intuit’s stock consistently dropped following these allegations as the company scrambles to do damage control, but the problems for Intuit and its investors appear to be far from over. As recently as this past Friday, May 3, Senator and 2020 Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren called for a probe of these practices and today, May 6, the City of Los Angeles sued Intuit and H&R Block over these allegations. 

The nexus of crisis communications and investment operates as a car speeding down a busy highway with the Autobahn’s speed restrictions and the NJ Turnpike’s rules of engagement. Every action has consequences both benign and potentially catastrophic, and objects pass in the blink of an eye; it’s a fine wire to walk, as the larger the delay in action or reaction the larger the consequences for all involved.  

If a company functions as a vehicle, then media intelligence functions as its safety features like mirrors and periphery cameras, with the ultimate goal of functioning as damage mitigation features like seatbelts and airbags. Effective media intelligence can help prevent these sorts of response delays by providing a fuller picture of the circumstances surrounding a company and the issues, trends, or legislation impacting them – but what exactly is effective media intelligence? 

With all of the information published each second, an effective monitoring service goes far beyond “Your company was mentioned here, here, and here, and there were some positive adjectives in the story so the whole story must be positive.” It isn’t about superficial analysis and it doesn’t create more work for recipients. 

Effective monitoring weeds out irrelevant information and ensures that there is a real value-add to everything sent along to a recipient. It goes beyond looking at what adjectives are used to see authors’ overarching message and tonality and provides analysis on whether a recipient’s message is breaking through. It isn’t about flashy graphics. Rather, it is about accurate data that has meaning and paints a realistic picture. Finally, it makes recipients’ lives easier.

The most common monitoring tools don’t meet this threshold. More often than not, these tools fall into a trap where breadth of coverage and depth of analysis are juxtaposed and one suffers as the tool focuses on the other. Either the tool catches all mentions and provides a surface-level analysis that often doesn’t reflect the issue’s complexities, or it drills down on certain areas and entirely misses others leaving companies prone to blindsiding and financial consequences. In either of these cases, companies are still forced to expend resources on media monitoring that could be used elsewhere, creating inefficiencies elsewhere or in responding to the very issues they’re monitoring for. It’s like having to drive with one hand while using a hand mirror to watch for hazards. 

We founded CMG with the purpose of rectifying these common practices that have become accepted as industry standard, bucking the trend to provide a more effective service that emphasizes a mix of technology and human analysis. Our analysts engage with the immense amounts of data published on a given topic and instead of curating collections of news clips full of repeats, questionable sources, or irrelevant information; we read each story to assess its value and relevance before alerting client teams in real time or aggregate. We’ve designed our systems to remove any guess work or filtering that client teams would need to do with other tools and with the necessary flexibility to help client teams react more efficiently. What’s more, our team works as an extension of our clients’ teams, readily available at all times and focused on making sure our monitoring and analysis regimens are providing exactly what’s needed.

Skeptical? Come give us a test drive and see the difference for yourself.  

~ Will