Teri Douglas is Account Director – SA / NT with Isentia, formerly known as Media Monitors. Her role is to “connect clients with media intelligence tools, content strategy and measurement solutions, driven by a combination of machine learning and human insight, so they can make informed marcomm decisions that have an impact on business results”.
Are you able to describe the Isentia client base? Eg, is it mainly PR agencies, or government agencies, private corporations or a mix? Isentia is an ASX listed company with over 5,000 clients across 19 countries, including many of the world’s leading brands, companies and governments. We work with a range of clients, from not for profits through to government, small to medium businesses, through to across-region enterprises.
Over the years, what sort of changes have you seen from clients in terms of their media monitoring requirements? Media monitoring used to be a linear dialogue around what happened yesterday; ‘Tell me what was said in the paper or on the radio’. It was a story-telling device that reported on outputs. Now the sector is very much about intelligence services, where we analyse content, how it intersects across media channels and work to understand outcomes and their impact on stakeholder and consumer behaviour.
We’ve come a long way from the days of scissors, glue and cassette tapes. Every day we mine and analyse millions of pieces of data to deliver an understanding of the vector and velocity of issues so media and comms professionals have the insight they need to leverage the news cycle to benefit their strategy.
Every day we mine and analyse millions of pieces of data to
deliver an understanding of the vector and velocity of issues
Without data you’re just another person with an opinion (W. Edwards Deming) but in the digital age you need to make sense of an overwhelming wealth of data trails. We help businesses map their way through this maze, test assumptions, discover new ways to connect their business with the stories their target audience want to consume, provide them with the information they need to manage message performance, and ultimately help them stay ahead of the competition.
It’s all about the science of story resonance and finding the signal amongst the noise.
We use cloud-based, software-as-a-service solutions, along with services such as media influencer databases, social media content consultancy and media insight reports, to help our clients make decisions based on fact.
Are there any lesser-known Isentia services which many clients overlook? Mediaportal is well known as our flagship Software as a Service product in the media tracking space but we also leverage our data to provide value added services such as employee advocacy tools, strategic content marketing, qualitative analysis and social media training.
Can you tell us a bit about your time with Media Monitors in Hong Kong? What were the challenges of that role?
My appointment to Hong Kong coincided with the worst of the GFC and it was just 10 years since the British handover, so a period of both business and political uncertainty. Expats, particularly in the financial sector, were being recalled to London and New York with just weeks’ notice despite having lived seven, 10, 12 years in the Territory. There was a designer pet crisis at SPCA shelters as bankers were forced to abandon their animals without adequate time to make alternative arrangements. I was once told by a media veteran of Hong Kong that the health of the city’s economy could be judged by the level of activity on the harbour. For the first six months of my time in HK, boats languished in dock and the Shenzen haze, usually fuelled by factory activity across the border, was replaced by a collective fog of anxiety.
I spent the first month in the office without a desk or chair, working from a laptop on the floor with wires hanging from the roof. It was a greenfields operation with a seemingly never-ending list of operational and business development challenges. From being in South Australia and working with arguably one of the most experienced media intelligence teams in the country, I was now part of a team that was starting from scratch in a market with zero brand equity and little knowledge of the solutions we had to offer.
But Isentia is a great company, where in challenging times it pulls together as one team. I was fortunate to have the support and mentorship of the CEO, GM of Operations for Asia and a local advisor. I leaned heavily on their experience, while at the same time encouraged new employees to challenge the way I thought things should be done. I studied part time at Hong Kong University to gain insight into the media industry and consumed everything I could on Hong Kong media and politics.
Entering a new market is like a media comms campaign – research, create, act, evaluate, adjust. As a challenger brand, we had to be entrepreneurial and find creative ways to make things work.
Personally, I had to put my introverted tendencies to the side to network, network, network. Business relationships in Hong Kong are very personal so you need to be present in the room.
I spent the first month in the office without a desk or chair, working from
a laptop on the floor with wires hanging from the roof.
I learnt to always look up for wobbly air-conditioners during typhoon season. I learnt to hand over business cards with two hands. I learnt where all the best places were for chilli dumplings.
You probably keep abreast of what’s happening in the media industry. Do you have any thoughts on the future of newsrooms currently struggling with readership and profits? That’s a big question so I’m going to back away slowly and answer from a media intelligence perspective. We know audiences are changing with empowered consumers, low cost to change and access on the go. Society is hyper-connected, increasingly borderless and tech savvy. New business models, disruptive entrants and algorithmic marketing have been enabled by advances in technology – social, mobile and the cloud. The question is not whether you keep pace but whether you can leapfrog and help steer the course of conversations. Our response has been to evolve our infrastructure from business and media intelligence to predictive analysis through the use of natural language techniques that look for patterns and clusters in media coverage to create linked stories. We’re engaging in multi-data point integration that allows you to predict patterns in story behaviour to improve understanding of media coverage and provide the insight required to minimise risk and create strategies that maximise opportunities.
We know audiences are changing with empowered consumers,
low cost to change and access on the go.
When Isentia is recruiting, what type of qualities and skills does it look for in a potential employee?The Isentia team is made up of a diverse group of people from different disciplines, locations and time zones. Like most media entities, it’s an ever-changing industry faced with disruption so you need to be both enterprising and resilient. Not everything’s easy, and it’s certainly not straight forward, but on the whole we’re okay with that because our people love a challenge. We believe skills can be taught so we tend to hire for attitude.
Time for a fun question: What do you like to do, to switch off from the 24/7 news cycle?
Switching off is always a challenge as I engage in the media across my working and personal life. As a mum of two pre-teens, however, I am trying to lead by example and be more disciplined with my screen time. Maintaining an online presence is a pale substitute for being present. When cooking, I try to resist browsers and reach instead for the family recipe book. I delight in unearthing op-shop treasures over online purchases and have sincere intentions, albeit a dodgy history of execution, towards growing more than weeds in my garden. Most weekday mornings I can be found at Xtend Barre and I practice yoga. When I need to completely digitally detox, there’s the wifi-free family shack on Yorke Peninsula that is stocked with a ridiculously large 1980s VCR collection, an unhealthy number of trashy sci-fi novels and good red wine.