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Media and Marketing Toolbox

By The Drum, Administrator

February 15, 2002 | 18 min read

Our reviewers: Top (l-r) Feather Brooksbank's Andy Jones, Media House International's Jack Irvine, Market Research UK's Jim Law, Dijitol's John Campbell and Mediaforce's Simon Ridley-Thomas Bottom row (l-R) McCallum Media Monitor's Fiona Shearer

The days of having reams of paper and box files piled mile-high on your desk and a wastepaper basket overflowing with discarded media schedules may not have gone just yet, but as the internet continues to grow at a rate of knots, then the paperless office may not be far off.

In media, marketing and creative circles the number of resources now available online is increasing all the time. Every time a new website is launched it becomes a source of leads for advertising agencies and sales teams as well as an additional source of inspiration for those toiling away down in the creative department.

Therefore, to get a handle on which online resources are currently 'The Most Wanted' The Drum polled some of the leading names in the Scottish media and marketing industry.

Our panel included Steven Walker, managing director of The Scotsman Publications, Simon Ridley-Thomas, director of Mediaforce, Jack Irvine, chairman of Media House International, Fiona Shearer, marketing executive of McCallum Media Monitor, Andy Jones, managing director of Feather Brooksbank, John Campbell, new media director at Dijitol, Marco Scognamiglio of WWAV Rapp Collins and the creative team at BD-TANK headed by Stuart Gilmour.

It comes as little surprise that the site most listed within their top five was a search engine, Google.com. Ironically, the reason most quoted was that it didn't carry advertising which cluttered the site.

Second was mediaguardian.co.uk, due to its daily e-mail bulletins and frequent updates throughout the day. Only two of the Ten Most Wanted originate from Scotland, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Enterprise sites. Also a surprise was that Reuters was the top-rated news resource, primarily for its Business Briefing.

Surprisingly, those in the above-the-line advertising sector professed not to be particularly over-reliant on any websites.

We asked our panel to review their Most Wanted Sites and we have also thrown in a few we thought everyone should have bookmarked.

The Ten Most Wanted

1. Google.com

2. Mediaguardian.co.uk

3. Mediatel.co.uk

4. Reuters.co.uk

5. BBC.co.uk/news

6. Scotland.gov.uk

7. abc.co.uk

8. FT.com

9. Scottish-enterprise.com

10. Statistics.gov.uk

http://www.abc.org.uk

This site really sorts the men from the boys - the Audit Bureau of Circulation webite. You can find the latest ABC and VFD figures here the instant that they are released to the industry. It is also very useful to be able to see those circulations broken down into full price sold copies and 'others'. SR-T.

http://www.adcritic.com

This was a great place to see US ads and all the commercials that are referred to in the marketing press, or not aired in Scotland or the UK. You could see which was the most watched commercial on this site. John West Salmon's 'Bear' was number one for weeks. The site was a bit cluttered, but worth the wade. Unfortunately, it's gone offline now. They've posted a message saying they grew too quickly...ran out of money...the usual story? MS.

http://www.alistapart.com

This weekly magazine about new media issues has a refreshingly no-nonsense approach to web design. It's targeted at anyone involved in developing web sites, from the information manager to graphic designer. The down-to-earth feel of this site reminds the reader about the perspective and place new media has in business and indeed society today.

The articles are usually very personal, and by the editor's own admittance are 'therefore imperfect', but I think that's what makes this site a real gem. What is even better is that you don't have to trawl through pages of sales talk to find content of any value. FS.

http://www.amazon.co.uk

This is a great site for shopaholics who can't always nip out of the office to the shops to get what they need. The great thing about Amazon is that they do exactly what they say they can. The selection is astounding, the prices are good and their delivery times are always accurate. Their customer service is very effective and they are very good at keeping you up to date with their product range and site developments. SW.

http://www.bbc.co.uk

For someone who needs to know the full facts of the day's news - having only picked up snippets on the drive into work, constantly swapping between Radio 4's Today and Good Morning Scotland, BBC News Online is a must. There is a vast amount of information to trawl through, which is broken down into easily digestible bites by region and topic. To keep on top of breaking news there is an option to have news sent direct by e-mail to your inbox, so you can quickly respond to events throughout the world. Another useful function is the search facility, which allows you to source all coverage which has appeared over a specific timeframe and gauge media and public opinion to certain topics or companies. JB.

http://www.echoecho.com

This site is great for checking search engine rankings, different screen size alignments and to validate your pages. It's one-stop free help site for all things web related including forums, articles, tutorials, online tools, free resources, references and surfer stats. It is a large site. but things are easy to find. It is aimed at the techie, but it is good for the layman too. JC.

http://www.ft.com

This site probably goes without saying. For real up-to-date share prices and company news, this is an excellent site. It has an extensive archive and is great for getting hold of company reports and to gain background on events of the business world. SW.

http://www.google.com

At last a site/search engine which does what you want it to do, just good old plain searching with no advertising to clutter it up. It does what I ask it to very quickly, it's bright, and comprehensive and, since they don't carry any ads, there are no annoying banners to distract me. It's simple information finding, if perhaps a little too plain looking. MS.

http://www.theherald.co.uk

I bookmark the Herald website for a quick reference to Scotland's leading news stories - very useful for a quick glance in the morning. The site layout is very simple so business or sports news stories are easy to find. A useful feature is the online archive which enables you to search the Herald's extensive database. Interestingly 30 per cent of the online Herald's readers are ex-pats. The site is looking a bit dated and could do with an overhaul to bring it in line with the breed of newspaper sites such as telegraph.co.uk. AJ.

http://www.jiab.jicreg.co.uk

This site is the venerable bible for regional newspaper readership information. The information is available to non-subscribers. However, it does need to be used with some caution as some of the figures can be questioned with regard to their validity. It should not be used as the main planning tool. It does also give more detailed information on mapping and combined scheduling. www.upmystreet is another variation on yell.com which provides local information on towns and neighbourhoods. SR-T.

http://www.macromedia.com

The Macromedia site is currently in a transition phase. It has a clean, updated look. It would be too easy to go into overkill mode with Flash and Shockwave. There are links to sites where flash has been used well. What is shown looks good, no cheesy animations as before. Navigationally the Home Page panel is a pleasure to use. The standard menu bar is clean and easy to follow and takes you to a well-laid-out contents section. I especially like the Forums link, as one of my main reasons for visiting the Macromedia site is usually to find out how to do something. It is a good opportunity to learn from those who are willing to share their knowledge. BD-TANK.

http://www.mediaguardian.co.uk

An obvious one, and I probably don't have to expand on how valuable it is. The Guardian's on-line product is much easier to use for me, as being involved in press cuttings means that I hardly ever see a whole paper! Separate sections for new media and PR and marketing are interesting and entertaining. The Media Guardian briefing is a great way to get a quick scan of the day's news and then, working in a media monitoring office, I have the luxury of having the whole article at my fingertips. FS.

http://www.mediatel.co.uk

Mediatel is a very good provider of online media intelligence to the majority of the UK's leading companies. The site provides information and data on all media types. Another good facility on the site is the downloadable maps for selected areas and media catchments. There is also a gateway to other media web sites. SR-T.

http://www.mrs.org.uk

I use this site to get clarification on the Market Research Society Code of Conduct and the Data Protection Act. It also has information on the training of research employees as well as Market Research Society events. It is the kind of site which you go to the relevant information rather than browse, but the clear menus allow for straightforward searches. That said, a free text search would further speed up the search. JL.

http://www.nypost.com

http://www.wsj.com

With an office in New York, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal are essential for me to keep abreast of what's going on both from a tabloid and a broadsheet perspective. Funnily enough, the blue-collar New York Post often breaks business stories ahead of the Wall Street Journal, but the real reason I read it is to find out what is going on in City Hall and Broadway. NY Post and WSJ are all easily navigable or I wouldn't use them. One complaint is that they are a bit pricey. I'm going to try Lexus Nexus, which is not only cheaper, but offers more facilities. One last note. I am finding I am reading Scottish and UK newspaper web sites more and more when I'm in the USA, but one site that beats them all is BBC News Online. My experience makes me wonder why anybody would buy newspapers in the future. JI

http://www.pearlanddean.com

Cinema data is notoriously fickle (film release dates, box office data etc.) and so much changes daily that any kind of print matter has the shelf life of a prawn sandwich. The web is the answer to all our prayers and as so much of the film news comes from the US we get much faster access. When you host your own site you quickly learn to keep the content relevant, simple and uncluttered, provide clear and easy navigation, avoid tedious passworded entries and above all keep it fresh. PSH.

http://www.photonica.com

Photonica's picture library has a lot more thought put into it than its competitors'. A design-led site that fulfils its purpose. The gallery section is an example of the designers 'going the extra mile', creating intriguing ways of viewing photographers' work. Flash animations that load quickly allow stress-free surfing. It has all the basics that an image search site needs. Easy to use search categories make narrowing the search quick and efficient. BD-TANK.

http://www.php.net

This is an excellent free resource for developing and building dynamic database driven websites. It has excellent navigation and user friendly screen layout to help you find all the information you need. JC.

http://www.press-cuttings.com

This is McCallum Media Monitor's web-site. We are presently working on a Scottish press directory which will be online with our site. This second phase of the site is due to be launched soon. The directory is aimed at PR and marketing professionals who are planning and implementing their campaigns. Each publication will have its own section with editorial and advertising contact details and information on regular features and news stories. The site will be searchable both by region and/or subject, so if you want to know which papers cover fishing in Aberdeen for the new rod you are about to take to market, then this is your site! FS.

http://www.rab.co.uk

I'd describe the Radio Advertising Bureau's site as 'fit for its purpose', which is to encourage the effective use of the radio industry. Its simple layout helps the visitor with media planning, stations and programming. The site could probably do with more audio and the graphics of the Hall of Fame awards were quite different from the rest of the site, which I found inconsistent. But it's a great site for finding out who owns who in radio and who sells who. A quick download and simple functions make it an easy site to get what you need. Quickly. RM.

http://www.rac.co.uk/paln-route

As a market research company we use this website a lot to plan journeys throughout the UK. It gives accurate information on the fastest and shortest routes from the office to the final destination of our qualitative research executives. It also allows you to check for traffic congestion and it has an excellent accommodation section. The free text facility allows searches to be tailored to the specific needs of the journey. However, the search engine can sometimes be inconsistent and the home page is pretty cluttered. JL.

http://www.reuters.co.uk

Reuters Business Briefing is one of the most frequently used sites in our office. It is very versatile and can be used for a wide variety of things, from sourcing past media coverage to providing comprehensive company background information in no less than ten different languages. You can choose from a variety of options and radio coverage from 1980, tracking any newswire around the world and keeping on top of financial and trading positions of various companies. Every search can be saved and printed out, allowing it to be read later, saving valuable time and money. JB.

http://www.serchenginewatch.com

This site is another no-nonsense, straightforward approach to advising web developers and marketers on search engine registration and submission techniques. Advice covers using meta tags, content help and also how to think of the web from a searcher's point of view. Again, doesn't use jargon and is an easy-to-use reference guide for the sometimes confusing world of web marketing. FS.

http://www.scotsman.com

You would expect me to say this, but this is the first site I log on to every day. It has just been upgraded and is now bigger and faster than ever. As a portal it is superb at keeping up to date with all the current issues as well as supplying all of the Scotsman Publications' newspapers, live and archive versions. It is more than an online newspaper. It has over a dozen channels giving insight into everything from news to arts and entertainments, from careers to the great outdoors. It can also deliver tailor-made online news, giving you the news you are interested in. SW.

http://www.scottish-enterprise.com

We use this site for background information for research proposals and comparative data to inform reports. It provides information on the structure of the SE Network and details of Local Enterprise Companies, maps of boundaries and a useful search facility. The site is very functional, but not too dynamic. It is easy to navigate around, but the menu bar disappears when you scroll to the bottom of the page so you have to scroll back to the top to view it - it could do with a refresh button. JL.

http://www.scotland.gov.uk

The Scottish Executive's web site is a good point of reference for public affairs or public relations officers in Scotland. It has a handy e-mail subscription section on its home page which updates subscribers on recent initiatives, ongoing campaigns and announcements - always good if you're working in the public or voluntary sector. Its detailed content on governmental matters is really useful and the site also features a good archive section. However, the site is not without its problems. Its home page is too long and it could be more interesting. JB.

http://www.sourcewire.com

Catering for both journalists and public relations professionals, the Sourcewire web site is the ultimate resource for anyone working in the IT sector. FeaturesExec is Sourcewire's features tracking service, dramatically cutting the time spent researching forward features. Features can be saved online under your personal profile, allowing easy access to the entire team. IT journalists are able to e-mail subscribing public relations professionals their editorial requests. The web site also has a directory of over 500 hi-tech freelancers and any press releases can be distributed to subscribing journalists. There is a subscription cost. JB.

http://www.statistics.gov.uk

To reinforce the sales message for regional and local press, HM Government statistics web site is vital for finding information on regional spends, current trends as well as social and economic statistics. SR-T

http://www.tonystone.com

The Stone picture library web site has saved my bacon on many a late-night presentation workout session. The site looks clean, is clearly organised and extremely functional. The grey and white colours allow the photography to do the talking. The primary function of the site is picture search and the results are comprehensive and always of great quality. However, the downside is that it can take an eternity to browse through the search results. On the technical layout and navigational fronts the website does the job well enough. BD-TANK.

http://www.yearahead.co.uk

The Year Ahead 2002 is a complete calendar of more than 5,000 events throughout the year. It provides the user with detailed information including a brief description of each event, the contact details for the organiser, where it takes place and so on. As well as events such as trade shows, exhibitions and conferences, you can also search for awareness campaigns such as National No Smoking Day, National Aids Day etc. It's a really good starting point when preparing a calendar of events and sourcing PR opportunities and it is very comprehensive. JB.

http://www.yell.com

A good site is Yellow Pages (USA and UK). It is good for finding those retail addresses and those of their competitors. It is also good for mapping and drive times. SR-T.

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