FAQ


PR Frequently Asked Questions


Advertising Frequently Asked Questions

How much do you record?
What else does VMS monitor?
How far back does your database go?
How will I know when a new ad breaks?
Can I automatically get all of my competitors' new ads?
What are your digital capabilities?
Can I access VMS data online?
Can I rebroadcast or edit the ads I receive from VMS?
How do I become a VMS client?



Q: How much do you record?

A: VMS tapes every day in nearly 100 cities across the United States and Canada and can record in any other city upon request. We monitor network, cable, local and syndicated programs every day in order to keep our commercial library up-to-date. We also record radio in over 25 of the top markets in the US and record and monitor Spanish language TV and radio in select markets.

Back to top


Q: What else does VMS monitor?

A: VMS retrieves and libraries print advertising from over 700 consumer magazines, trade magazines, and newspapers, and through our affiliation with Burrelle'sLuce, we can pull ads from over 17,000 publications. We also provide Internet banner ads from over 6,000 online publications, 2,000 unique online publications, and out-of-home ads from several markets.

Back to top


Q: How far back does your database go?

A: VMS's TV ad library dates back to the early 1960's. Radio ads go back to 1984. Print ads date back to the 1890ís. Out-of-home ads date back to 1995. Internet banners date back to 1999. VMS' global advertising database is the largest in the world containing over 3 million television, radio, print, outdoor and Internet ads and provides a vital resource for staying up-to-date on the latest creative efforts of its customers' competitors.

Back to top


Q: How will I know when a new ad breaks?

A: Register your competitors with us and we'll start watching for their new ads immediately. When a new ad is seen that matches your criteria, your Account Service Representative will call you with the information. At that point, you can order the ad.

Back to top


Q: Can I automatically get all of my competitors' new ads?

A: Yes. It's called our Standing Order service and you can save money by using it. Let us help you clearly define what you want to see. Do you want only new ads...no revisions? Perhaps you only want new ads in certain markets. You are completely in control of the criteria set up to flag new ads in a standing order. As soon as a new ad is found by our system, an automatic order will be generated ensuring that the ad will arrive on your desk promptly.

Back to top


Q: What are your digital capabilities?

A: All ads retrieved and archived by VMS are immediately digitized, making it easy for us to deliver ads to you digitally in whatever format you need. And we offer a broad array of online services which let you access your digital media whenever and however you want to.

Back to top


Q: Can I access VMS data online?

A: Yes. AdSearch gives you 24/7 access to search through over 1,000,000 ads from our database, including over 500,000 pieces of digital media across all five media types; You can set up an AdSite account which will store and organize all of the ads you purchase from VMS; PrintPlus offers creative, occurrence and spending information from over 18,000 publications.

Back to top


Q: Can I rebroadcast or edit the ads I receive from VMS?

A: No. Advertisements captured by VMS may be used for internal research, analysis or review only.

Back to top


Q: How do I become a VMS client?

A: Simply call the VMS office that serves your city and ask to speak with an Account Service Representative. They will be happy to set up an account and begin tracking for you. Contact your regional VMS Ad Services office now for more information. You can also always call 1-800-VMS-2002.

Back to top


PR Services Frequently Asked Questions


What is monitoring?
Why do people use a monitoring service?
What kind of media do you monitor?
How broad is your coverage?
How are monitoring summaries created? How Quickly are they created?
Is human monitoring more accurate than closed caption?
Which monitoring method is faster, human monitoring or closed caption?
How do I get notified when there is a hit of interest to me?
Just what is a client profile and how can I create one?
What are the 10 most important questions I should ask a monitoring company?
How does VMS answer these 10 questions?
Can you provide monitoring of Hispanic stations?
When can I expect daily delivery of my monitoring reports?
Can I get a digital or electronic version of a segment that was broadcast?
What is the best way to archive my monitoring reports and/or news segments?
How do I know which VMS office to contact for my needs?
How can we contact you about a crisis situation at night or on weekends?
I need radio coverage that you don't seem to monitor. What can I do?
I need to SEE what aired within minutes after it airs. Is that possible?
Why do you record and monitor so much?
Can I show the segments I buy from VMS on my website or other public places?

Q: What is monitoring?

A: Broadcast monitoring is the process of searching radio and TV news and public affairs broadcasts for any subject or term that a client wants to track. Once a search term is found, the client is notified that news item aired, and is provided with an opportunity to see or hear the news item either as a video or audio, or read the text of the news item as a custom prepared verbatim transcript. The term media monitoring relates to a service that our affiliate Burrelle'sLuce has been providing since 1888. When the business began, the only media they monitored was the New York City daily newspapers. Now, through the resources of VMS, they monitor all forms of media throughout the United States, Canada and Latin America and many foreign countries.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: Why do people use a monitoring service?

A: There are many different specific reasons why people choose to use a monitoring service. Basically, it all comes down to the need for information. Many PR professionals keep track of the news that their public relations efforts have generated. Corporations often monitor the news to gain information about how their company, products or services are being presented in the media. Many use monitoring services for competitive intelligence purposes or to keep track of public trends. Another important reason is to keep track of news coverage during a crisis, in order to gauge how the media are reporting on the crisis.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: What kind of media do you monitor?

A: VMS specializes in the broadcast media. Network television and radio such as ABC or NPR; Cable Networks like CNN; Nationally syndicated programs, for example, Entertainment Tonight; And newscasts prepared by local TV and radio stations throughout the country. We also maintain relationships with many foreign monitoring companies, and thus can provide clients with international States daily and non-daily newspapers, trade and consumer magazines. They also monitor the wire services the Internet, for electronic UseNets and bulletin boards. Foreign coverage includes publications from many different countries.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: How broad is your coverage?

A: We routinely record television and radio newscasts from 48 networks, 55 nationally syndicated programs and 536 local stations in 110 markets throughout the US. That's more than 65,000 broadcast hours of news each month. From these recordings we compile approximately 2 million broadcast news summaries monthly.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: How are monitoring summaries created? How quickly are they created?

A: For Network and in the top 50 markets (as ranked by Nielsen Media Research) we actually have 2 methods. First there are human editors that actually play back the off-air recordings within 2 hours after the broadcast and create a summary of each news story. These summaries contain all the key names and places mentioned in the story, identify all significant visuals and include text designed to reveal the essence of the story. We also capture the Closed Caption Text that is fed by the networks and stations. The Captioning arrives at VMS approximately 12 minutes after the words are spoken on the air. The closed caption text is displayed to provide a brief view of "Keyword in Context", and is limited to a maximum of 15 lines. These diverse methodologies complement each other and provide the most accurate monitoring in the shortest possible time.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: Is human monitoring more accurate than closed caption?

A: The short answer is yes. In a study done about a year ago, the two monitoring methods were compared to see which found more hits on an array of control subjects. What was found is that taken alone, human monitoring captures more than 80% of the hits, while closed caption monitoring captured only about 65%. However, when the two methods were used together, as VMS does, where one failed the other excelled with the result that nothing was missed.
There are two major reasons why human monitoring is more accurate. First, it captures the visual references that are so important to the PR industry. Often, the background for a negative story was a client's logo or store front, but the client was not mentioned verbally. Those references are not picked up at all by closed caption monitoring. The second reason is that closed caption monitoring is subject to a fairly high rate of technical failure. Characters are often garbled making words unintelligible, and the transcribers the stations use for creating the closed caption text make many spelling errors. Since searching for stories in these gigantic databases are based on key word searching, such errors cause entire stories to be missed.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: How do I get notified when there is a hit of interest to me?

A: Clients are notified by phone about the most important hits. Most clients also subscribe to one of a variety of "Monitoring Reports" that we produce. These reports contain a compilation of summaries or cc keyword-in-context for all the hits that have met the clients profile. The unique thing about these reports, and the thing that sets VMS apart from all its competitors, is that after a machine search against the VMS monitoring and cc database is completed, a human editor goes through each story, one-by-one to eliminate any stories that do not meet the client's profile and correct any spelling or other errors that are found in the closed caption keyword in context entries. The benefit to our customers is that they get a client-ready report from us that doesn't waste their time.

Q: Which monitoring method is faster, human monitoring or closed caption?

A: Since data from closed captioning requires no human intervention, it gets into the VMS search system faster. Then, when the human monitoring is completed (VMS normal deadline is within 2 hours after the newscast has ended) that monitoring goes into the system as well. Thus, VMS clients gain both the speed of closed caption monitoring with the accuracy of human monitoring. We do both methods in more markets (nearly three times as many) than any other monitoring service can offer.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: How do I get notified when there is a hit of interest to me?

A: Clients are notified by phone about the most important hits. Most clients also subscribe to one of a variety of "Monitoring Reports" that we produce. These reports contain a compilation of summaries or cc keyword-in-context for all the hits that have met the clients profile. The unique thing about these reports, and the thing that sets VMS apart from all its competitors, is that after a machine search against the VMS monitoring and cc database is completed, a human editor goes through each story, one-by-one to eliminate any stories that do not meet the client's profile and correct any spelling or other errors that are found in the closed caption keyword in context entries. The benefit to our customers is that they get a client-ready report from us that doesn't waste their time.
Reports are sent on any frequency wanted by the client...from multiple reports per day (frequently used when a client is in crisis) to once a day, week or month.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: What is a client profile, and how can I create one?

A: A client profile is the set of instructions that tells our computers and human report editors how to search our database of news stories to find those in which the client will have an interest. The profile can consist of an unlimited number of keywords [such as a company or product name or spokes person; Modifiers (usually tying the keyword(s) to a specific use, for example [include only stories about waste disposal] and exclusions [no stock stories, or no readers only]. Then for each profile there is a specific list of stations, programs, networks etc to search. The standard is all, but the profile can be limited in its search scope in any way the client desires. A well-written profile assures that clients get what they want, and only what they want, so a lot of care is taken in setting them up. And, they can be changed as often as business needs dictate.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: What are the 10 most important questions I should ask a monitoring company?

1. Do you do your own work or do you depend on other companies to do it for you? (Only monitoring companies that do all their own recording and monitoring can guarantee consistent service and quality)

2. Do you use an editorial staff to monitor all programs? (Only monitoring companies employing this type of monitoring can guarantee that important visuals will be reported.)

3. Do you use closed caption monitoring? (Companies using closed caption to monitor excel in capturing stories with casual keyword mentions)

4. Do you edit your closed caption text before it is sent to your clients? (Correcting spelling and other errors that frequently occur in closed captioning is a must to save clients time and money)

5. If you can provide audience numbers and/or media values, what is your source? (PRTrak a research company has become the defacto standard of the industry for this kind of information. They integrate Nielsen and Arbitron audience data for both local and network with cost per thousand data produced by SQAD, the premier service of its kind in the advertising industry and update their data 4 times each year.

6. When I order a tape, how will the charges be based? (You should be charged a single charge for each "Program" hit, and that tape should include teasers of the story as well. In this way, there are no hidden charges. The only variable should be the total running time of all segments in a program.)

7. Can you provide my TV or radio hit in some digital format? If so, which one(s). (There are many different formats available, make sure what is offered is what you can play on your computer, or playback device. Particular caution should be taken with the DVD format. There are inexpensive DVD burners used by some monitors that produce a format that will not play on most home DVD players...though they will play on DVD drives in PCs. The only way to assure that your monitor has the type of equipment that will produce a digital file you can play is to ask for a sample. That request will also allow you to evaluate the ease of the ordering process.)

8. How quickly can you get a tape to me? (Monitors should be able to ship a tape same day in all but the most unusual circumstances. Even if your order comes in late in the day, they should still be able to have it ready for shipping or messenger pickup. And, in those instances where such delivery is logistically impossible, they should be able to offer digital options which would minimize or overcome any delay.)

9. Can you prepare a verbatim transcript of my broadcast hit? (A verbatim transcript is one that is custom made for you by a transcriber who plays back the segment and types up exactly what was said, with speaker identification and visuals noted. The transcript should require no clean-up by the user, and should be in a professional format so it can be readily passed on to others in your organization without any work on your part. Beware of the closed caption transcript. It is often not verbatim, it can rarely be sent on to others without significant editing to remove garbled text and correct misspelled words.)

10. How long has your company been in the monitoring business? (Like anything else, experience counts.)

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: How does VMS answer these questions?

1. Do you do your own work or do you depend on other companies to do it for you? VMS does all it's own recording and monitoring. We only depend on others in the rare instances where we have a technical failure.

2. Do you use humans to monitor all programs? For all major networks, and the top 50 markets, VMS has a unique system that records the market and utilizing the internet, sends those recordings to a central location where the monitoring is conducted. Monitors are usually working only a few minutes beyond air time to do their jobs.

3. Do you use closed caption monitoring? We use closed captioning to supplement our human monitoring on networks and in the top 50 markets. In all other markets, it is used as our primary source.

4. Do you edit your closed caption text before it is sent to your clients? Yes. VMS edits every closed caption hit on any report sent to a client to make it visually pleasing, correct spelling errors and remove garbled text.

5. If you can provide audience numbers and/or media values, what is your source? VMS subscribes directly to Nielsen Media Research, The Arbitron Company, and SQAD for these data and uses PRTrak to do the data integration. In this way, we assure that our data meets the most stringent industry standards for accuracy.

6. When I order a tape, how will the charges be based? VMS charges for segments that run within a program's hour. That means no matter how many segments there are, including teasers, you will only be charged for the total running time of all segments in the program. It's all edited together on a single tape with no hidden edit or additional hit charges.

7. Can you provide my TV or radio hit in some digital format? VMS can provide your segment in all of the popular digital file and streaming digital formats. They can be, at the client's option, either downloaded for storage on your computer, or streamed across the internet.

8. How quickly can you get a tape to me? Within VMS the only question is how quickly do you need it? That's what drives delivery. It could be as quickly as an hour if that is what's required.

9. Can you prepare a verbatim transcript of my broadcast hit? Yes. each VMS transcript is custom made. We never use raw or even edited closed caption text to create transcripts.

10. How long has your company been in the monitoring business? VMS was founded in 1980.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: Can you provide monitoring of Hispanic stations?

A: VMS monitors Univision and Telemundo in several of the country's top markets so we report not only network coverage, but the local coverage as well. Monitoring Reports, tapes, transcripts and digital products are all available.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: When can I expect daily delivery of my monitoring reports?

A: The VMS report editing department is a 24 hour a day operation. Thus, most monitoring reports will be delivered in the early morning hours. Most clients prefer to have the reports waiting for them when they come to work. No problem there, we're already at work.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: Can I get a digital or electronic version of a segment that was broadcast?

A: VMS has digital options to meet every customer's needs. Whether you are looking for a streaming video that you can play from our server or yours, or a high quality file that you can download from our computer or get on a CD-ROM, or even a DVD. It doesn't matter what type of computer you have, or what operating system you use. We can produce digital files in virtually every available format.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: What is the best way to archive my monitoring reports and/or news segments?

A: VMS and its affiliate BurrellesLuce have joined together to create a web-based tool that not only allows you to archive all your monitoring reports and video, but, if you choose, all your BurrellesLuce press and Internet clippings as well. Far more than just a repository, InSight allows you to search all your data, organize it just the way YOU want it, analyze it, produce ClipBooks, charts, graphs and reports.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: How do I know which VMS office to contact for my needs?

A: You can either check office locator on our Contact page, or just call the office that seems most geographically suited to your needs. No matter what VMS office you call, you will be greeted by a trained professional that will take care of your immediate needs, and make sure that the office that can serve you best is brought into the loop so they can take care of you in the future. In short, we don't want to make it your problem call any office and we'll take it from there.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: How can we contact you about a crisis situation at night or on weekends?

Several VMS offices are staffed 24/ 7. So just call, any hour of the day. If the office you are calling does not happen to be one of those that are staffed in this way, a recording will instruct you on either how to leave a page for Crisis contact, or provide a referral number to an office with staff. That way, VMS will remove the monitoring burden from you immediately, and let you get on with doing what you do best...being professional PR counselors.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: I need radio coverage that you don't seem to monitor. What can I do?

A: The unfortunate fact about radio monitoring is that is the most expensive type of broadcast monitoring there is. Yet, most clients simply don't value it as highly as they do the monitoring of TV. For this reason Radio monitoring is quite limited. That doesn't mean you can't get what you need. VMS has many resources that we can call upon to find radio coverage we do not have ourselves. One of our strengths is knowing where to go when the tape doesn't seem to exist. We may not get what we want 100% of the time, but on the whole, our track record is the best in the industry.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: I need to SEE what aired within minutes after it airs. Is that possible?

A: VMS QuickView service provides near-real-time video retrieval from all major TV and cable networks and every significant station in the top 50 markets. That's well over 300 broadcast outlets. While particularly effective in crisis situations, VMS QuickView is also a cost-effective way to preview any news segments on a VMS Monitoring Report to assure that it is what you really want before you order a tape.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: Why do you record and monitor so much?

A: Broadcast is the most perishable medium there is. You can obtain a copy of an article from the print media very quickly and with relative ease. Broadcast, on the other hand is far more elusive. Some broadcasters will provide you with copies of news segments, many will not. None will provide them the same day and none will notify you when you are mentioned in the news. We know from experience that VMS clients are interested in less than 1/2 of 1% of the news that airs. The problem is that they rarely know in advance which stories will interest them. So we have to record and monitor an enormous amount in order to be sure to capture the things clients really care about.

Back to PR Index

Back to top


Q: Can I show the segments I get from VMS on my website or in other public places?

A: No, News segments produced by VMS may be used for internal research and review purposes only. Any editing, reproduction, re-broadcasting or public display such as on a web site is strictly prohibited and may violate copyright law. VMS customers are encouraged to seek their own legal counsel on matters of copyright.

Back to PR Index

Back to top