Trends Analysis at National Geographic

This talk is a scaled-down version of a pre-conference workshop (4 hours) that National Geographic Society (NGS) librarians give at SLA annual conference. Presenting today are Barbara Ferry and Maggie Turqman. Trends analysis is about the competition, it’s not about you. First, identify the issues that affect your organization. The trends affecting NGS include technology, economics, social, market, demographics, retiring workforce, and first mover advantage. Some of these are good, some bad. Retirees have more time to read National Geographic, but NGS has been slow out of the gate for starting a television channel (Discovery Channel beat them to it).

SWOT Analysis: Strength=brand awareness, Opportunity=consumer interest in environment/global warning, Weakness=perception as older brand for younger consumers, Threat=consumers moving to digital platform but print is NG’s biggest profit source.

After you’ve gained knowledge, then start tracking. Who’s reading what, what’s being discussed at conferences, and social media coverage. News filtering: They use Google News, NewsGator, Factiva Alerts Module, LexisNexis Publisher. They showed a screenshot from NewsEdge but say they don’t use it. Searching capabilities on Google News are rather limited, but sources can be different from Factiva. Search strategy construction much more sophisticated on Factiva. Comparison chart shows price, ease of use, coverage, and data delivery options.

Identify “vanguard publications”, those that are at the forefront of an industry. Look at email newsletters because they’re very timely. Some blogs show up in Nexis and in Factiva. Also use NewsGator to track blogs and Bloglines to search blogs. Factiva Insight Reputation monitors 6000 news sources from 11,000 sources, but NGS can’t afford it. Marketimpact from LexisNexis is another reputation monitoring service. Need to tweak what terms are considered positive and which ones are negative.

 Market research reports can be found by searching, asking what your execs read, find out what other departments are buying. Use multiple sources. Reports are expensive. Library can help broker the deal internally. Library profile is raised through negotiation, training, and tracking what others are buying.

Information sharing. They started tracking who goes to what conference then asks attendees to give presentation on what they learned there.

They’ve put together customizable reports for departments. They’re now spotting trends, doing daily and monthly reports, and branding the library as the central place for trends analysis. They look for lone signals, landmark events, etc. They write special reports (15 to 20 pages). NGS hired their own business analysts to write these reports, so librarians aren’t doing so many now. NGS set up cross-departmental trends analysis group.

Barbara is encouraging audience to take on the role of trends analysts.  


Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals

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