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Google’s Secret Tool That Everyone In PR Should Be Using

By Christophe Abiragi, Report Mule Founder

It’s called the custom search engine (CSE). Rather than getting lost in the noise of searching the entire internet, you can create your own search engine with just the publications that are most important.

To give you an idea of how it looks, here’s a CSE that only includes sites that publish press releases (PR Newswire, BusinessWire, Marketwatch, and PR Web). If you’re writing a press release and want to see what competitors or others in the same industry have put out recently a quick search here will get you what you need.

I’ll walk you through some other ways you might want to use a CSE and then how to build it.

Media List Building
There are a lot of great media databases that can help you build your target list but a little extra digging can help make the difference between good results and great. If you know the publications you want to target, but aren’t sure which journalists to contact - you would create your custom search engine and then search for key terms (your client, their competitors, and industry keywords).

Rather than wading through a million irrelevant results, you’ll quickly see the right articles in the publications that matter most. Click through to find the journalists you need to target. This will give you the most up-to-date information for your most meaningful contacts.

Media Monitoring
You need to know when your client is mentioned in the New York Times. You are less concerned about third tier publications. A quick way to keep tabs on what’s most important is a daily search in your CSE. By restricting the search to a handful of the most important publications, you’ll know that each result is something worth looking into.

Share of Voice
There are several ways to compare one company’s results against a competitor. One way that we measure this is by looking at the volume of coverage. For the most accuracy you might want to look at all coverage across online, broadcast, and print media and also mix qualitative and quantitative evaluation. This chews up a lot of resources, so one short cut often used is to pick a small representative sample of key publications and compare results in just that subset. Using the CSE you can quickly search for the mentions for all of the companies you want to compare. You can then compare on a number of different metrics like number of hits, total impressions, average domain authority, and total social shares. Once we’ve found all of the relevant links, we use our Report Mule software to automatically gather all of these metrics and have all of our articles ready to present in easy-to-read reports.

How to Build Your CSE
A few caveats before you get started. The CSE doesn’t always return comprehensive results. It seems to work better with a smaller list of publications and more targeted searches. So, if you search for just your client or company name it may not provide every mention across the publications. However, in our experience “client/company name” AND “Key Executive” OR “product name” will bring more results. We don’t have an exact limit on how many publications to include in your list - but 50 or so should be fine.

To get started, head to Google’s Programmable Search page.

Select “Add” and then you can list out the sites you’d like to search. You can add them one at a time here or save and add more in bulk after creating. Once you’ve added in all of the sites you want to monitor, give your Search Engine a name and then hit “Create.”

This will take you to a screen where you can get the link to your CSE (under Public URL) and adjust some of the settings. Under “Sites to Search” if you select Add and then choose “Include sites in bulk” you’ll have the option to copy in a list of sites. There are lots of customization options available, but at this point your CSE is done and ready
to go to work. Just bookmark the link to your own personal search engine and you can revisit whenever you need.