Educate Advocates through Engage’s Content Streams

A key feature to Engage, and a cornerstone of many issue advocacy efforts, is the access the platform provides to content from roughly 4,000 news and blog sources. Our system processes roughly 13,000 articles per day from these sources, filtering the content into various buckets by the search strings that our clients have created and delivering these buckets of content to each client throughout the day.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look as to how the content makes it from the source to your newsfeed. And, more importantly, today we’ll look at a few tips and tricks for how to make sure you’re getting the most of your subscription.

The Process

Covering just about every activity on Capitol Hill, our more than 180 reporters in the CQ Roll Call newsroom produce dozens of articles, blog posts, bill analysis and more each day. At that same time, agreements in place with other news organizations and providers mean that we also have a steady stream of news articles coming into our system throughout the day. All of this content is bundled up into a larger database waiting to be matched to a client’s keywords. These searches, or agents as they’re called, then run against the content in the database, pulling back any new articles that have matched for that specific client. These new articles are grouped together by client and shipped off to their Engage site at regular intervals. From there clients have the ability to publish them directly to their site, add commentary or link them to active engagements.

The Searches

What runs the process is the individual client searches. At CQ Roll Call, we always say that searching the database for content is more of an art than a science. Today, we’ll go into a few sample queries and look at the best way to maximize your Streams. Specifically:

  • Boolean Connectors:
    Streams are run off of boolean string searches. These searches can include logic as well, meaning that we can search for a specific string then exclude articles that match a different string. For example:

    • AND: Use the AND operator to find articles that contain both words, e.g. Chevrolet AND Manufacturing
    • OR: Use the OR operator to find articles that contain either word, e.g. President OR Obama
    • AND NOT: Use the AND NOT operator to find articles that have one and not the other word, e.g. Toyota AND NOT Accident
    • Parentheses: Use Parens as a way to group strings together, e.g. Oldsmobile AND NOT (Accident OR Death)
    • Quotation Marks: Use Quotation Marks when looking for an exact string, e.g. “Digital Strategy”

    Also, NOTE: Boolean operators should always be UPPERCASE throughout — a lowercase ‘and’ will not work.

  • Specify Your AND NOTs:
    By default, our searches are very inclusive. That means that when doing a search for veterans, you are likely to receive content that includes articles that center around baseball, football, hockey and other sports.What we suggest instead would be a more refined search, much like the following (veterans AND jobs) AND NOT (MLB OR NHL OR baseball OR hockey OR football). This new search explicitly rules out the content that you don’t want to see, making it easier to find the content that best fits your effort’s voice.
  • Separating Searches:
    When creating streams, try to avoid creating one large search separated by OR statements. Why? It makes it difficult to refine your search once you’ve created it. That is, I don’t necessarily know which of the terms brought back that specific article.A better way to manage your streams would be to break up individual custom searches. Let’s take the following example:Start: “Daniel Snyder” OR “Washington Redskins” OR “Robert Griffin III” OR rgiii OR rg3 OR footballThe issue here is that we have a lot of broad terms in one search. This will bring back news content that hits on any of these terms, no matter how broad it is.

    Better: Create separate searches based on the content you want to see. That is, if you’re concerned about the team name, create a search based on that, concerned about performance, go that direction, etc. Thus, the search above would turn into:

    • “Daniel Snyder” AND washington AND “football team”
    • “Robert Griffin III” OR rgiii OR rg3

Keys to Castle

To review, we sort through and process a lot of content each day. To make sure you’re getting the most of our system, keep these 3 keys in mind:

  • UPPERCASE all connectors – AND, OR, AND NOT
  • Our search is inclusive – use connectors and logic to filter out content
  • Break up single searches – create multiple searches with more focused terms – it’ll save you time in the future

Author: Engage Team

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