eWatch Has Got Your Back

5 July 1999
Part of operating a successful business is adjusting and reacting tactfully when someone tries to knock you off your horse, and your presence on the Internet makes you an easy target for adversaries who are lining up to take potshots at you. Defamation is rampant on the Web, and damage control is vital, so it would do you a world of good to find someone to cover your back. The solution could be eWatch, a service that combs the Internet for negative material posted about your company.

eWatch monitors more than 50,000 newsgroups, electronic mailing lists, public discussion areas, web bulletin boards and online service forums such as AOL, Prodigy and Microsoft Network. It now serves about 650 customers, some of them big names such as the H.J. Heinz Company and Northwest Airlines. Other small businesses use eWatch as well, including those in the online gaming industry.

eWatch also provides WebWatch, which checks specific web pages for any changes to them. Most often, companies monitor the sites of their competition, activist groups, government agencies, the plaintiffs or defendants in a case, or even their own sites.

The material uncovered by eWatch is used to improve customer service, safeguard shareholder value, protect corporate reputation and brand integrity, monitor competition and pinpoint corporate activism.

If a company is interested in monitoring the Internet, once it signs up for $12,960 per year, eWatch will ask for a list of keywords that it will search for online. When eWatch finds a match for a keyword, it scans the material to make sure it is relevant. On a daily basis, eWatch sends a report via e-mail, fax or the web, which includes a brief analysis, which is an easy-to-read automatic summary of each message, linked to the full message text.

About 80 percent of the work eWatch does is performed by computers, while only 20 percent is done by people, said James Alexander, co-founder of the company. The computers search through all the discussion areas to find key word matches, and personnel root through the matches to find what is applicable for each company.

According to eWatch, an estimated 75 percent of large corporations actively monitor the Internet's public discussion bulletin boards and 44 percent routinely monitor web sites. More than 600 companies have turned to eWatch to help them accurately track what appears on the Internet each day.

As an example of how eWatch has helped companies combat hurtful and wrong comments made online, after O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder charges, reports circulated on the Internet that Mrs. Field's donated her cookies to a jurors' victory party. The story aired on Hard Copy and was also picked up by CNN. Despite retractions that were issued, the next day a lot of comments showed up on the Internet. The company contacted eWatch to monitor those comments, which continued, so they decided to issue a response.

To check it out for yourself, visit www.ewatch.com.