SnapStream Blog

3 C M A - City-County Communications and Marketing Association

September 17 2010 by Mark Brooks

In Atlanta last week (Sept. 8-10), I represented SnapStream at the City-County Communications and Marketing Association (3CMA) annual conference. The event combined technology, creativity, information and networking in a fun-filled atmosphere.

They had dozens of workshops focusing on every aspect of communications. I was lucky enough to participate as a panelist for "Stay on Top of Your Game: Communications Survival Skills." With experienced 3CMA'ers Michelle Bono (Asst. to City Manager, Tallahassee) and Joe Munoz (PIO Manager, Maricopa County), we discussed techniques for flourishing consistently in local government communications and marketing.

It was exciting to bring television monitoring to the conversation and gauge the importance, especially at the city government level. Nearly 200 3CMA’ers made the trip to the conference and are now headed back to their work sites armed with powerful new tools to increase their communication arsenals. I'm looking forward to next year's event in Austin--3CMA Texas Style!

How the Anaheim Police Dept. captures "breaking news"

June 17 2010 by Rachel Abbott

Anaheim Police Badge

Anaheim is the home of Disney Land, nestled in California's vibrant metropolis of Orange County. With over 3 million people residing in the O.C. and the constant influx of tourists, the Anaheim Police Department works diligently to keep citizens safe, informed and protected.

Sergeant Rick Martinez and Sergeant Tim Schmidt, the primary PIOs at Anaheim PD, have deeply integrated and ingrained SnapStream into their everyday line of duty. From talking with Sgt. Martinez and Sgt. Schmidt during our PIO webinar on June 3, we learned about their applications of the SnapStream Server. And to our delight, we discovered there's much more than meets the eye.

At the core, Anaheim relies on SnapStream chiefly to search across TV and to create clips for archival references. But interestingly enough, the police department is also capturing video evidence from news broadcasts and deploying it to support criminal investigations. You wouldn't believe the number of witnesses who divulge information to the news media, when instead they should be reporting valuable tips to the police department.

We're now gathering evidence that we were not necessarily getting before. We're more efficient because of that [TV search].
- Sgt. Tim Schmidt, PIO, Anaheim PD

In any case, Anaheim PD can now masterfully rope in testimonies, some with dead-on implicating statements, from television news sources, and in turn, utilize these broadcasts in court. Sgt. Schmidt says that the inherent value of a news clip has extremely powerful conviction playing before a jury.

So now, we are helping police departments do more than monitor media because:

  • They know about evidence that otherwise, they wouldn't be aware of, if it weren't for the channeled pulse of TV search.
  • They can avoid issuing subpoenas to new stations, which slows down the progress of a case while it's hot. (And forget about paying for clipping services.)

Catch this snippet of insight from Anaheim. For the whole story, the full-length Anaheim webinar is available on our YouTube channel.

On the Road with Public Information Officers

May 04 2010 by Rachel Abbott

Spring is in the air, and it's the perfect time for road trips. This month, we're leaving Houston in the rear view, touring to Kansas, Georgia and Ontario to convene with three different government crowds. The schedule of events is leaning towards public safety, information and communication.

Along our way, we'll pick up our friends from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Johnson County Sheriff's Office, Overland Park Fire Department and Plano Police Department.

Once we're cruising, we'll get to talking about television monitoring, workflows and best practices, all from the PIO's point of view. (PIO = public information officer)

First stop, Kansas

KAPIO | Lawrence, KS | Thurs. May 13, 12 pm

SnapStream, I've a feeling we're not in Houston anymore. We're hightailing it to Kansas for the first, ever, statewide gathering of PIOs, not to mention officers from surrounding states like Missouri. We are thrilled to be a part of the Kansas Association of Public Information Officers' inaugural conference, where we're hosting the headlining educational seminar.

Panelists: Tom Erickson, president of KAPIO and PIO for Johnson County Sheriff's Office, and Jason Rhodes, PIO of Overland Park Fire Department

Next up, P-I-O' Canada!

IACP PIO | Toronto, ON | Fri. May 21, 8:30 am

The week after KAPIO, we're trekking to Toronto for a friendly meet-up with our neighbors to the North. American and Canadian public information officers will come together at this joint event between the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) for an open exchange of information and training across borders.

Panelists: From the Royal Canadian Mounted Police - Steven Lusignan, Media Monitoring and Analysis Unit of Public Affairs and Communications Services, and David Patterson, Operational Readiness and Response Coordination Center

A Peachy Finish

IACP LEIM | Atlanta, GA | Thurs. May 27, 10:15 am

Last in the lineup, we head to the Peach State for the 34th annual IACP Law Enforcement Information Management (LEIM) training conference, where we'll learn about the technology that battles crime and helps departments run at tip-top speed.

Panelists: From the Plano Police Department - Rick McDonald, Public Information Officer, and Heather Bowden, PIO Coordinator

Oh, the places we go! That wraps up the trips for May. Thanks to everyone who's coming along for the ride.

Visualizing The State of the Union

January 29 2010 by Mark Brooks

State of the Union Word Cloud

As my team is in the field showing off our ability to search television for mentions of interest, we occasionally field questions about the variety of applications for the data. In general, SnapStream customers are able to search, clip and distribute content of interest from a single user interface. Using closed captioning, SnapStream brings a user directly to any mention of interest within a recorded broadcast. Occasionally, especially in a University or Public Relations setting, the topic turns to statistical analysis. While our solution does not currently offer a statistical engine, the data is easily exported for analysis.

Politics aside, I have downloaded the closed-caption text from Wednesday night's (January 27, 2010) State of the Union. Using the word cloud creator at, I quickly created the above symbolic representation of the speech. The 75-minute speech generated over 7,000 words, of which, the top 200 are represented in the cloud. has the option to remove "common" words – looks to be mostly prepositions, conjunctions and pronouns - to get at the meat of the text . The more appearances a word makes in the text, the larger the word is portrayed in the cloud. The top five words from the speech were People, Americans, Year, Jobs and Work. The overall process took less than 5 minutes - in fact, it took considerably less time than creating this post. ;-)
For customers that are currently using our television search solution, here is a guide to the process. First, locate the video content by searching (or browsing, in this case) within the user interface. If the topic of interest is short, you can use the clipping feature to "trim" down the Closed Caption transcript - when clipping video, SnapStream automatically trims the closed caption transcript as well, so the clip is also searchable. Browse the library for the show or clip, and instead of playing the file, choose "Download Transcript" from the about program page. A dialog will open asking where you want to save the text file of the transcript. The only massaging required is to remove the timestamps, which can be done in any text editor. Copy the text to's create engine and sit back to admire your work.

How did we learn of this capability? Interestingly enough, a customer turned us on to the ability during last years election. Ultimately, the goal was statistical analysis of candidate speeches - the cloud representation was just a by-product. We are never ceased to be amazed at the uses customers find for our products.

How Elected Officials Enhance their Media Monitoring Efforts

June 05 2009 by Melissa Kidonakis


Join us for our web seminar (June 23rd, 2:30 PM CST) specific for the communications offices of elected officials, and learn how your office can leverage TV content to interact with your constituents in a more responsive and efficient way.

Many government officials across the country are currently using SnapStream to aid them with television media monitoring. They are able to simultaneously record news channels (including CSPAN, CNN, Fox News, etc.) plus any internal cable TV feeds 24×7 and then search the closed-caption text for keyword mentions to keep track of legislation issues and media appearances. And with the relaxation of the Franking Rules this past January, they can now take advantage of SnapStream's clipping feature to increase their online video presence by uploading video clips to their YouTube, House or Senate page.


SnapStream is currently used in the offices of elected officials to:



  • Track TV mentions of officials, staff and legislation
  • Create clips for online distribution
  • Distribute TV using the existing office network
  • Record & search thousands of hours of TV
  • Eliminate manual search of video tapes and clipping fees

When compared to TiVos/DVRs, VCRs or clipping services, SnapStream provides dramatic improvements in cost and convenience.

Event: How Elected Officials Enhance their Media Monitoring Efforts
When: June 23rd, 2009; 2:30 CST

Sign me Up!

City of Austin cuts TV montoring costs with SnapStream

May 20 2009 by Melissa Kidonakis


Tired of managing VCRs or TiVo’s? Looking for a better way to monitor press coverage? Register for our special web seminar geared towards Public Information Officers in government. The City of Austin will be the guest speaker and will be discussing how they were able to cut the costs associated with maintaining 12 unreliable VCRs by moving to a more cost-effective, unified solution – the SnapStream Server.


The City of Austin will discuss how they:



• Digitally record and archive all TV coverage
• Allow cross-departmental access to those recordings
• Instantaneously pinpoint mentions of interest
• Create clips from full recordings
• Use past coverage for training purposes
• Monitor newscasts
• Create daily media reports
• Respond appropriately and quickly to TV coverage

Event: Learn how the City of Austin monitors TV
When: June 2nd, 2009; 2:30 CST
Guest Speaker: City of Austin

Sign me Up!

Tracking TV Mentions of Your Government Agency

April 02 2009 by Lynne Burke

Governments use SnapStream to monitor television for a variety of reasons. In most government uses, it’s the PIOs who are using SnapStream to keep themselves, and thus the public, informed about issues that relate to the governing of the city and the reaction of the media to those issues. It is the responsibility of the PIOs to track events, issues and people relating to their specific department/agency.

So as the PIO, you are responsible for being spokespeople for the City and for coordinating all other communications activities with the media and citizens. Being able to respond quickly to coverage relating to your city is key. SnapStream servers allow you to do just that. Using the TV search function, you can find whatever you’re looking for immediately, without having to scan through hours of media coverage manually.


The SnapStream Servers also give you the ability to edit out just the segment you need and then email that clip. You can even have an email alert sent to you notifying you of mentions of whatever it is you’re looking for. Read more about SnapStream email alerts.


Do More With Less. With SnapStream, administrators can easily control who has access to the server and what features they have access to. For a lot of government groups, for example, access to media recordings is limited to one centralized group, and so those departments that have access are often overloaded with requests for copies of news coverage – which is both time-consuming and expensive.

By using SnapStream Servers to streamline your media monitoring efforts, you can:

  • Improve reaction time to media coverage
  • Eliminate costs of VHS tapes and shipping
  • Give access to multiple departments; reducing unnecessary strain on one centralized group

Recently, The City of Austin was a guest speaker for a webinar we held on the benefits of using SnapStream for government media monitoring. Reyne Telles, the Media Relation Manager at “Corporate PIO” says that as the City of Austin has been on a hiring freeze and his team has been short-staffed, SnapStream has enabled his group to do more with less. Read more about how the City of Austin is using SnapStream.

Tracking TV in the live music capital of the world

March 03 2009 by Rakesh



First, some background. The City of Austin is the 14th largest city in the United States, the capital of Texas and home to 700,000 residents. Known for its high-tech companies (for example, Dell and Samsung), its government, and seven-time Tour De France winner Lance Armstrong, Austin gets it's fair share of attention in the media.


And Austin's residents are active citizens, with a great interest in things happening in the City of Austin. Accordingly, there are six TV news organizations in Austin -- ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Univision and News 8 Austin -- all of whom individually cover things happening in Austin City Government. The City of Austin team estimates that there are probably 150 news stories about the City of Austin in any given month -- that's about 33 TV news stories a week!

Austin's Public Information Office

Wikipedia has a good description of the job of a public information officer:

"Public Information Officers (PIOs) are the communications coordinators or spokespersons of certain governmental organizations (i.e. police departments, army, city, county, state governments). They differ from public relations departments of private organizations in that many of them typically do not engage in marketing, but solely in providing information to the public and the media..."

So Austin's Public Information Offices are responsible for being spokespeople for the City and for coordinating all other communications activities with the media and citizens.

The City of Austin has one central public information group, called the "Corporate PIO", and then there are another 25 to 30 department PIOs for each of Austin's various city departments, including:

  • Austin Police Department
  • Austin Fire Department
  • Austin Water
  • Austin Energy
  • Austin Convention Center
  • Economic Growth and Redevelopment
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Public Works


Austin's "Corporate PIO" handles anything relating to the central city management and larger issues that span multiple departments. With 6 local TV news organizations and television being approximately 60% of all media mentions the city receives, monitoring TV has always been important to them.

How the City of Austin USED to monitor television

Before SnapStream, the City of Austin's Corporate PIO and 25-30 department PIOs monitored television in a fragmented fashion -- everyone was doing their own thing.

VCRs and VHS tapes: The "Corporate PIO" group and 2 other departments PIOs had large banks of VCRs that they used to record television onto VHS cassette tapes. Naturally, VCRs were a labor intensive solution.


DIY PC TV Recorders: Two other department PIOs had built their own DIY PC TV recording devices. These devices requires constant upkeep and maintenance and were, ultimately, unreliable.


What the rest did: All the other PIO department would call the "Corporate PIO" group asking to be sent physical VHS tape copies of media mentions they had received. This put a lot of burden on the "Corporate PIO" group to take requests, dub tapes and then physically ship VHS tapes around the city.

So the way the City of Austin used to do media monitoring was fragmented (everyone was doing their own thing), expensive (lots of labor went into making recordings and then making cuts of those recordings), and time-consuming.

How the City of Austin monitors television TODAY (yes, with SnapStream!)

Sometime in 2007, Keith Reeves at the City of Austin saw a demonstration of SnapStream at a TATOA event and after a few more meetings, the City of Austin bought a 10-tuner SnapStream Server in 2008.


The City of Austin's SnapStream Server is hosted inside of a data center in Austin City Hall and it's used by all the department PIOs across the city. The ability to schedule new recordings is limited to a few administrators. Here's a breakdown of how the City of Austin uses the 10-tuners on their SnapStream Server:Tuners 1 through 6: These are used to record every news broadcast from Austin's 6 news channels -- FOX, ABC, CBS, NBC, Univision and News 8 Austin.Tuner 7: One tuner is dedicated to recording the City of Austin's municipal channel -- this includes recordings of all City Council meetings and many of the City's other public meetings.Tuners 8, 9 and 10: The last three tuners are dedicated to record one-off newscasts (for example, if there is a news segment on CNN that the City of Austin knows they'll be covered on) and to record TV shows requested for educational purposes. For example, there was a documentary airing on TV about a particular gang that was moving into Texas and the City of Austin's Gang Task Force was able to request that video and use it for educational and training purposes. Finally, these last few tuners allow for very limited live TV viewing by a handful of users.

Single solution with self-service for departments: Now, SnapStream's client software is installed on 50 desktops throughout the city. When a particular department wants a TV clip, rather than calling Austin's "Corporate PIO", they just run the client software, search for what they are looking for and create their own clip.


Keith Reeves, Manager at Austin 6 and the architect for SnapStream at the City of Austin says, "SnapStream has allowed us to cut down on our DVD dubs for City Council meetings and various department PIOs. Before, we'd get consistent requests for burning stuff for each of the 25-30 departments around the City of Austin! Now we just tell them, talk to the rep in your office and they can make you a clip of just that segment. You don't have to wait on us, just go do it yourself."

And as other city government employees have seen SnapStream, additional users have wanted access to the City of Austin is in the process of adding additional clients to their SnapStream setup.

Getting more done with less: Reyne Telles, the Media Relation Manager at "Corporate PIO" says that as the City of Austin has been on a hiring freeze and his team has been short-staffed, SnapStream has enabled his group to do more with less. And Reyne is able to respond and react more to the media.

"If I get a call from a reporter at ABC asking about something that was said on another network in Austin, I can immediately pull it up in SnapStream, see what was said 10 minutes ago and get back to the reporter very quickly with a response," said Reyne.

SnapStream gets namecheck'ed at Republican tech event

February 17 2009 by Rakesh

In this article on by Christopher Beam, it's mentioned that SnapStream got a nice shout-out at the Republican Party's Tech Summit last week:

A woman named Carrie Pickett says Republicans should get hip to SnapStream, a program that lets you flag and record anything that appears on TV, like Google news alerts for video. So anytime a candidate is mentioned, they automatically have the footage.

Our product saw a bit of usage in this last election cycle, including now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential bid and popular blogs "The Jed Report" and "Daily Kos", so it's cool to see that the word is spreading.

But I have one question... who is Carrie Pickett? I'd love to know where she heard about us -- if you know who she is, please e-mail me or leave a comment here. (Yes, this feels a bit like a Craigslist Missed Connection).

What is SnapStream? There's an unlimited amount of video content out there: 24/7 news channels, breaking news events, sports, talk shows, awards galas, entertainment shows, and so much more.

SnapStream makes a real-time news and media search engine that makes it fast and easy to find the video moments that support our customers telling great stories.

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