Yesterday there was just one ‘news’ story in Ireland – Taoiseach, Brian Cowen allegedly being hungover on radio show, Morning Ireland.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday afternoon, wrapping up the Fianna Fail Parliamentary Party think-in (or drink-in as it’s becoming known), Mr Cowen denied allegations he was hungover during the radio interview and attempted to lay blame at the feet of Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney for ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’ for political reasons.

The Taoiseach suggested that the controversy arose from Simon Coveney’s tweet saying that Cowen sounded ‘halfway between drunk and hung-over‘ on Morning Ireland.

This is simply untrue and perhaps wishful thinking on the part of Fianna Fail – there was widespread negative commentary on Twitter from a range of people just minutes after the interview…to say that Simon Coveney started it all gives Coveney an inflated sense of importance.

The most interesting thing was that Cowen tried to downplay and somewhat ridicule Twitter as a medium. He stated “I don’t know what the noun for Twitter is” and referred to Coveney’s tweet and comments as “pathetic and pitiful”.

O’Leary Analytics have produced an interesting analysis of the social media response to the latest ‘Cowengateor ‘Gargle-gate‘ as Miriam Lord is calling it today. This online media monitoring highlighted that Twitter was the most popular social media platform for discussion of the story with over 1,600 tweets published. The debate and exchange of links and information on Twitter on the Cowen story yesterday highlights the importance of Twitter as a resource for the modern communications professional. Twitter has an ever-increasing role in creating, shaping and sharing the news which makes it an important tool in modern communications.

If something was written about your brand/service in the Irish Times you would know about it and probably dash out to pick up several copies of the paper. Equally you should be listening online. How can you react to comments, queries, feedback or allegations if you don’t know what’s been said?

There are simple, free tools which everyone can use to start monitoring what’s being said online. Some such handy tools are…

  • Google Alerts – Set up free email alerts on the latest Google results (news, web, etc) for your chosen keywords.
  • Google Realtime Search is a handy tool which can help to find the origins of a story online. You simply type in the keywords from the story or headline and set the timeframe you want to look at.
  • Twitter Search – ‘Does what it says on the tin’ and allows you to see what’s being said about you or your brand on Twitter at any time.
  • Google Blog Search – Sometimes news/relevant comments appear in blog search results but might not appear in Google News searches or in the main index. Google Blog Search allows you to scan the blogosphere for mentions of your brand/company.
  • RSS Feeds – Subscribe to relevant sites and keep up to date with their latest articles by using a tool such as Google Reader.

Twitter’s role in creating and sharing the news makes it an important tool in modern communications.