Updated: 8/27/11

The morning of August 26th, Twitter erupted over rumors that the oldest tv and radio monitoring service was filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If these rumors are correct [they were], Video Monitoring Services closed their doors today at noon eastern [8/26/11].

What does this mean for their clients. Unfortunately, they will need to find a new vendor they can initially trust...then build a new relationship over time. Universal Information Services has been fielding calls and tweets from former VMS clients that need uninterrupted news tracking for themselves or their clients.

Our sister company, Utah News Clips, is also spreading out to assist VMS clients who know the show must go on.

It is a terribly sad day for us and our friends at VMS. I've worked personally with their CEOs, production, and sales team. Many of these people are my close friends. I hope the best for my friends at VMS and pledge my companies to continue the level of service they established for the news monitoring industry.

Please contact us if you need help in finding a new, best-fit solution for news monitoring. (800) 408-3178

    Note

The twittersphere is ripe with allegations that the software-as-a-service (SaaS) competitors killed VMS. As an innovator in this industry I think that notion is dangerous. There was no mass exodus of clients from VMS, it sounds like they simply loss direction from a management perspective. I am not on the inside, by the title of this blog is #SameRules #NewTools. This philosophy applies here in that VMS set the benchmark for quality client relations. All in the industry, including Critical Mention, Cision, and Universal bench-marked ourselves against VMS. The customer experience is still the number one issue to a client. We all have real-time reports, preview video, and edit on demand. I think the real difference now is between those who still offer true customer support, and those who don't. I believe the clients of VMS chose VMS because they wanted a team to call, someone to make things happen, and help when they didn't have time or didn't understand the interface. These things are all good and still available through companies like mine. The SaaS model exists for those who want to serve themselves, or think they won't need help.

As you review new vendors, think what your needs truly are. Have they changed just because VMS has closed their doors? Probably not.

Comments
  • August 27, 2011 at 4:30 pm Dan Bliss says:

    I have always felt “Software as a Service” was a loaded term. It is very difficult to get true “service” out of software. Most of it is very difficult to customize, and doesn’t act differently in times of crisis. As a company who holds “Service” as a primary part of what we sell (Which is in the same circle VMS is), the client who is looking for a vendor to work for them is very different from the client who is looking to spend a majority of their time carrying out doing data-entry, or relying on a computer to do work for them. Companies who perform an actual service for their clients are special, and as the economy continues to have hardships, we are going to see these companies begin to gain steam as they set themselves apart from the companies who only sell software.

  • August 28, 2011 at 11:10 am Darren Drevik says:

    Todd-
    You raise some good points, and the postmortem on VMS can provide interesting lessons for the industry (I’m actually pondering penning such an analysis as we speak). I don’t think SaaS competitors alone did in VMS, and the direction at the top probably has to shoulder a large part of the blame. But in a changing marketplace, while service is critical you can’t continue to invest and evolve. VMS was able to print money for years because they were first in the space, but they failed to invest that capital in keeping ahead of the curve. Failing to see the growth of digital and social media allowed others to enter the space and take the lead (Radian6 anyone?). WIll make an interesting discussion.

  • August 28, 2011 at 7:36 pm Arun Agarwal says:

    Universal was instrumental in our decision making process regarding how to position our hotels. We promptly received industry information regarding changes in corprate and leisure travels. After a very open conversation, the Universal team knew what I wanted, and received it promptly. We are now engaging them to continue to track those changes allowing us to assimilate.

    • August 30, 2011 at 12:18 pm Todd Murphy says:

      Thanks for testimonial. I recall the special needs you had related to your venture. I’m very proud of the fact that our client relations manager was able to get that data to you within minutes of your call. Earning our clients respect is important to us. Thanks for the kind words.

  • August 29, 2011 at 8:30 am Drew Embury says:

    For us, customer experience was the key factor when choosing a news monitoring service. Universal demonstrated to us their ability to deliver all the news, but also has a support team there when we need them. They are just good to work with, which is an added plus.

    –Drew

    • August 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm Todd Murphy says:

      Yes, our people are the difference. The fact that we can assign dedicated support staff to our clients makes all the difference in the world. Handling the 8am-5pm needs are important, but you can really grade a service based on how readily available they are during off hours. As you know, you have a team available to you 24/7 just in case a crisis situation arises. We greatly appreciate your support of Universal Information Services.

  • August 29, 2011 at 10:57 am Mark Bishop says:

    The VMS bankruptcy left us out in the cold! I found out on Friday morning, the same day that I didn’t receive my reports that I was depending on. I saw this posting and some tweeting activity about Universal Information Services and am going to give them a call.

    • August 30, 2011 at 12:14 pm Todd Murphy says:

      Mark: I’m glad to know that our social media engagement helped you find our service. We’re simply trying to help those former VMS clients find their way to a quality vendor that most closely resembles the services they received from Video Monitoring Services. I’m confident we can help you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • August 29, 2011 at 9:10 pm Darren Drevik says:

    I hope every VMS customer lands with a good provider. They’re certainly all out there in the Twittershere today beating their chests about how great they are. Perhaps the most frustrating thing to the VMS staff was the way the end was handled — not in how they got screwed, because they most certainly did — but rather in how cavalierly ownership treated clients. Many of our team had developed close relationships with clients, and some were in tears about how they were going to be “shut off” with no real notice. Certainly shameful to run your company into the ground, certainly shameful to leave your employees to the mercies of a bank like Capital One (assuming banks these days even have the capacity for mercy), but to leave clients to the wolves on a Friday afternoon was the most painful and embarrassing of all. I was proud when I saw salespeople at our impromptu wake in New York Friday afternoon ducking repeatedly out of the bar to call clients and try and set them up with other providers.

    • August 29, 2011 at 10:05 pm Todd Murphy says:

      Darren: Thanks for taking the time to correspond with me via email late tonight. I appreciated you clarifying your comment, that in your opinion not all news monitoring services are “chest beaters”. As I referred to in one of my posts, I wanted our industry to make sure we did not work to serve former VMS clients by dancing on the grave of VMS. You replied to me that you did not feel Cision or Universal Information Services fit into the category of the “chest beaters”. I appreciate your honesty and also feel that Cision operates a quality news monitoring service. Many of my industry friends are also at Cision. Having grown up in this industry I have news monitoring “family” all over this World. Thanks again for your thoughts.

  • August 29, 2011 at 9:27 pm Kimm Hudson says:

    My husband worked for VMS for the past 4 years. He had Friday off for a vacation day and went to work this morning to find nothing but a note on a chair outside the office. The note said that the company had shut down and that they would pay employees through August 26th and that there would be NO payout on any vacation time unless they lived int he state of Illinois. All medical coverage was ceased as of August 26th. There is also no Cobra option available because the company no longer exists. This hurts our family more than anyone could know but even worse than us, there is a woman who just transferred to VMS Louisville from Arizona now just made a move halfway across the country to a new state to find herself without a job. Can you honestly tell me that VMS did not know this was in the works a month ago? What they did to each and every employee was beyond any words I can even think of for a moment. Our hearts go out to all VMS employees today.

    • August 29, 2011 at 9:57 pm Todd Murphy says:

      Kimm: My heart, as well as the hearts of everyone in this industry, goes out to your family and friends. As an owner of my own news monitoring company I know there are two equal priorities. First, the experience each customer has when they trust us with their account. Second, the welfare of the employees on our team. Without commenting on what happened internally at VMS, I can say that our business is all about the people. Universal, and our competitors, truly have many of the same tools. But how we treat our team members and our clients may differ. I hope our industry finds opportunity for all those impacted by the VMS closing. Thank you for sharing.

  • August 30, 2011 at 8:48 am Jay Bolding says:

    I’m getting into this discussion perhaps a bit late, but I would add that Todd and his team at Universal have been nothing but professional since we began using them. They have provided timely and valuable information to me as a business owner at a very reasonable price. When we looked to reduce our cost structure during the last 18 months using a “necessary vs nice” criteria we concluded that Universal and their services were “necessary” for our continued success.

    • August 30, 2011 at 12:11 pm Todd Murphy says:

      Jay: Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad we were able to structure a package of news monitoring services to fit within your budget…and as a “necessary” item. I know in our business we evaluate what costs can be reduced or eliminated without hindering the services we provide. This approach has let us maintain our high level of customer service and available services, while generating the greater cost efficiencies for our clients. We really appreciate working with you.

  • September 8, 2011 at 5:52 pm John says:

    Just found out about the bankruptcy. We were one of their vendors and had to find out from this site about it. We are now left with all of this data center / cable tv infrastructure setup for the Bay Area market. If anyone has suggestions on what to do with this, please let me know.

    Thanks.

    • September 8, 2011 at 9:23 pm Todd Murphy says:

      Again, I would probably sit on the equipment until more information is made public related to those assets. Consulting an attorney is probably worth an hour of paid time. If any other ideas appear I’ll post a response for you.

  • September 8, 2011 at 6:31 pm Dave says:

    I hosted a cc and radio computer and have no information about what is going on. Got an email from the guy I worked with at VMS. Anyone know what to do with the computers? can I sell them to recoop the lack of payment due me?

    • September 8, 2011 at 9:20 pm Todd Murphy says:

      We have heard from several equipment hosts that they did not receive payment from VMS for the past few months. I can’t offer accurate advice, but do know that a trustee has been appointed and that some assets will be liquidated. I would probably hang on to the equipment and wait a bit. Let the dust settle on the bankruptcy, then decide after that. Good luck

Add a comment