What is Media Monitoring and How Does It Work?
We live in the information age. With 24/7 access to news and information, staying informed about what’s being said across various media channels is more important than ever.
Knowledge and understanding are two of the most powerful tools any professional can harness. That’s why media monitoring is an increasingly vital piece of the PR puzzle.
Understanding Media Monitoring
While media monitoring is related to media relations, the two are not one and the same.
Media monitoring is the broad umbrella that covers the various tools and techniques PR professionals use to monitor and understand their portrayal in the media. This means monitoring what the media is saying about your brand, industry and competitors as well as any topics of interest relevant to your business.
Once upon a time, this meant checking magazines and newspapers to see where your organisation was mentioned. Relevant segments of the paper would be clipped out and stuck into a notebook or a folder for later reference. Why would PR professionals subscribe to as many relevant publications as they could and go through this painstaking process?
The answer is simple: it enables you to control your brand’s reputation. Media monitoring enables tracking of the brand’s performance across various traditional and non-traditional media sources. When combined with PR skills and experience, it facilitates the measuring of communications effectiveness.
What gets measured gets managed. What gets managed gets mastered.
Media monitoring allows you to master the tools required to control and define your reputation.
Objectives of Media Monitoring
Media monitoring has a few clear objectives that are vital to the success of any PR endeavour.
Brands live and die on their reputation.
Monitoring your brand’s reputation in the media allows you to understand the audience and media perception of the brand. You can use this knowledge to inform your next PR manoeuvres and engage meaningfully with your target audience, especially online.
In The Art of War, Sun Tzu wrote:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
Of course, your competitors aren’t enemies in the sense that Sun Tzu was talking about, but the truism stands. The more you know about your competition, the better positioned you are to outperform them.
Monitoring your competitors’ media performance allows you to stay ahead of them. Perhaps they fumbled a campaign that allows you to go after the market segment they missed.
Maybe they’re using a successful strategy that would work well for your own brand.
Whatever the result, competitor analysis is always a useful undertaking.
It’s an old PR axiom that crisis management is most effective before the crisis.
Media monitoring enables this by giving you the ability to identify and react to any potential crises before they build momentum.
Think of all the social media personalities personally engaging with negative comments or reviews to prevent them from snowballing and becoming a genuine crisis.
This is exactly what media monitoring allows, but on a larger, more business oriented scale.
How Media Monitoring Works
Modern media monitoring techniques cover a broad range, from cutting-edge technological tricks to more old-school reading of media coverage.
Media monitoring works best when you combine several techniques and approaches to craft one custom made for your unique business. As the leading PR agency in Sydney, we’ve listed some of our favourite tactics below.
There are various tools available for collecting data across various sources. The raw data, itself, isn’t particularly useful, but it provides valuable information and a strong foundation from which to commence your analysis.
The first step is to collect the data and put the statistics together. Various data collection softwares exist to assist with this, with data collection available for social media, news articles, blog posts, forums. You want to gather data from as many corners of the internet as possible.
Raw data by itself is nowhere near as powerful as when it is contextualised by sentiment analysis.
In essence, sentiment analysis evaluates the tone and context of your media mentions.
For example, a cafe might show up in two articles: one is a simple list of cafes in their local area. The other is a glowing recommendation from the Michelin guide.
Without sentiment analysis, that just looks like two mentions, but one is far more valuable and offers much more information about the cafe’s reputation than the other.
First, you need to identify relevant keywords and phrases for your business. These might be related to your industry, your location, your competitors, or your specific niche.
Whatever they are, tracking these keywords as well as direct mentions improves the accuracy of your media monitoring data and helps make your data more meaningful.
With about half of the world’s population actively engaged in news and social media daily, it’s important to extend media monitoring to various channels.
This includes newspapers, magazines, and broadcast media outlets. It also extends to social media monitoring, the de facto hangout for humanity on the internet, and the blogs and online forums where those with common, if niche, interests, tend to congregate.
Although blogs and forums aren’t as powerful as they were ten years ago, their loyal, highly engaged audiences can still be hugely impactful when it comes to media monitoring.
Tools and Technologies
There are plenty of media monitoring tools available on the market today, all with different strengths.
Professionals use these tools to track and analyse various forms of media, across news articles, social media posts, online reviews, and anywhere else your business might be mentioned.
With specialised tools for monitoring keywords, topics and brands, and highly tailored algorithms and search techniques, these tools are critical to any modern media monitoring approach.
The three most popular tools on the market today are:
Keyhole’s major strength as a media monitoring service is its ability to track hashtags, keywords, and trends across all major social media platforms in real time. It is one of the most powerful social media monitoring tools on the market.
Keyhole does all this and presents the information on a dashboard, with available insights related to online presence, engagement, and sentiment analysis.
By far its most useful feature is the heavy customisation allowed for users, particularly your capacity to filter data by date, location, language, and media type.
Brand24 offers the capacity to set customisable alerts for keywords and media mentions. It also tracks influencers, a crucial feature for those operating in a primarily online space.
Brand24 also provides sentiment analysis features.
Talkwalker is another tool that provides customisable dashboards for the easy display of gathered data. It also provides competitor tracking as well as user tracking, enabling users to engage with competitor performance.
While it has a steep learning curve, many users prefer this as it covers the enormously powerful range of features offered by Talkwalker. It has impressively robust analytics capabilities, with real time data on the dashboard.
Why is Media Monitoring Important?
Any tool that helps businesses connect with their audience is of tremendous importance. That’s where media monitoring is truly most useful.
Successful media monitoring campaigns enable businesses to understand not only who is talking about their brand, but what they are saying.
Any decision is always better when it’s informed by real data. Media monitoring empowers businesses to make decisions informed by concrete, real-time data. You can tweak your PR campaigns while they are still going, improving your odds of success.
Engagement with your audience can be as simple as a restaurant owner greeting every customer as they come in, or being sure to reply to comments on an article that mentions your business.
Media monitoring makes the latter form of engagement easier, and offers unparalleled understanding of your audience’s perspective, creating improved opportunities for future engagement.
Of course, any business wants maximum return on investment for their PR and marketing campaigns. That’s where media monitoring is extremely useful: with advanced measuring and analytical capabilities, you can easily measure the success of your PR and marketing efforts.
With the ability to pivot and tweak campaigns in real time, businesses can improve ROI exponentially with a strong media monitoring approach.
Getting Started with Media Monitoring
If you haven’t embarked on any media monitoring before, it’s best to start by identifying your needs.
Do you need real time media monitoring data analysis? Deep, accurate sentiment analysis? Improved audience engagement?
Whatever your needs, there’s a tool out there for you. Understanding the unique needs of your current PR position will help choose your media monitoring tool
From there, it’s about implementing a strong media monitoring strategy.
Implementing A Media Monitoring Strategy
- Choose the right social media platforms
- Identify trending posts and players in your niche
- Identify mentions, posts, and keywords relevant to your business
- Sort posts and mentions based on importance
- Monitor for continuous improvement.
When you have the competitive advantage offered by media monitoring and real-time information, your business will be well-positioned for success.
Considering the modern media landscape is a 24/7, consistently updating deluge of information, media monitoring has never been more important.
The media monitoring tools and techniques offered in this article are a great start for any business, brand, or PR professional looking to add media monitoring to their arsenal of strategies.