Media monitoring and analysis is a bone of contention for professional PR and communication firms and professionals. All are dependent on this outsourced service.
The spread and speed of communication, newsfeed and information channels continue to increase. If you are unaware of or learn too late about negative publicity and conversations on traditional and social media, it could cost you in reputation and business.
There are several options available, but it all starts by developing a clear brief for your needs.
Track too little and you may miss that reputational time-bomb. Buy a big menu and you may be overwhelmed and find it difficult to decide on a response or appropriate action. Which is the right monitoring agency, what analysis should we pay for and what is the risk if we go for a smaller fee?
Several companies provide this service as two components – firstly monitoring, i.e. tracking and capturing reports, articles, posts, news coverage; and secondly: analysing whether the coverage is negative, neutral or positive, which media platform and journalists give you most coverage, what trends there are and other relevant criteria.
Costs depend on the method you choose. Conversations that are marked positive/negative/neutral by a computer come at lower cost but are less accurate. This may indicate trends adequately. The human judgment is more expensive, but more accurate. It is about how precisely you want to measure the temperature.
DIY options include old-fashioned clippings, Google searches and alerts, but these tools are labour-intensive and not adequate for any larger organisations or businesses that rely on awareness, publicity and marketing.
Some monitoring companies pitch on global reach for local needs. Some may be stronger on social and online coverage, but miss a trick when it comes to print, especially community papers (not everything is replicated in print and online versions of the title). Some offer “gateways” for subscribers to monitor real-time. Others offer alerts via apps, text or e-mail. Infographics and metrics such as “share-of-voice” also differ.
The monitoring of social conversations on FB, Instagram and Twitter is growing in importance.
This guide may be helpful in determining your needs and scoping your brief, to compare quotes (apples with apples) and decide on the right service provider.
- There are traditional news media,
- social media,
- and other electronic channels such as your own website, blogs, electronic newsletters and WhatsApp groups.
- News and social media often converge – news stories are tweeted and these tweets and Facebook posts become news stories. Media channels – both local and international – also use FB to announce their headlines and many people now get their news coverage from their FB feed.
- You can monitor your own channels in terms of comments, questions or feedback from the target audience.
- You can also track comments on your owned social media platforms (owned sites such as FB, Twitter, Instagram.)
- To keep track of comments on your owned channels as well as all the others in the traditional – newspapers, magazines, radio, television and online – and social media environment can use a specialised agency to search with certain key words you choose.
- You can also track what your competitors are doing.
- You could choose and limit the geographic footprint of your search.
- You may want to read, listen to or view the coverage.
- You may want an analysis of the coverage i.e. whether it is neutral, negative or positive; which key words came across more often, which media carry the most news about you and which journalists write about you.
- The more information and analysis you want and the larger the geographic coverage area you want to monitor, the more expensive the service.
- Are you monitoring & replying to comments on your website, newsletters, WhatsApp groups for feedback?
- Are you monitoring your own social media platforms for feedback?
- Are you monitoring the traditional news media?
- What do you do with the feedback?
- How much would you like to know about the media coverage you receive? What exactly would you like to know? What would be useful and help you plan or respond?
- Do you want a monthly, weekly or daily review? Do you want instant alerts for negative news coverage?
- What geographic area is most important for you – in terms of your customers, clients and key stakeholders? – your town, your city, your province, other provinces, South Africa? Is it important to know about occasional overseas news coverage?
- Do you want someone to interpret the results for you – whether it is positive or negative? What other trends or analysis would be helpful?
- Who will receive it? What will you do with it and how would you use it?
- Do you have a priority list? What would you like to know now and what at a later stage?
- What budget do you have available?
Whatever you track, monitor and analyse must relate back to your communication and marketing strategy – who am I, what do I provide, how would I like customers and stakeholders to see and experience me? How do I differentiate and position? Am I on track, not succeeding and how do I correct what is wrong? Mirror, mirror, on the wall…………….