My first PR job came in the form of an internship in the University Affairs office. I was beyond excited on my first day; here I was, a student, and I was getting paid (a very small amount) to work in PR – an incredibly awesome achievement! And it was, at first. I quickly learned that some tasks, like sorting hard-copy press clippings, were dreadfully boring and highly inefficient. I dreamt of a day that the process could be automated, I had no idea how robust and customizable monitoring would become 20 years later - in a world of social media and living online. So much so that today’s technology leads to better public relations, and takes the grunt-work out of simple tasks, when used properly.
PR software offers highly customizable editorial and social media monitoring that makes it possible to think beyond monitoring as a scorecard to measure campaign success. Monitoring your brand’s media exposure is imperative, but if you’re only looking at your own clips and metrics you’re missing out on an opportunity to better understand your brand’s perception in the market, what your competition is up to and your place in your industry. Media monitoring can even be a powerful asset as you plan strategy and it’s an amazing ad hoc research tool.
As I explored this concept I talked with a few agency friends about how they see companies use media monitoring today. From what I gather, many companies simply don’t know about the media monitoring available today, don’t know much about their customizable power and some get too comfortable with the “we’ve always done it this way, why change?” mentality.
“While several companies have invested in technologies and services that provide deeper analysis of their media coverage, some are still relying on simple Excel trackers,” comments Jenna Martin, Account Director for Kaplow PR. “I think it ultimately comes down to available funds and executives’ preferences for receiving measurement information.”
With that, five less conventional yet HIGHLY USEFUL uses of media monitoring:
1. Understand Your Brand’s Perception and Exposure
Using online monitoring to understanding your brand’s exposure in online media allows PR to step beyond simply grading PR efforts; and to rather offer its organization useful business intelligence. With today’s software and a few minutes of work you can access the basics (e.g. recent articles, clip counts, media reach/circulation) and dig deeper to compare your results to your competition, gauge the sentiment reflected in your media coverage, understand where you’re being covered geographically. Sharing this type of brand information is appreciated by virtually every department of a company, offering PR a way to contribute in new ways.
2. Let Editorial and Social Media Monitoring Tools Aid Strategy
If your life in this industry is anything like mine you often find yourself preparing to promote products or services that you wouldn’t have expected. Sometimes you might be pitching a product or service you know little about, which can be a problem. In these cases media monitoring tools are your best friend. Before you can think about campaign strategy you must understand the product/service you’re promoting and a quick look at related media can be a lifesaver.
“Many use monitoring ‘during’ [a campaign] to see the success in real time. However, the more experience I have under my belt, I see the need to begin monitoring as early as possible in the planning process,” adds Michael Goon, Senior Account Executive at FleishmanHillard. “It allows us to gain insight on a topic/industry, provides opinions and view points of influencers, and most importantly – it allows you to predict what will and won’t work, or improve an idea/concept.”
What Michael says is spot on. For example, if your new product is “Widget ABC” you can use your media monitoring tools to search for media about similar products. The articles you find will help you better understand how the media perceives similar products and what media is covering similar items; which will help shape your messaging and outreach strategy.
3. Keep Your Eye on the Competition
Whether we want to admit it or not, most of us can get a bit obsessive about our competition, even though we know it should not be a distraction to our daily work. Watching your competition is a good thing, it can inspire great ideas, encourage you and your team to work harder and sometimes even gives you a good chuckle when they stumble. But a healthy dose of watching the competition should not take significant time out of your day. If you think about all of the people across an organization that spend time looking at competition is begins to make sense for PR to proactively deliver competitive reports to those interested.
Rather than doing daily searches or setting up media alerts through online browsers for each competitor in your space, PR can easily configure its media monitoring software to do the work for the organization; right down to delivering tidy reports. Technology today easily automates the process, and best part of all, you can avoid per-clip fees with some products on the market so you’re not paying extra money to watch the competition.
4. Keep Track of Industry News
Similar to watching the competition, it is important to understand your industry. Watching industry developments not only helps an organization understand your brand’s place, it can help inform product development, media campaigns, acquisitions, finance, and more. For instance, if your in the SAAS business you can easily customize a media monitoring search that will deliver all news relevant to the industry to sales, legal, your CEO, CFO and CMO. This is another example of where PR can step in and offer valuable information and data that is not easily accessed by the teams who don’t have the proper media monitoring tools.
5. Ad-Hoc Research
It used to be that your media monitoring company maintains a list of keywords, brands and people that they monitor for you, and you receive clips based on that set of criteria. Often times you pay-per-clip fee each time they send you a clip. In the good ‘ol days hard copies of these clips were sent and you manually filed them always as appropriate. PR software has changed the game as technology improved; with the right PR software you can eliminate the need to rely on your monitoring service sales rep to maintain a list, you can decide what you search for and alter searches on a whim.
For instance, if your thinking of pitching your new Widget ABC you can set up a search for like widgets and instantly see coverage relevant coverage that helps you understand the media landscape you’re stepping into with your new product. Good media monitoring tools are DIY and allow you to customize of your searches as you please.
Mr. Goon sums it up nicely, he adds, “It’s important to know who’s talking about your brand? Who are the influencers and what are they saying? In addition, monitoring can show how to leverage an event, piece of news or insight to gain positive exposure for a client.”
The list doesn’t stop with my five examples, I’m sure you can think of other brilliant ways to use media monitoring and analytics that I haven’t thought of yet. Drop use a line, we love comments!