Media monitoring and analysis is a bone of contention for many public relations professionals, most of whom outsource this vital service. The spread and speed of communication continue to increase apace. Track too little and you may miss that reputational time-bomb. Buy a big menu and you may find it hard to decide on appropriate action. Which is the right monitoring agency, what analysis should we pay for and what is the risk if we go for a small fee?
There are several options available, but it all starts by developing a clear brief for your needs. Several agencies provide this service as two components: monitoring (tracking and capturing reports, articles, posts and news coverage) and analysing (whether the coverage is negative, neutral or positive, which media platform and journalists give you most coverage, and what the trends are).
DIY options include old-fashioned clippings, and Google searches and alerts, but these tools are labour intensive and no longer adequate for 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. 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.
Whatever you track, monitor and analyse must relate back to your communication and marketing strategy. You need to ask: Who am I, what do I provide, and how would I like customers and stakeholders to see and experience me? How do I differentiate and position myself?
Whatever you decide, remember that if you are unaware of or learn too late about negative publicity and conversations on both traditional and social media, it could cost you dearly in reputation and ultimately, in terms of your bottom line.
Pieter Cronjé is an independent consultant in communication, marketing and business strategy, and adviser to clients of Atmosphere Communications.