At PR-it, we’re measurement evangelists — there’s tremendous value in tracking the impact of communication activities to report success and course correct if / when required. This post digs deep into one of the most important inputs to communications measurement, ‘media monitoring,’ the process of collating and analysing media articles and reporting trends.

At agencies, junior staffers who often roll their eyes at media monitoring assignments, are mistaken that this task is any less sexy than any of the other public relations activities that are required to inform a successful communications campaign.  Media monitoring requires great attention to detail and a tremendous dose of critical thinking – it’s actually a very intellectual task!

Without the insights derived from thoughtful and thorough media monitoring and/or social listening, measuring impact is not possible and communication strategies may end up being misinformed or misdirected causing expensive campaigns to potentially fall flat. Also, media monitoring is mission critical to issues preparedness and management. If you don’t know how an issue is perceived, how could you possibly recommend a response strategy?

Approaches to media monitoring can vary based on whether its conducted manually or a tool is used to support. So, if you’re thinking of using a media monitoring tool for your media measurement, have a read of our top five tips below to help get you started.

 

Tip 1: Think about where you expect the media coverage to be published

Will the media coverage appear online, i.e. on a news outlets website or via a newswire? If so, this coverage should be available via a Google News search by using a relevant search string with key phrases, but if you expect your news to be published in print media (newspapers / magazines) or in broadcast outlets (TV / radio / podcast), then you won’t be able to access these online and will need to pop out and pick up the paper / buy the magazine or be lucky enough to listen / watch the broadcast clip and record it – unless you use a media monitoring tool to access these pieces for you. Whilst most media monitoring companies will offer a print and broadcast clippings service (e.g. LexisNexis or TVEyes), beware, some will charge you an additional cost per piece of coverage or to add on such a service and others will have a very specific list of outlets they can monitor for, which may not include the outlets that you require. You may also find that some monitoring tools cannot access articles behind a subscription or pay-wall. So, if you’re monitoring for specific outlets or know that your coverage is likely to appear in print or broadcast media, then always check if the monitoring service can pick these up and whether they’ll charge you extra for doing so.

 

Tip 2: Consider how many articles you expect to be published

If it’s up to 10 online articles or social media posts per day or up to 50 per week then conducting a manual search could be a viable option, but social media can become high volume really quickly, and then you’ll find a media monitoring tool will come in very handy. This also depends on the size of your healthcare communications agency team, if you have a few hands to the pump then searching for and collating a larger volume of articles / posts / clippings could be possible, but if there’s only a few of you, a media monitoring tool might be a more efficient option.

The benefit of media monitoring tools is that they can search 100’s or 1000’s of media articles / social posts / broadcast clips, collate them in one place and present them in a simple format (normally a scrollable list of articles with a summary of what the piece includes and a link to the coverage itself). Some tools, like Talkwalker also include the number of people the news has reached, the sentiment of the piece, which of your key messages it includes and how many people have engaged with it – see example image from Talkwalker below:

Talkwalker for media monitoring

 

Tip 3: Find out if all your media coverage will be published in English

If you’re conducting media monitoring for a company based in the US or UK and only looking for articles published in the US or UK outlets, then you may find a Google News search is sufficient to identify a large proportion of your coverage. However, if the coverage is likely to appear in multiple countries and in local languages then a media monitoring tool could be vital.

Check which countries / languages are required and find out from the media monitoring supplier if they can pick-up news in those countries. Talkwalker for example captures media coverage from over 150 million sources (print, online news, broadcast, forums, etc) and 20 social media channels in 187 languages across 196 countries – so chances are they’ll source the articles you’re looking for!

But now that you’ve got the coverage, how do you go about translating it, so you can analyse it? Well, certain media monitoring tools will do that for you too. Some have an inbuilt capability that means when you click on the article it automatically pops up in Google Chrome, which translates the page for you. Pretty clever, right?

 

Tip 4: Decide what you need to measure / analyse

Do you need to count the number of articles and capture where they have appeared or do you also need to measure share of voice (i.e. the amount of coverage a company has achieved versus competitors), capture local language articles, track the number of people your news has reached and which spokespeople have talked about it? Also, if you have a social media component to your PR plan (which you probably do) and need to track engagement with the content, remember to understand the level of analysis provided by the media monitoring supplier. In our experience, this can vary significantly between suppliers, and in some cases, they may not be able to share social media posts beyond the monitoring platform itself.

So, how you plan on analysing your media coverage will determine which media monitoring tool to use. Some tools, like Talkwalker, cleverly analyse data in a multitude of ways, depending on how you set it up and what you ask it to do. When we used Talkwalker for a client, we could report the number of media articles per quarter, how many people we reached, what countries the coverage appeared in, how many of our key messages were captured, sentiment of the articles and much more. But you may not need all this data, so it’s worth agreeing upfront what is needed to measure and then look into various tools to see which ones can do this for you. If you would like to know more about what we learned using Talkwalker, then check out this blog post.

 

Tip 5: Agree how you need to report the data

In addition to data analytics, media monitoring tools can present data in a number of visually engaging ways, such as a dashboard. Dashboards use graphs to compartmentalise results by metric and show evolution of the data over time. You can set up dashboards with the graphs / metrics that you want to populate each time you need to show the results to a client or team, which not only helps with consistency but could significantly speed up the reporting process.

Another popular media monitoring company called Meltwater, who you may be more familiar with as a media database company (for those of you who have conducted a media sell-in or tried in vain to find a journalists email address online!), prides itself on its dashboard capabilities. Within the Meltwater platform you can create shareable dashboards that capture a multitude of analytics, but you can also measure advanced social media metrics, which seems unique in this field. Meltwater also has a mobile app, which means you can easily access the data on your phone – handy if you’re out and about or part of a virtual PR agency, and not based in an office.

The thing is, the monitoring tools only give you the data – in the end, you always need to conduct the analysis manually to generate insights. This is why we always recommend creating bespoke dashboards for our clients – so they get all the insights in a digestible format, so both they and their executives can make decisions.

Hopefully, the tips we’ve shared above will help you to ensure that the next media monitoring tool you use, is the right one for you!

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