November 29, 2023
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8 mins

The marketer’s guide to media monitoring

Media monitoring is the process of gathering, tracking, and evaluating information about your brand from a variety of media sources. Here’s how to get started.
Communications

Picture this: It’s 1879, and you’re a media professional. 

Your client, Thomas Edison, is frantically working on inventing the lightbulb and has to go to market before any other competitors get in his way. Your job is to flip through endless newspapers and journals to make sure that your guy Thomas is still on track to make history. The light bulb drops, everyone loses their minds, and now you can scour newspapers by bulb light, not just candle light. 

This is—albeit an archaic version of it—media monitoring. 

Media monitoring, also known as media tracking or media analysis, is the process of gathering, tracking, and evaluating information from a variety of media sources ranging from newspapers and magazines to social media to blogs, and beyond. 

“In today’s fast-paced news cycle, it’s critical to stay up to date on stories about your client, their industry, and adjacent categories,” says Brooklyn MacKenzie, Senior Account Supervisor from HUNTER PR. “Media monitoring helps you to make more strategic recommendations based off current conversations and can inform creative thinking. If marketers aren’t aware of how their client is being talked about in the media, they can’t take advantage of opportunities or correct misunderstandings, both of which can lead to a larger business impact,” MacKenzie said. 

Ultimately, media monitoring is the main way to gauge what’s trending in your industry. In this 24 hour news cycle world, the need to constantly be up to date on the media landscape is very real. And when it comes to building brand reputation, media monitoring is a must. 

Benefits of media monitoring

The advantages of incorporating media monitoring into your marketing strategy include staying on top of real-time insights, competitor analysis, market research and brand awareness, and ROI measurement. Let’s dive into some real-world examples of how the benefits of media monitoring can strengthen your comms strategy. 

Real-time insights

Real-time insights are all about using information as soon as it’s available to answer questions, predict trends, better understand relationships, and everyone’s favorite—automate processes.

As co-founder of creative agency NASTY/CREATIVE, I’ve leaned on real-time insights to see around corners. For a project with Under Armour, I knew I wanted to get some press in publications that were poised to cover news about NFTs (Under Armour was releasing a digital wearable sneaker in collaboration with Steph Curry), and through consistent monitoring to see how the beats of different publications were expanding to cover NFTs, I was able to predict which outlets were mostly likely to bite. 

The result? An exclusive piece in a relevant publication on the day of the launch. 

Sounds like a 3-point jump shot at the buzzer to me. 

Competitor analysis

Competitor analysis allows you to keep tabs on your competitors, including their strategies, customer sentiments, and market positioning. 

This information helps you make informed decisions and stay competitive. 

For a client I worked with, dating app Chorus, I spent hours every week staying abreast of other up-and-coming dating apps. In addition to monitoring other new applications entering the space, I wanted to know what the big league players like Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble were doing. Chorus is a dating app that allows friends to swipe for their friends. Since this was a unique idea, I wanted to make sure our positioning reflected that throughout all of our campaigns and activations. Keeping all of our competitors top of mind through media monitoring, I could ensure our messaging and marketing activities reflected how unique the product was in a pretty saturated space. 

Proactive comms 

You can proactively manage your brand’s reputation by identifying and addressing negative mentions or criticisms. 

Timely responses can mitigate damage and enhance your brand’s image. In case of a crisis or PR issue, media monitoring provides early detection. This allows you to respond swiftly and effectively, minimizing potential damage to your brand. 

For example, a beauty client of ours was super excited to see that last spring, Lizzo had shared her reviews of a top-selling product of theirs on her own personal TikTok page. We shared her post, sent her a thank you gift, and were ideating on other ways to work with Lizzo down the road. Before we even had the chat to move any of those ideas forward, our team started seeing posts on TikTok about Lizzo’s alleged conduct towards her dancers. We immediately alerted our client and of course decided to pivot away from anything Lizzo-related. This quick thinking would not have been possible if we weren’t checking social media for any changes to the landscape.  

Market trend forecasting

Media monitoring can also help you gain insights into market trends, consumer preferences, and emerging opportunities. 

This data definitely aids in making informed marketing and business decisions. Increased visibility and engagement with your brand can lead to improved brand awareness and recognition, ultimately driving more leads and sales. 

ROI measurements

You can measure the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing efforts more accurately by analyzing the impact of media mentions and engagement on your business outcomes. Understandably so, this is something that most clients will want to see sooner rather than later—they want to know their money is being allocated properly, and we also want to know our strategy is working. Providing your client with regular reporting to indicate any ROI is a great way to present your work’s value. 

With all of that in mind, it’s time to implement media monitoring into your practice if you don’t already. Building out an effective media monitoring strategy around your brand is key. 

Getting started with media monitoring

Define your objectives and key metrics

What are you hoping to gain from media monitoring? Key metrics or KPIs that you can use to monitor the success of your efforts include sentiment analysis, engagement metrics, reach, and customer feedback. You can also spend time delving into advanced strategies like sentiment analysis, influencer tracking, and crisis management. 

“When building a media monitoring strategy, it’s important to understand your objective and narrow your search to meet that objective. It’s not feasible or efficient to think you can monitor all news outlets around the clock against 10 different topics,” says MacKenzie.

“Another key component of your monitoring strategy is the resulting action. As you’re monitoring coverage, are you looking for journalists to pitch? Trying to identify cultural trends for your client to participate in? Gauging consumer sentiment against a specific topic? And once you’ve identified your intended action, how are you measuring it? These questions bring purpose to monitoring,” she continued. 

Pick the right tech stack, and let AI elevate your workflow

Utilizing media monitoring tools is crucial to not losing your mind when it comes to media monitoring. 

Tools like PRophet Monitor, Cision, or Brandwatch are table stakes for your media monitoring tech stack. These are the tools that help you gather all of the relevant news and mentions about your brand and industry, based on parameters that you set (more info on how to set parameters just below this section). 

PRophet Monitor, for instance, is a machine learning–powered tool that helps marketers create a set of personalized alerts across a variety of media channels. By combining a series of keywords, organizations, and people, PRophet Monitor will organize the world wide web into easy-to-consumer digests that keep you abreast of what’s going on in your brand’s world. 

Influencer tracking and sentiment analysis tools are a critical piece of the puzzle as well—this is where something like PRophet Influence can come into play. As important as combing through press for mentions and trend information is keeping an eye on how your brand is being talked about on social media. Tools like PRophet Influence or Hootsuite allow you to triage comments on your posts (and others) to stay on top of the conversation around your brand. 

Ultimately, you want to make sure that whatever tools you bring into your stack are already using AI—or have it baked into their roadmap for the near future. 

AI and machine learning have already elevated countless media monitoring tools, by customizing reports better, filtering noise that one would otherwise have to sift through, providing accurate trend detection, and categorizing everything in a more streamlined way. You can explore practical examples showcasing how these cutting-edge techniques can elevate and optimize marketing strategies for better outcomes. Don’t miss out on the ways that AI is helping comms pros level up to become communications engineers. 

Set monitoring parameters (and a data delivery schedule to keep you honest)

Once you have your tools in place, it’s time to set up your monitoring parameters: What are your keywords, hashtags, or topics of interest? For example, with the Under Armour/Curry Brand campaign, we used keywords and phrases such as “nft wearable,” “nft metaverse utility,” “web3 sneaker,” “nft adidas” etc. This is the time to cast a wide net so you can collect the max amount of information about your industry’s landscape. 

Choosing relevant sources and establishing alert systems is key to actually making this information actionable. This way you can make sure you don’t miss anything—and also can keep you from spending a lot of time sifting through the online equivalent of junk mail.

Once those steps are done, it’s time to create a data collection schedule. Whether your team is tiny or large, it’s important to decide on the frequency of reporting to hold you accountable. When working with clients, I typically send out weekly status reports and more in-depth monthly reports—and throughout the month I will update media hits on a weekly basis in a media tracker so the client can pop in regularly to see what’s happening. I prefer to err on the side of more is more, but it’s up to you and your client or team to decide those parameters ahead of time. 

“Most recently, media monitoring has been a key part of our strategy for HUNTER’s longest standing client, TABASCO,” MacKenzie told me. 

“Over the last year, the Sriracha shortage has been widely covered by journalists in top outlets and commented on by consumers via UGC. Many people don’t know that TABASCO makes a Sriracha sauce. Our team has used media monitoring to help identify journalists to pitch and send product to, opened the door for executives to speak on the subject in top outlets, and informed our creative campaigns across social aimed at increasing awareness and purchase intent,” MacKenzie said.

At the end of the day, just go with the flow

Clearly, there’s a lot to work with here. And if you weren’t already implementing some of these tips and tactics don’t beat yourself up about it—this industry is all about being a floating feather. The winds will always be changing and we must be prepared to change with it. Godspeed marketers and media professionals, go with the wind! 

Rula Al-Nasrawi

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