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27th November 2019
Signal Editors

Conducting competitor analysis with a media monitoring tool

Competitor analysis is the process of tracking your competitors and analysing their performance. Which seems self explanatory. But it covers a multitude of sins, including: tracking your rivals’ keywords and campaigns, benchmarking your organisation against those you want to stay ahead of, tracking perception of them in real-time, and uncovering trends.

Fundamentally, this is so you can benchmark your own successes. Whilst also seeing where your competitors are performing well (maybe even better than you) and where they are dropping the ball. (Yipee!)

Here we run through what competitor analysis amounts to, why it is important, and why conducting your competitor analysis with the help of a media monitoring tool will drastically improve your PR strategy.

Identify your competition

If you haven’t already, the first thing to do is to identify your competition. These are the top performers in your industry, whether that’s big corporations or challenger brands. Ultimately, the businesses that compete both directly and indirectly with your brand or potential entrants to your sector/industry.

So, when it comes to conducting competitor analysis knowing who your competitors are is a great place to start. As they say, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Check industry publications and the social platforms of industry influencers – who is being written about within your industry and where? And if in doubt, your Product Marketer or Sales Enablement team will know all too well who your organisation is in direct competition with.

However, identifying who your competitors are is only the first step. To conduct true competitor analysis, you have to know and understand them inside and out, which can be a task and a half. But with media monitoring and media intelligence tools, it is easier than ever to learn about the successes and failures of your competitors.

This knowledge will then give you the advantage and allow you to outperform them.

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Collect the right PR data

You’ve identified your competitors and have started collecting information on them. But how do you know what PR data to collect and whether any of the data you’ve collected so far is right?

This is a problem that has plagued PR professionals since the dawn of PR measurement and competitor analysis. There is a high volume and huge range of metrics that you can track in relation to competitors. An efficient way to tackle this issue is to invest in a media monitoring tool that provides insights and data visualisations. The dashboards on these platforms will allow for a deeper understanding of your competitors.

Once using a media monitoring tool like Signal AI, you can set up individual feeds and searches for your competitors. This will indicate whether they are:

  • Being discussed a lot online
  • Talked about more or less than you
  • Perceived negatively or positively.

This enables deep-dive analysis and drilling down into what is and isn’t working, and the reasons why. This information can help drive change in your own organisation, from influencing the PR strategy to even feeding directly into the Product Roadmap.

Conducting competitor analysis

So you’ve identified your competitors, started collecting information about their media coverage (and the right PR data to boot). But what next?

Here are some ways you can collect competitive intelligence with a media monitoring tool. Methods that were previously inconceivable with manual competitor analysis processes.

Share of Voice (SOV)

One of the most important and useful aspects of competitive intelligence is Share of Voice (SOV). This manual calculation is the measurement and benchmarking of your prominence in the media. Allowing you to understand the percentage of media coverage attributed to you in comparison with your direct competitors. And in any sector, it’s a great way to ascertain your authority and the cut through of your key messages.

Share of Voice is calculated with a simple manual equation (your mentions/competitors mentions x 100 = SOV). The best, and most efficient, way to do this calculation is to conduct individual searches for each competitor. Then delve into the calculation and comparison.

This allows you to build an extensive overview of your competitive landscape. So you can accurately calculate market Share of Voice (SOV) and evaluate your percentage. And as a measurement approach, it also enables you to further drill down into the data to gain valuable insights. Both into your SOV on a macro (entire industry) and micro (specific sectors within your industry) level. With the option to enhance SOV analysis with additional layers of topics, locations, and more.

So, the more searches you can do, to intensively scrutinise your competition across locations and topics, the better. Unlimited searches, when investing in a media monitoring tool, is the key to success for competitor tracking.

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Locations and markets

As mentioned in relation to Share of Voice (SOV), you can further segment your competitor analysis by geographies. You can track the cut through of your key messages in different locations; whether you’re established in a different region or are currently expanding. And importantly, the cut through of your competitors messages in different locations. As being able to interrogate your geographical presence within a competitive context is absolutely invaluable.

Do you have better cut through in the US? Is your primary competitor domineering the market Share of Voice in the City of London? Which of your operating regions is the weakest in terms of influence? And are your competitors strong there?

This form of geographical tracking will optimise the calculation of your market Share of Voice (SOV). For example, different topics can be associated with a specific area, city, or country when tracked. To illustrate a potential use case, a British headquartered bank would benefit from localising some of their media monitoring and searches to ‘City of London’, ‘London’, and ‘England’, to measure SOV in comparison to competitors on a macro local level.

Armed with this information you can redirect your PR and marketing strategies to focus on that, or another, location. Working to develop your brand into a thought leader in the market as a whole, but also in desirable pockets of regional influence.

Sentiment analysis

Knowing how much your competitors are mentioned in the media and their Share of Voice (SOV) is all well and good. But none of it is worth a jot if you don’t understand the sentiment of the coverage they’re receiving.

One organisation may be dominating an entire industry, but if the majority of the press is negative you’ve got something to work with. So, what is sentiment?

Sentiment is a notoriously tricky metric to measure. Defined as the tone of the media coverage about, featuring, or mentioning an organisation; this measurement metric enables you to quantify whether associations with brands are positive or negative. Both your own and your competitors, hence why it is such an important competitor analysis metric.

Historically, sentiment has been measured manually and open to human error. A poor junior PR would read every piece of media coverage to ascertain whether it is positive, negative or neutral. This is a laborious process many wouldn’t wish upon their worst enemy, let alone a fresh faced and enthusiastic PR. Hence, it was rarely undertaken as a part of competitor analysis. Measuring your own sentiment was time consuming enough.

But with the advent of AI-powered media monitoring tools that automatically detect sentiment, sentiment tracking should be a fundamental aspect of your competitor analysis.

So whether you want to keep your finger on the pulse of public perception, or you need to evaluate how a recent product launch by a competitor has affected the public’s judgement of them, sentiment analysis is an absolute must. Being able to measure this is incredibly important in understanding the competitive context in which you operate in and how it impacts your brand reputation.

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Talking of sentiment of media coverage…

Another way you can track how your competitors are doing is by keeping tabs of the quality of coverage they receive. Especially in comparison to the coverage you are receiving yourself. Analysing the different types (digital or print) and tiers of coverage you can more accurately determine the brand reputations of the organisations operating in your industry.

Different brands may have different ways of categorising their media coverage. But generally speaking, tier 1 is the big shot publications. Think Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, etc. Establish your own list of tiered publications and apply these as reading lists in your media monitoring tool.

You may be used to receiving tier 2 coverage. But if your competitors are consistently hitting tier 1, it’s a sign to go back to the PR drawing board. With this level of information you can benchmark yourself and improve your PR strategy and get proactive with your outreach!

Spokespeople

Finally, by conducting competitor analysis using a media monitoring tool you can easily keep track of spokespeople. Both your own and your competitors, to add another dimension to the measurement of your message cut through.

Like with so many aspects of media monitoring and competitor analysis this has only really become possible with the advent of AI-powered media monitoring tools. With a tool such as Signal AI, you can keep tabs on a media facing spokes people and really delve into analysis of competitor spokespeople with quote detection.

Measuring where and how your competitors are being quoted as trusted voices – or quoted in times of crisis – can inform every aspect of your PR strategy. From how you write and send out spokespeople quotes in press releases, to media training with executives.

Improving your PR strategy

Fundamentally, conducting competitor analysis is one of the most important parts of a PR strategy. No one operates in a vacuum and how you position yourself within your competitive landscape is paramount.

Competitor and industry analysis help you understand your competition’s activities and the trajectory of the industry. This competitive intelligence allows you to plan ahead. Assuring that you won’t be left behind by giving you a helping hand in establishing your reputation.

By tracking your competitors with an AI-powered media monitoring tool, you are empowered to:

  • Put new PR goals in place (media coverage, quality of coverage, sentiment, etc)
  • Learn from competitors by emulating PR techniques
  • Report successes by continuing to track and benchmark.

And there’s nothing wrong with gathering a bit of market intelligence now, is there?