How to benchmark your media coverage

10.8.19 / 6 min read

Hello again! As we’ve discussed before in this blog series, benchmarking successes and PR measurement are absolutely key. But understanding how and why to benchmark your media coverage, is paramount. Not only to understand the success of your brand, but also how your audiences (and beyond) feel about you.

But there’s absolutely no point shouting about your key messages or spending thousands of dollars on campaigns if you’re then not following up on how well they’ve worked (or not!).

Let’s say you’re a footwear brand. And you’ve gone all in on influencer marketing, spending a large portion of your budget on courting the rich and famous. You’re going to want to see your shoes in the media, at events, on the feet of the fabulous.

But would you know how many times your shoes have been mentioned in the media in comparison to your rivals in the footwear space?

There are many ways you can benchmark your media coverage against your competitors. So to make it a little easier, we break down exactly what you should be benchmarking and why in this article.

Strap in…

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Benchmark your media coverage against your competition

You can benchmark your media coverage and yourself against competitors by comparing the following:

1. Volume of mentions

First up (and a pretty simple one) is the sheer volume of mentions in comparison to those of your competition.

Can you see that your shoes have been mentioned 225,000 times online following a big event where they’ve been papped on a celeb?

That’s great news.

And it’s even better if your competition have only seen 120,000 mentions in comparison. By looking at the volume you’ll be able to see how much you’re being talked about. And more often generally means good. But it can also mean not so good. Make sure you analyse the actual conversation to understand the sentiment!

You might want to start by setting a target of 20% more mentions than your competitor. This would give you a good indication that you’re owning a good market share of voice. You can tweak and adjust your target as time goes on.

So you can be flexible in your expectations as you benchmark your media coverage.

2. Reach

Reach is essentially the breadth of your brand awareness. How many people are being exposed to your brand? This is a tough one to measure, in that it’s usually impossible to know exactly how many people see your messaging.

But there are ways you can start to drill down into it. Social listening is a great way to do this. Especially when used alongside traditional methods – surveys and Google Analytics. (Using GA you can see where your website traffic is coming from.)

But an even better way to benchmark the reach of your media coverage is to utilise a media monitoring platform that offers this level of insight. In the media and the PR and Comms industry, reach is defined as the number of people or size of the audience that an article reaches (if you will).

This data is sometimes made available by publications, but media monitoring platforms like Signal AI collate a provide this information for you.

3. Coverage on Tier 1 media

Getting mentioned in Tier 1 media is good news – but it’s even better if you’re seeing more coverage roll in than your competitors are.

You can measure and benchmark both yours and your competitors’ coverage with a solid media monitoring tool – it’s certainly a lot easier than using old-fashioned coverage books!

When benchmarking your coverage, be sure to dig into the actual coverage itself so you can analyse whether you’re getting more or less positive and negative coverage, as well as sheer volume.

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4. Specific messages and key themes

Have you created campaign and brand messaging that lands well? We all know that this a cornerstone of good, long-lasting brand reputation.

If you’re putting your messaging out into the world, you will want to know how it’s landing. So you can tweak and iterate (or double down, and spread the messaging that you know works in more places!).

Benchmarking your messaging against the competition is one of the most interesting ways of using a media monitoring tool, in our experience. Tracking specific messages and themes of content against competitors over time provides insight into how well you’re perceived.

5. Competition in key regions

Let’s get geographical! (Sung to the tune of Let’s get physical by pop icon Olivia Newton-John.)

Being able to benchmark how you’re performing in different key regions against your competition is essential if you’re covering wide areas.

Your North American competition might be different to your competition in APAC. Therefore being able to track and measure different competitors in different locations is a great way of looking more deeply into your media coverage.

Enabling you to adjust your strategy accordingly, based on actual data.

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6. Top spokespeople

Having a high profile spokesperson is an excellent way to gain column inches. But sometimes, they’ll be stacking up the inches for the wrong reasons.

Take Lance Armstrong, for example. He had a ton of endorsement deals, becoming a spokesperson for a number of massive brands, before his reputation was battered and he was stripped of his Tour de France titles. Not ideal.

So, when benchmarking your media coverage, a key piece of data you’ll want to collate is who your top spokespeople are. Or which of your spokespeople attract the most – negative or positive – attention. (You can even make comparisons to competitors or break it down by geography – see that seamless call back to the last tip!)

Look for a great media monitoring tool that will analyse this for you. Some tools even offer ‘quote detection’, which shows you who is influencing the story.

Monitoring media coverage

OK, so we’ve covered a lot of different ways you can monitor your media coverage and make sure you’re smashing pumpkins and your competition.

But how do you make it simple?

Media monitoring should be quick, easy and insightful but traditional methods can often be the opposite.

When tracking your PR to benchmark your media coverage, you want to achieve multiple outcomes. This can only come from extremely precise searches that exclude irrelevant coverage, ie; you shouldn’t have to worry about having to manually separate apples from Apple™.

You also want an efficient searching experience that isn’t time-exhaustive or unsustainable. Searches shouldn’t take you literal days to build, and they definitely should not have to be continually maintained.

Thanks to revolutionary AI technology, both of these things are possible. Instead of relying on imprecise keyword searches, or clunky Boolean strings, PR professionals are now utilising entities – search terms created using AI.

Signal AI makes all of the above quick and straightforward, so you can easily benchmark your media coverage.

The AI does all the hard work, surfacing your coverage from around the world and analysing the results, leaving you free to focus on optimising your PR campaigns, crisis management, building media relations, performance measurement and your communications strategy.