How to do media monitoring and answers to key questions

Media monitoring is a fundamental tool in the armory of any organization or business, whatever its aims or goals.

Media monitoring allows you to track topics relevant to your organization and industry across print, online, and broadcast media output. To ensure long-term success and become a household brand or big player in your industry, you need to keep track of what’s happening around you. To see a crisis emerging and protect your business from any impact on its reputation, you’ll need to monitor the media.

Communications teams are at the frontline of media monitoring, but what is monitored and what is done with the results affects the whole company.

Done well, media monitoring contributes a huge amount to delivering on business goals by providing insights on competitors, industries, and the relevant wider world, as well as insight into the effectiveness of communications campaigns. Media analysis is the next step on from media monitoring and it provides more thorough and useful insight.

Media monitoring that provides actionable insights requires intuitive tools and an understanding of what needs to be monitored. It also needs the right processes to ensure these insights are analyzed and acted on quickly when required.

Media monitoring involves:

  1. Listening across a broad range of media platforms (including social media)
  2. Gauging the sentiment of the audience’s reaction to communications
  3. Using the insight to shape and develop campaigns and responses aligned to business or organizational objectives.

Here we cover a number of key questions regarding media monitoring including:

Signal AI users make the most out of media monitoring for the whole organization. Find out how to take media monitoring to the next level in our eGuide.

What is media monitoring and analysis?

Media monitoring is the actual process of scouring media for relevant coverage. In today’s world, that means scouring the fast-moving worlds of social media and the internet as well as traditional media and broadcast.

Analysis, on the other hand, is two-pronged. It is both:

  • quick analysis which is required to ensure opportunities or threats presented by articles or online chatter are quickly acted upon where appropriate.
  • slower, more measured analysis of the impact of PR. For meaningful insight, this goes beyond the reach, page clicks, and number of cuttings achieved and addresses what all of those things actually meant for your business, and how they align with the objectives of your organization.

Media monitoring can be costly, time-consuming, and overwhelming without the right tools as there is now so much output to keep abreast of on a second-by-second basis. Appropriate media monitoring software is necessary and makes this task possible.

AI is revolutionizing media monitoring, offering a method to scan the endless stream of data from media and social media and highlight output that requires attention or that presents an opportunity. It frees communications professionals to do the work that really matters in terms of setting out strategy, making decisions on how to deliver on that strategy, and shaping tactics for delivery.

Media monitoring enables comms teams to successfully manage a brand’s reputation. Find out how to do it more proactively from expert Stuart Thomson.

How do I monitor media coverage?

The ‘how’ of media monitoring involves finding the right tools to offer the breadth of monitoring you require and reporting in a way that is accessible and actionable.

You need to be aware of media that mentions your search terms, be able to assess quickly how important it is and whether it either requires action or creates an opportunity.

Monitoring media coverage begins with the question “what should I monitor?” The answer is best achieved in collaboration with your C-suite and wider business to ensure you get the most value for the organization out of your media monitoring.

Comms teams should go beyond just monitoring for their own brand name and mentions of senior leadership and key spokespeople. Media monitoring is about more than just focusing on efforts to assess brand reputation, while that still has an important place.

For example, media monitoring can be used to highlight:

  • A story in a mainstream newspaper that is couched in negative terms around your brand, which is likely to warrant immediate action and attention
  • A journalist discussing a key industry issue, which stakeholders in your business or organization would benefit from being aware of and comms teams may wish to distribute internally
  • A positive story on the back of one of your PR campaigns that carries its key messages forward, which may just be something to note in preparation for reporting on and analyzing the success of the campaign.

What are media monitoring tools?

Media monitoring tools are the apps, software, and methods used to scour traditional, broadcast, and social media for relevant news, stories, and discussion.

Where once Google alerts, Boolean strings, Twitter alerts, and cuttings services were the only options, now AI has made things more sophisticated.

Often PR & Comms teams focus media monitoring efforts on recording and keeping abreast of mentions of their own brand, what their spokespeople are saying and how that is being received and portrayed. That is important, but only part of the power of media monitoring.

Those who really harness the full potential of media monitoring understand the value to their organization of casting the net wider and keeping on top of their industry, competitors and relevant global or regional news too. This insight can help organizations to:

  • shape their own messages
  • identify influencers and relevant journalists
  • get involved in conversations
  • and help steer them.

Joy Frascinella, Head of PR at Principles for Responsible Investment’s, says media monitoring “really gives you a voice.”

When discussing how to turn media monitoring into intelligence, Joy described the importance of real-time media monitoring and how it allowed her organization to:

  • act quickly to respond to inaccurate and potentially damaging stories
  • identify writers they needed to target with their messaging
  • crystalize its own messaging by assessing competitor output
  • ensure consistency of messaging from its spokespeople across the globe with fast sharing of articles in which peers were quoted or the business message was present.

Find out how the Disasters Emergency Committee uses media monitoring for real-time insights into humanitarian crises is an example of how the role of media monitoring can be far greater than just an assessment and record of PR effort.

What is a media coverage report?

An effective media coverage report is about showing the outcome and impact of communications, rather than just a summary of mentions.

While benchmarking your media coverage is also likely to have some value, a report should demonstrate far more than just a list of vanity metrics such as coverage achieved, click rates, social media mentions, and reach of communications.

It needs to go beyond that into sentiment analysis, both of the coverage in question and the resulting conversations. The next stage is to show what has actually been learned or gained as a result of media monitoring and communications functions. Did your recent campaign get coverage for the right reasons? Has an announcement about a new board member been met with positivity or negativity? How does that compare with your competitors and peers?

Beyond media coverage reporting, a media monitoring report that also provides alerts around the wider industry and related news will add more value to the organization as a whole and allow communications teams to offer real strategic value.

Read our whitepaper on PR measurement on how to deliver present metrics that are closer aligned with business goals.

What is PR monitoring?

PR monitoring is the act of tracking and recording mentions of your brand and key people within your organization.

It’s how comms teams stay up-to-speed with how and where a brand is appearing and to begin the process of analyzing if the sentiment around it is positive and likely to contribute to organizational goals.

Key PR metrics form part of PR monitoring, but comms teams have an opportunity to add further value to their organization by seeing beyond those. Offering deeper insight into the actual impact for a business when its ‘Share of Voice’ is higher than competitors, for example. That can mean liaising with colleagues and other departments who hold different data sets to demonstrate, perhaps, that sales peak when share of voice is high.

Additionally, PR monitoring that stretches beyond the usual, albeit important, function of PR teams to look further into what is going on in the wider world, and the world of competition or emerging markets will provide added value.

As Benjamin Thiele-Long, director of global communications agency Cognito, explained.

“Hits for the sake of it is never going to impress a board or a C-suite but actually understanding the value of why a particular media program was useful, how it leads to sales generation, how it leads to awareness, how it leads to brand value, are all important,” he said.

PR monitoring and specifically reporting can sometimes overwhelm PR professionals and drastically reduce the amount of time available for them to be truly strategic and have real impact. It’s vital to find a method that solves that problem.

Lauren Jane Heller, Director of Communications at venture capital firm Real Ventures, has described how using AI for monitoring was the answer for her. It allowed her to have confidence that nothing would be missed while also creating time for her to redirect her own efforts into more valuable tasks.

Find out how Signal AI customers use AI to enhance their media monitoring.

Why is media analysis important?

For comms teams, analyzing media output is crucial to understanding the sentiment of conversations around your industry and brand, key topics of the moment and the tone of discussions. All of these things are vital not just for assessment of your own communications activities but for the planning of future strategic campaigns, to keep the C-suite well informed, and to spot opportunities and threats.

Media analysis starts with a robust media monitoring system to ensure you are capturing and being alert to all that is being said. Media monitoring itself brings many benefits.

How do you analyze media?

A useful analysis of media to reflect how an organization is perceived needs the foundation of a solid strategy. Goals should be set that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-limited). Without these goals, it’s hard to know what you’re analyzing the media for.

Defining a PR strategy that is aligned to company objectives will lead to making the most out of media monitoring by providing results that can be beneficial to other departments beyond just Comms. But first, you have to select the right metrics to analyze.

Some things to consider when seeking to achieve effective media analysis are:

  • the Barcelona Principles – recognized guidelines for measurement of PR campaigns
  • the necessity to have the media monitoring tools to track social media as well as typical media streams
  • how those insights and analysis can be best used and presented.

It’s vital to have a process for quick analysis to allow immediate response and action where that’s necessary, as well as more long-term reporting to assess the benefits of PR activities and plan future campaigns.

In our webinar on building a global measurement programme, Chichi Osuagwu describes how media coverage reports and M&E frameworks were achieved in her role as Communications Officer at the World Bank Group.

Watch Chichi’s webinar on establishing a global PR measurement framework and learn how to achieve buy-in from multiple stakeholders.

What is broadcast monitoring?

Broadcast monitoring is necessary to have a full and rounded insight into all that is being said that is of relevance to your industry and brand via TV and radio.

In the same way that social media monitoring is as vital as the monitoring of traditional media for communications teams, broadcast monitoring is just as crucial. Without it you can never have a full picture of threats and opportunities and PR campaign achievements will be missed.

What features does a media monitoring tool need?

When seeking a media monitoring tool features to consider include:

  • How many terms/keywords/entities it is possible to track?
  • Does it offer insight into sentiment or just mentions?
  • Is it possible to add and amend search terms quickly?
  • Can you sift and sort results easily to allow focus on specific search terms?
  • Can you convert your findings into meaningful stakeholder reports quickly?
  • Does the tool offer real-time alerts to allow immediate action where required?
  • Is there ongoing support with the functionality of the tool?
  • Is it a comprehensive tool covering broadcast, social and more web output?

What is the best free media monitoring tool?

The most notable free media monitoring tool is Google Alerts. It will return results for simple terms via a regular email. It cannot distinguish between search terms such as ‘apple’ the fruit and ‘Apple’ the brand and can therefore return excessive irrelevant results. It isn’t a real-time tool either. Results are received at intervals and need to be processed to find relevancy and then manually reviewed for sentiment before action can be considered and taken, if necessary. Google alerts will only report on web-based news, not broadcast coverage.

Free tools generally offer limited functionality. As these tools can be time-consuming they often carry hidden costs in terms of inefficiency.

Inefficient media monitoring tools mean more staff are needed to try to keep on top of search results and understand what they mean. Opportunities may be missed due to the overwhelming and time-consuming nature of overseeing what a media monitoring tool has turned up.

An effective tool needs functionality to indicate and sift out the things that most require attention. Similarly, threats may not be responded to quickly enough with free inefficient tools and can escalate if those tools do not help PR and communications teams to identify high importance results.

Signal AI’s platform helps PR & Comms professionals slash the time it takes to perform time-consuming tasks like monitoring key publications or building coverage reports. Other features include:

  • Unlimited accurate searches
  • Real-time alerts
  • Instant language translation of content
  • At-a-glance reporting and tracking
  • Dedicated ongoing support

A number of paid tools offer limited free trials or entry-level packages. Not all cover broadcast, print, and web media coverage. Within basic packages there is often a limit on the number of terms that can be monitored and upgraded to include more can be costly.

For a free trial of our platform, request a demo.

Media monitoring platform

Signal AI is a rounded strategic PR and communications solution providing real-time overview and insight into the world’s print, online, and broadcast media.

It’s a premium media monitoring tool that vastly streamlines the process of keeping abreast of relevant news. It provides valuable insight to support strategic communications, reputation management, media planning, crisis communications, market intelligence, and internal reporting.

AI takes all the hard work and slogs out of media monitoring to allow communications professionals to focus on the things that really matter such as media relations, strategic planning, and tactical steps around reputation and crisis management.

In addition, unlimited search terms and at-a-glance reports – including sentiment insights – allow PR teams to increase their value to an organization by supplying up-to-the-minute industry insight and information to support regulatory compliance.

See how our solutions support our customers.