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The technology tools available to PR professionals and agencies have improved by leaps and bounds over the last few years. PR Software has evolved to meet the demands of an increasingly complex media landscape and changing public appetite for information on new channels. It’s wonderful that PR pros now have a plethora of options to consider, but choosing what’s right for your brand or agency can be a bit overwhelming. We thought it might be helpful to compare a few of the available possibilities. Today, we’re focusing on media monitoring companies. We'll do an apples to oranges (to... banana?) comparison.
First, just a quick explanation of what we mean by media monitoring. Media monitoring is the systematic process of identifying, tracking and analyzing published content related to particular keywords, usually including a brand, its competitors and related industries. Given the amount of content that now resides on the internet, for most brands, media monitoring is primarily an online activity. Media monitoring has a few core goals:
- Measure the success of the brand’s PR efforts
- Monitor competitors
- Track industry trends
- Identify relevant influencers and journalists
Mention Alert Services
Mention alerts services are media monitoring companies that simply look for a keyword to be used and provide an alert, usually via email or an online portal, whenever the term is used on the channels they monitor. The best example of these is Google Alerts. The advantage of these services is that they are often free or very low cost. The disadvantage is that they apply no logic to the alerts. Every mention is treated as if it were as important as every other. This can lead to PR pros feeling like they are drinking from a fire hose of alerts and missing important information, because of all the noise.
Media Monitoring with Basic Analytics
Some media monitoring companies provide simple media analysis in addition to alerts. This may include assigning sentiment to content (positive, negative or neutral). It may also include trend tracking, historical reporting and some reach analysis. Brands and agencies that use this type of solution will spend less time culling through content than with a mention alert service alone, but the level of analysis is not sophisticated.
Comprehensive Monitoring with Analytics and Reporting
PR professionals who need to provide an in-depth examination of the impact of PR on their brand and those who are looking to rapidly amplify visibility turn to a more comprehensive monitoring service that can provide big-data analytics and robust reporting. This type of service is also chosen by agencies that want to white label reports and provide clients with an ROI breakdown. The most sophisticated of these solutions allow users to generate custom dashboards aligned to exactly what they want to monitor. They include rich graphics and eliminate the otherwise tedious task of PR reporting. In addition to helping track what has happened, the best of these solutions improve future PR performance by calling attention to story trends and influential authors. They identify the most impactful content by considering things like readership, publication tier, unique visitors, and keyword placement.
So while simpler tools might be a good fit for some situations, comprehensive monitoring is the gold standard in this type of technology. Brands and agencies should give due consideration to their options when considering media monitoring companies and select on that will provide adequate capabilities based on their specific needs.