Most PR professionals understand the importance of media monitoring. In fact, if you examine the history of PR one of the first related businesses to develop was the clipping service. Someone read the relevant publications, mostly newspapers, and literally clipped out relevant mentions and returned them to the company or individual requesting the service. That worked great when there were only a few publications and news didn’t travel very far.
Today, media monitoring is a whole different ballgame. But when we chat with folks, we notice that there are a few old misconceptions that are still kicking around. We hear them from PR professionals, but more often from business executives who might oversee PR, but aren’t close to it on a daily basis. So here are a few things you might want to discuss with your boss.
Misconception #1: Set a few Google alerts and you are good to go.
Google alerts are great. Everyone should use Google alerts. But as you would expect with any free service, there are some big limitations. Google alerts create so much noise that you tune them out. You don’t have the capability to combine keywords or exclude mentions with certain text that makes the alert irrelevant, so you may just end up with an inbox that you want to ignore. With a more tailored alert search, you can pull in 'featured artcles' that are truly about you, or your competitors. And set thresholds about the magnitude of that topic, giving you better insight into the actual amount of news.
Misconception #2: Media monitoring gives you all the data you need to set your PR strategy.
Have you seen the LifeLock commercial that depicts a bank robbery? The customers turn to the guard, expecting him to take action. Instead, he reports that he’s only there to monitor for robberies. “Yep, this is a robbery, he reports.” Stand-alone media monitoring is about as useful. You might detect a mention, but what does it mean? What, if anything, are you going to do about it? To answer those questions you need a lot more information. You need to understand the power of each mention in terms of reach and relevancy. You need to determine if the mention will (or could) have an impact on SEO. Most importantly, you need to put it into the context of the big picture, spotting trends, recognizing message pull-through and tracking sentiment over time. Effective PR strategy really requires a much more sophisticated analytics engine.Misconception #3: You only need to monitor for mentions of your own brand.
We are really surprised how often we see people only looking for mentions of their own brand. This is useful if you are judging PR success on how many earned media mentions you get, but we’d argue that’s not the key to an effective strategy. (See #4) It is also important to monitor your competitors so that you get a glimpse into their market messages and have the opportunity to jump on any coverage they receive. Understanding which journalists and publications they are targeting may help you refine or expand your media contact list. Of course, you want to look out for coverage that is relevant to your industry and customers as well. That’s why a solution that lets you be very targeted in your search is so valuable.
Misconception #4: He with the most mentions wins.
Sally’s Big Software Company had 5 earned media mentions last month. Bob’s Bigger Software Company had 100. Who had the better month in terms of PR success? We have no idea. That depends on whether the mentions were positive, whether they were in relevant publications, whether the most important messages were included, and (most importantly) whether they moved the needle on key metrics like website traffic, lead generation, SEO, and revenue. Sometimes PR pros forget that earned media mentions are a means to an end. The best media monitoring software solutions help PR teams tie mentions to the success factors that really drive the business.
We’ve seen that it has taken some time for the PR industry to adjust to the new digital reality. Media monitoring is as important now as it has ever been, but it is one part of a much bigger and more integrated puzzle. The strategies and tools that modern PR pros use need to be in tune with a comprehensive view of everything that makes up the public’s perception of the brand and how that perception is impacting behavior and driving results.
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