Matt co-founded TrendKite in 2012 and oversees all aspects of the organization’s product strategy and development.
One of the awesome and also, not awesome, things about PR is that for so long the profession operated in a very squishy, difficult-to-quantify realm where “conventional wisdom” ruled the day, largely because there wasn’t much else to go on. I suspect the number one PR myth of all time is, “Any publicity is good publicity.” It’s certain that Malaysia Airlines, which is considering rebranding after several tragic and well covered disasters, would disagree. So, while there are myths aplenty, today we want to focus on the top myths associated with competitor monitoring.
Myth #1 – Competitor Monitoring is Only for Big Companies
Yes, Coke and Pepsi engage in intense competitive tactic of all sorts, but that doesn’t mean the practice is useful only for big enterprise. Even if your brand is smaller or just emerging, competitive intelligence can give you valuable insight into your market’s landscape.
Myth #2 – You Can’t Control What Your Competitors Do, so Don’t Bother
While it is true that you can’t control your competitors, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them. Knowing which of their messages are attracting attention can help guide your own thinking about what resonates with the market.
Myth #3 – Competitor Monitoring is done to Copy the Competition
In fact the opposite is true. While you may take clues from your competitors about what is engaging audiences or the press, simply copying them puts you in a “me too” position at best. Instead, competitor monitoring lets you take a unique approach to trending topics and to reach influencers with a message that is discordant from the rest of the market.
Myth #4 – Google Alerts are a Great way to do Competitor Monitoring
We can’t tell you how often we see this advice, but it simply isn’t true. Google Alerts are better than no competitor monitoring, but not by much. In fact, because they don’t include any information about the value of a mention and its impact on the brand, they can actually hurt by alerting you to irrelevant message and sending you on a wild goose chase.
Myth #5 – Competitor Monitoring Should focus on Share of Voice
Like Advertising Value Equivalent, Share of Voice is an advertising metric that isn’t perfectly suited for PR. In advertising, you can assume that all sponsored content is essentially equal because advertisers control the content. This simply doesn’t translate to PR. What if your competition got a lot of space because the CEO was dismissed by the board after being accused of sexually assaulting a job candidate at his home? Would you feel disappointed to be left out of that coverage?
Myth #6 – Competitor Monitoring is Just Too Hard
This one might actually be true if you are trying to do it with Google Alerts and spreadsheets. Because it involves active media monitoring, impact analysis, reach metrics and sentiment examination, it is a task far better suited for technology than brute force. Fortunately, the best PR automation solutions tackle the job nicely.
We’ve addresses some myths, but will leave you with one fact. There’s nothing stopping your competition from monitoring you. That’s not a competitive edge you should concede easily.