Monitoring the media for industry trends has become an increasingly difficult task due to the emergence of hundreds of new digital media channels and the ease of content consumption powered by the smartphone. According to the 2019 Global Comms Report, when it comes to creating new content for campaigns, over half (53%) of communications professionals referenced their biggest challenge as determining what content is most effective.
This digital news boom has created a “needle in the haystack” environment where PR professionals are stuck combing through endless amounts of news clips, searching for any insight that will help to drive more engaging campaigns. More importantly, modern PR and communications professionals need to be able to properly showcase which messages are resonating with target audiences to prove the overall value of a campaign.
So, where does the modern comms professional begin? Read on to find out.
Setting Goals for Success
It all starts with goal setting. Without a clear understanding of your objectives, it becomes very difficult to prioritize the data that matters. A couple of questions to ask as you go through this process:
- Is the focus of your competitive reporting daily, weekly, quarterly or yearly?
- How well do your messages resonate with your target audience?
- What impact do your reports have on the rest of the organization?
Understanding what you are trying to accomplish will guide the data stories that you need to be telling. In essence, proper goal setting serves as a map to help find that needle in the giant haystack.
Choosing the Right Media Monitoring Tool
Many software tools have been developed in recent years to help PR and comms solve this challenge. Some tools even come at no cost, like Google Alerts. As a supplemental tool, Google Alerts can be a useful resource to help assist with monitoring efforts, but it’s not a solution that any professional with a company reputation to protect and grow should be reliant upon.
As mentioned in this article by Search Engine Land, it is also important to keep in mind that a free service like Google Alerts can often lack the sophistication and security of service that specializes in monitoring the news. Sophisticated monitoring platforms mine thousands of publications and well-known websites, avoiding potentially harmful articles and malicious links that can be used for spamming and malware.
When thinking about gaining mindshare over competitors you first have to identify the current state of the landscape. You need a tool that is going to be able to first and foremost, identify and categorize news by the different entities that you are trying to compare. Ultimately, you are going to want to build visual data to show over time how your teams are either gaining market share or identifying trending threats or potential bottlenecks. This means being able to report on your data with flexible date ranges and output manners in a simple, easy-to-use dashboard.
How to Gather Data for Better Reporting
Next, telling better data stories means clearly depicting your team’s efforts over the course of year-over-year or month-over-month campaign success. You must also be able to visualize and share that data with key stakeholders in their preferred format. For example, let’s say your boss needs a month-over-month report on the competitive landscape, but your CMO wants a year over-year-report broken down by sentiment. Are you able to do that in a quick and effective manner with the tools you currently have?
Another thing to keep in mind when gathering data is to make sure that your team has access to all the appropriate mediums. Many monitoring solutions have the ability to listen for online, social, print and even broadcast news, sometimes all in one platform. But as earned media becomes increasingly visual, the image-based content that communicators use to tell their story is becoming an increasingly valuable asset. Most comms teams don’t take into account the value of analyzing visual earned media. Why is this? Simply because they don’t know how.
Most listening tools don’t have the sophistication to be able to track an image’s lifetime value across the entire web. By tapping into these kinds of insights, comms teams can start to understand what images are being published most often and are seeing the most visibility. More importantly, this helps you track what kinds of audiences are most viewing your images, leading to demographic insight that not only helps your future campaigns but also begins to make your work stand out and become important to the paid and owned sectors of marketing. Overall, being able to report on this kind of data brings a lot more leverage for you PR and comms teams when discussing marketing efforts as a whole.
These are just a few of the powerful examples of how to start telling better data stories to provide better reporting across the organization. Read the Ultimate Media Monitoring Buyers Guide to get a full breakdown of choosing the right monitoring tools that fit your team’s goals and needs.