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How automotive companies can turbo-charge their media monitoring

What to consider monitoring, and why it’s important

Sector-based monitoring is a good idea for any company looking to build their brand, but it can sometimes be hard to determine where to start. Much will depend on business goals and objectives, but there are a number of broad-based “buckets” of content to consider.

Mentions of your Company

This is the most obvious place to begin a monitoring program; examining mentions of your automotive company. Within this “bucket” of content, there are a number of subcategories to add to your monitoring, such as CEO and other global leadership, regional leadership if applicable, and the full range of vehicle models currently on offer. Depending on the scope of your monitoring program, you may also wish to make certain that any regional model naming conventions are added in your keyword searches.

Tracking routine coverage can identify journalistic areas of interest, which is a big benefit of monitoring. Companies can also use daily monitoring to be alerted to potential crises, where an early warning provides more time to prepare a response and to get out in front of any negative coverage. Indeed, crisis planning is one of the top reasons many brands have monitoring programs in place.

In addition to monitoring for mentions, adding in some analytics is important. Tracking sentiment and the geographical distribution of coverage are two very common elements of routine monitoring. You may also want to consider examining the types of media outlets your brand is securing coverage in, such as broadcast, print, or online—and the reach of those outlets, along with their authority. Mainstream media outlets will have broad reach, while industry publications will have a lower total reach, but high authority.

Sponsorships and Branding Efforts

Tracking the results of sponsorship and branding efforts will help zero in on the value of these opportunities, allowing the company to invest dollars where the greatest returns exist. The automotive sector has a long history of sports sponsorships that go well beyond car racing. In the U.S., Chevrolet is the official vehicle of Major League Baseball (MLB), and also sponsored Premier League football club Manchester United from 2014 – 2021. Cadillac is now the official vehicle of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), a recent change from Mercedes.

These sponsorships represent notable investments for automotive manufacturers and dealers, and not just at the national/professional level—local car dealerships are frequently prominent supporters of youth sports events as well. Using monitoring and analysis to determine the efficacy of these large investments makes sense, and will allow for a deeper understanding of how sponsorships go beyond advertising and help to build brand reputation and consumer engagement.   

Mentions of Competitors

Competitor monitoring can be as general or as detailed as your business goals dictate. One of the most popular comparisons used in competitor monitoring is share of voice (SOV). This is a very straightforward way of comparing the volume of coverage your company receives to the volume received by competitors.

SOV without context is a weak metric, however. If all you are looking at is the volume of coverage and one of your competitors experiences a large recall and the coverage received is negative, that needs to be taken into account—it’s a very different situation than just standard mentions. So, if SOV comparisons are part of your monitoring and analysis of competitors, make sure that you’re also taking at least some time to examine the “why” behind what is driving the volume in any given chart.

In addition to a broad metric, such as SOV, you might want to monitor for specific model comparisons, or to see if certain publications or journalists have a specific focus on a competitor. Details like this will help to refine your outreach and media pitching activities.

Content that impacts Manufacturing and Operations

Monitoring for this type of content can easily become overwhelming, because there are so many aspects of global news and policy that can affect the automotive industry. Topics ranging from pandemic-related supply chain issues, climate policy, labor availability, global unrest, and more can all impact auto manufacturing, daily operations, and sales.

Because there are so many topics and news stories that can have an impact and are therefore worth monitoring, it might make sense to select the issues that are of the most concern. For example, an auto company that is in the process of manufacturing a new line of electric vehicles might want to set up monitoring for topics that could impact the supply chain—such as labor availability in regions where parts are made, with an additional focus on battery issues. Any issues that crop up that could prevent an on-time launch of the line could be managed with advance notice.

This is a key reason to monitor for these types of ancillary topics—they allow you to get ahead of any potential problems and address them before they can impact your brand reputation. Careful, timely messaging addressed to the right audiences can go a long way in lessening the impact of negative events—or prevent critical coverage altogether.

Alternatively, these higher-level topics that come with significant volume may be the right place to engage a firm that conducts periodic reporting and analysis work. A quarterly report divided into sections of interest provides an overview of the status of each area, highlighting how deep the industry impact is without requiring the constancy of daily monitoring of such broad topics.

Content that impacts Public Opinion

Similar to content that impacts manufacturing, monitoring for subjects that might have an impact on public opinion can be very broad. So, while it’s important to be aware of these topics—and the best way to do that is to monitor—you will need to have an approach that allows you to efficiently monitor these areas of interest.

What can impact public opinion? A great deal. Staying abreast of how your brand is portrayed in popular culture, for example, can have an impact on media coverage and sales.

Some issues, such as climate change, may have considerable variability in public perception depending on the region. As this is a global topic with a direct link to the automotive industry, public opinion, particularly as it relates to corporate actions taken by car companies, is worth watching.

Or, consider monitoring how corporate decisions are perceived. Internal actions such as layoffs, the deployment of robotics or AI—particularly if these efforts replace human workers, rather than making their work safer or more efficient—to political contributions or the environmental impact of siting a new facility are just a handful of examples of how monitoring to anticipate public response might be worthwhile to consider.

Identifying mentions that matter

Because vehicles are such an integral part of daily life, separating the mentions that matter to your goals from passing mentions might be critical to doing your job efficiently. For example, if the objective of your daily monitoring is to determine the public’s perception of motor vehicle emissions on climate change issues, you’ll want to make certain your search terms are fairly narrow. News coverage of routine collisions frequently mention the make and models of the vehicles involved—meaning, your volume could be adversely affected by mentions that aren’t relevant to the reason for which you are monitoring.

Even the best-designed keywords can capture more content than you really need, simply because mentions of an everyday consumer product are so frequent. Supplementing automated data collection with human curation can be a valuable time saver and a wise investment.

Automotive manufacturing and sales are global businesses that have a direct effect on the lives of consumers each and every day. The reasons why to monitor are clear: to track corporate reputation, stay abreast of competitive activity, and remain current on what matters to consumers. Choosing how detailed to be when deciding what topics to monitor for, and how deeply and how frequently, will depend on an individual company’s business goals.

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