The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic uncertainty has meant that PR agencies are under more pressure than ever to defend their budgets. And, while money is often tight, client expectations are also at an all time high – as they look for comms experts to help them navigate fast-changing customer behaviour.
This double-edged sword means that measurement and evaluation has become increasingly important too. Indeed, while in the past, agencies have employed a “set it and forget it” approach to media monitoring, the savviest PR leaders now consider it to be a competitive advantage.
So how do PR agencies go about getting the most out of a media monitoring program? Let’s take a look.
1. Monitor what matters
There’s tech out there now to monitor everything, but that doesn’t mean that you should. It can be easy to drown or data or get caught up in looking at ‘vanity’ metrics – those big numbers which don’t directly relate to what you’re trying to achieve. It’s crucial insead to focus on your campaign goals at all times. If your ambition is to increase goodwill towards a product or wider brand, for example, sentiment testing is key. Or if it’s to ‘own’ a particular topic, look at how often your client’s name is associated with it, in comparison with other companies who might be fighting for the same airspace.
2. Put more intelligence into your new business efforts
If you’re already monitoring for a client in a specific business sector, you’ll likely be reviewing content that is either about or would affect other companies in the same industry. This could lead you to potential new clients facing the same challenges, and you can pitch from a position of knowledge and understanding of the industry sector.
Remember that new business doesn’t always have to mean new clients—it can also come from existing clients facing new challenges. Use your monitoring tools to identify areas of interest that can or do have an impact on your clients, and you could be well on your way to expanding an existing client relationship when you show them how you can help them address new issues.
Also crucial is using monitoring to demonstrate your value, putting firm metrics on the impact you’re having on your clients’ business. All too often, PR is viewed as a ‘cost center’ rather than a value creator, and monitoring can have a significant role in addressing this misconception.
3. Build more nuanced relationships with journalists
Media monitoring efforts can also help your team build relationships with journalists and other influencers. By paying attention to bylines that frequently appear in coverage, you can develop a strong understanding of what a specific journalist or influencer cares about, how they cover a story, and you’ll get a sense of the style of coverage they tend towards. If this is made an ongoing process, it can save a lot of time when you go to pitch a story—and make your approaches more likely to resonate with journalists.
The same holds true for influencers—use your media monitoring efforts to learn more about key influencers and you’ll be better positioned to approach them when working with your clients on a campaign. Indeed, we recently ran a webinar on just this topic – if you’re keen to learn more, check it out.
4. Track trends, competitors and so much more
The smarter agencies are also using monitoring to track clients competitors, their own competitors and the industry trends that are shaping the markets in which they work. They look at what content is being consumers, by who, and where, to pinpoint where potential clients and customers are interested in at any point in their buying journey. They understand the journey potential clients follow when looking for information on a particular topic, too, so that their messages can be seen in multiple places, by the same group of people they want to influence.
So, the most important part of maximizing your media monitoring efforts is to think outside your “normal” uses for media monitoring. If you’re just using monitoring to track your efforts on behalf of your clients, that’s only part of the picture. You should consider tracking the efforts of competitors—either your clients’ or your own. You can also monitor to track stories that are emerging that might make for a good springboard for a pitch.
Maximizing your media monitoring, and engaging with a partner who can help, will allow you to get the most out of your efforts. And, the beauty of the ideas outlined above is that most won’t take a huge amount of time to set up, or conduct on a regular basis—and the rewards for a small amount of effort can be significant. In our next piece we’ll take a more in-depth look at what, and how, to measure – so do keep your eyes peeled for this.
This Article was written by Gareth Owens. His experience is gleaned from over 20 years helping clients make sense of the evolving media and communications landscape. During this time, Gareth has led on social and mainstream media monitoring and evaluation programs, social listening and horizon scanning initiatives for literally hundreds of organisations across the USA. His speciality is helping organisations ensure that their monitoring, evaluation and social listening programmes remain fit for purpose.