The Ultimate Guide to Media Monitoring For Public Relations Agencies

Brittany Berger
Brittany Berger

Media monitoring is such a broad word that it’s hard to take tools seriously when they use words like that to describe themselves.

What is media monitoring, after all?

While media monitoring does involve tracking things, it’s also important to know what to track and how you use that information to your PR campaign’s advantage.

 

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This guide is going to show you how media monitoring helps set clients expectations, identify social influencers and bloggers, find new press opportunities, and help identify problems with your current PR campaign.

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Why do media monitoring for PR?

Media monitoring shouldn’t be a new term for you if you’ve worked at a public relations agency before. Whether you’ve used it to track clients, their competitors, hashtags, events, or even your own agency, they’re common tools for anyone managing someone or something.

Now, even though they’re common tools, they’re not used to their full potential. Most public relations agencies use them for the sole purpose of monitoring brands and completely overlook other uses these tools have.

So why aren’t they taking full advantage of these tools and the information they find? Unfortunately, most agencies aren’t 100% sure what they’re capable of doing with them. Which can be an issue if your agency’s using 3 different tools that can all be done in 1.

But before we get into how monitoring tools can boost your public relations campaign, you should know what functions the ideal media monitoring tool has.

 

Finding the right media monitoring tool

One important thing you should do is consider the types of clients your agency has. If your campaigns use more traditional platforms, such as broadcast and print media, look for tools that monitor them. But since most campaigns today revolve around online media, you should focus on finding a tool that tracks keywords on blogs, news, videos, photos, and social media.

If the tool has an influencer rating, you’ll be able to easily sort the most influential people that mention your keyword. That way you’re not spending hours sorting through your alerts to see which were from influencers and influential sites.

Last but not least, your tool should be able to easily generate and export reports. That way, you’re not wasting time transferring information to another platform.

Boosting you campaign with monitoring tools

There’s no denying that media monitoring tools are excellent for brand monitoring, but it’s important to know what else they’re capable of.

While they do monitor keywords, it’s important to ask yourself what keywords you should track, and how you can use that to your advantage.

 

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Monitoring tools can help your agency by:

  • Finding and identifying influencers
  • Understanding what an audience reacts best to
  • Analyzing competitors and industries
  • Finding new press opportunities

By the end of this guide, you’ll know how to monitor keywords to fuel every aspect of your PR campaign.

Manage Your Client’s Expectations

We all know those clients that have unrealistic expectations.

They’re not wrong for believing in their company, but sometimes their idea of a successful campaign isn’t realistic. In no way is this about not doing your best, it's very much the opposite. This chapter is about reaching an agreement with your client on how well a campaign will do.

Knowing how to set a client’s expectations is crucial if you’re looking to do more business with them in the future. Clients don’t care if you hit a bump in the road, and if you let them think that their campaign goal is realistic, you better get meet it.

To prevent this from happening, you’ll want to show them projections and set their expectations based on numbers. In addition, you’ll want to loop them in with reports throughout the campaign to show that everything’s going smoothly.

Expectation Setting

No executive wants to hear that their company is less important than they think, which is why goal setting can be difficult. That’s why you need to back your statement up with numbers. Before meeting with a client for the first time, make sure to analyze these 3 things to set a realistic goal:

• The client

• Previous campaigns

• Their industry

Doing research on the client and their previous campaigns is important for a few reasons: you see how much coverage they usually get, you get the sense of what people think about them, and you see who talks about them most.

In addition, monitoring the client beforehand helps determine the type of campaign you should run. If most of their mentions are negative, you’ll know that the campaign you run should focus on damage control.

Tracking their industry shows you how many people talk about the topic, giving you an idea of how much more coverage is attainable. Based on the number of outlets that have written about them and their industry, you’ll be able to suggest a realistic goal. And don’t forget to present the data you find to support your proposal.

Listening for Influencers

Now that you and your client agreed on the campaign’s goal, let’s make sure you’re able to keep your end of the bargain.

It’s no secret that people trust third-party opinions over companies themselves. If you’ve never noticed that, ask yourself when was the last time you bought something without looking it up or asking someone about it.

 

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Two types of people you should keep an eye out for are influential bloggers and social influencers. They may not be the traditional outlets you’d contact back in the day, but they’re the ones that today’s consumers trust.

Not only can they boost your client’s brand awareness, they’re also capable of increasing sales and improving your client’s image. Influencers have the ability to shape the opinions of a certain group of people.

They're usually bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers — or just regular people — who have a strong online presence. And partnering up with them can help your clients with specific or niche audiences.

But remember, being popular and influential are different. Both have large audiences, but influencers can engage their audience and make an impact on your PR campaign. Pay attention to how they interact with their followers — that can give you a good sense of the relationship between them.

 

Which influencers should you partner up with?

To find bloggers who’ll bring your campaigns the most value, first think of your overall goal.

Like I mentioned before, different types of influencers have different strengths. Some can increase your client’s brand awareness. Others will generate leads or establish trust. So before reaching out to anyone, ask yourself how they will help reach the client’s goals.

Look at the blogger’s reach. They may be the perfect fit to represent your client, but if they don’t have the audience, how will that help your campaign? But for other campaigns, a tight-knit niche audience could be best.

Next, you need relevance — for the influencer’s audience to care about your product.

 

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Neither party benefits if the audience isn’t a good match. If a client sells cosmetics, you should look at makeup bloggers or vloggers. But for a banking client, start researching business and finance blogs. Lastly, think about what platforms your client wants to reach users on. Bloggers are pretty active on social. If you know what social networks your campaign needs to reach, you can focus on bloggers with active presences on them.

How can you find them?

Now that you’ve figured out what kind of influencer your client needs, it’s time to actually find them.

Monitoring keywords allows you to easily find the perfect influencers with the right characteristics for your campaign. And if your tool has the features I mentioned earlier, it’ll be a piece of cake finding them.

Here are a few ways to research:

Competitors

Take a look at bloggers and social influencers that have spoken about your client’s competitors. They may have just mentioned them because they’re relevant to the industry being covered.

Industry News

Start keeping an eye on industry publications and topics to see which influencers are taking part in the important conversations. Again, you’ll see which influencers cover your client’s niche

Hashtags

Monitor popular hashtags that relate to your client, especially branded hashtags. This will especially help you find bloggers that are already fans and likely to be excited about a partnership.

Clients

See which blogs and social influencers have already mentioned your client. They may be talking about your client already, and partnering up with them will get them even more excited to do.

Track More Press Coverage

Every public relations agency’s #1 goal is to get people talking about their client.

Of course, an agency has the option of planning a publicity stunt, but that can be pretty costly — and not that efficient, if your client isn’t a powerhouse.

One alternative that’s left is getting as many outlets riled up about the campaign. But what do you do if your press list is limited? You research.

Here are four things you should be monitoring to increase your clients press coverage.

Clients

By monitoring your clients, you’ll see who’s talking about them and what they’re saying. But how does that help you get more press?

Simple: knowing who’s covered them also tells you who hasn’t. Surely you’ve been keeping track of all the outlets you’ve been reaching out to. And knowing which journalists or bloggers from your list haven’t responded helps determine who you should follow-up with.

Monitoring also helps find new outlets for future campaigns. From all the press generated from your campaign, there may be some outlets that wrote about your client without you pitching them first.

Keep note of who they are and start building relationships with them now. Send a brief message thanking them for mentioning your client, then add them to the list of outlets to contact for that client.

Tracking your clients shouldn’t be difficult, but if you’re looking to only track specific news, you’ll want to tune your alert to only receive the most relevant news.

Hashtags

Hashtags are everywhere. So if you’re looking for discussions about a topic, you should be able to find them in the hashtag’s stream.

They don’t often come up in articles, but are used in social media a lot. Which makes your life easier when you’re looking to find journalists and bloggers talking about a certain topic on social media.

 

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Since they’re such a popular way to “categorize” articles shared on social media, a hashtag stream can basically serve as a huge media list.

If you don’t know how to get started, research your client’s niche to find relevant hashtags, plus how often they’re used.

Monitoring your client also helps you find hashtags used when people talk about them. Just to track them on social media and keep an eye open for new hashtags or related keywords.

 

Competitors

Everyone knows that quote from The Art of War about knowing thy enemy.

However, this applies to monitoring, since monitoring competitors will also help you find more coverage for your client. If you’re not familiar with your client’s competitors, it shouldn’t be too hard to find them.

Check databases like Crunchbase and platforms like Hoovers — or you can just Google their niche — and you should find them without a problem. Spot the outlets that publish stories about competitors. Find any that haven’t written about your client, but would be a good fit to do so.

They’re your next targets to pitch, since they already know the industry and have an audience interested in the subject. But make sure that you’re pitching something new, not something they’ve written about before.

For example, if they just published a piece about a certain trend your competitor’s following, they’re not going to write about that same idea again right away. So monitoring can help you determine which press ideas are newsworthy.

However, you’ll want to exclude keywords to make sure you only receive the mentions you really want. For example, if H&M were your client, some competitors that automatically come to mind are Zara, Uniqlo, and Gap. Now, if you were only interested in tracking alerts about their clothing, you may want to exclude keywords like “accessories,” “jobs,” “stores,” and “shoes.” That way you won’t receive alerts that mention any of those keywords.

 

Relevant Events

Lastly, you should definitely track events and conventions.

While company reps show up to network and sell, bloggers and journalists are there to report the latest news about the industry. You should know the largest events in your client’s industry, even if they’re not actually attending them.

Knowing who’s covering the event tells you who’s covering the industry. And if you or your client is attending, this lets you see who’ll be there beforehand, so you can pitch your story and try to set up an exclusive interview there.

The easiest way to find events is to search your client’s industry, plus “conventions,” “events,” or “shows.” Once you create a list, check how often people talk about them on social media. This’ll give you an idea of how popular they are and which ones get more coverage. As usual, don’t forget to exclude keywords to filter out the noise that may come with monitoring an event.

 

Listen for Improvements

Campaigns don’t always go as well as they’re supposed to. But it’s your job to find out what went wrong and fix it before the run is over.

Maybe your pitch wasn’t interesting enough to get outlets to cover it or maybe your client just has an image problem. Regardless, you need to find out what’s wrong with the campaign so you can make the needed adjustments.

 

What does the press think?

As a public relations agency, you already know that campaigns usually hit a bump or two. Whether it receives less traction than expected or a big publication makes a big typo, you need to find the problem ASAP in order to fix it. And the quickest way to do that is by tracking its coverage.

Following up with outlets that you reached out to, but didn’t cover your story, is a great way to find out their thoughts on the campaign. So when you’re trying to get a second wave of coverage going, this makes it easy to follow-up on your original pitches.

Whether it was because they aren’t a fan of your client, or they just didn’t think your pitch was that good, you should use that information to improve your next pitch.

However, lack of coverage isn’t the only situation that can ruin a campaign. Sometimes an outlet can post a typo or mistake. If you catch it quickly, you can reach out to correct it before the inaccurate info does too much damage.

For example, if a tech company comes out with new hardware and a reviewer posts the wrong specs, consumers will be confused. But when you spot the mistake right away, you can quickly have them edit the article.

 

What does their audience think?

You should always monitor your client beforehand to see if they’re already experiencing some backlash.

Since the unhappiest people tend be the loudest, it’s critical to be on top of negative mentions in case you need to step in and reply.

However, since they’re already unhappy, reaching out to them can be a tricky task. Remember to respond with a solution as soon as possible, since bad news travels way quicker than good news. In addition, be sure to be as humane as possible and take responsibility for whatever they’re upset about.

Negative comments aren’t the only thing you should observe to improve a campaign. You’ll also want to scan through the positive ones. This is crucial because knowing what their audience likes lets you know what features your campaign should focus on.

Once you figure that out, pitch the positives to bloggers and journalists. In addition, partnering up with influencers that aren’t unhappy about your client is a great way to get their audience on your client’s side. Ask them to cover the positives that people mentioned about your client and emphasize on them.

Wrapping it up

As you can see, there are a few different ways you can use the information that you’ve gathered from monitoring to improve your campaign.

Whether it’s used to help set a client’s expectations or during a campaign when you’re looking to find more press, it’s important to know how you can use that information to your benefit.

So, the next time you’re managing a campaign, remember to ask yourself, “How can I get the most out of this tool?”

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Brittany Berger is a guest blogger at Mention.