When analyzing the ever-evolving media landscape, a lot has changed over the past five years. While newsrooms continue to shrink, an increasing number of individuals are taking advantage of the shifting space by becoming content creators or influencers.
As a result, PR efforts are hamstrung because it can be difficult to break through all of the noise and get your message in front of the people who actually matter in the right publication or on the right platform at the right time. Whether you’re looking for the ideal media contact, seeking to send out a press release or monitoring media for mentions of your brand, competition or industry news, it can be incredibly overwhelming to determine which of the myriad options available is the right fit for the unique needs of your organization.
We wrote a series of blog posts about this five years ago which became a resource for clients and colleagues alike. This year, we’re updating that blog series to share our experience, hindsight and timeliest tips for your agency or in-house PR department to determine the optimal vendors for your distinct needs. Let’s dive in.
Media monitoring involves, well, monitoring various media channels to understand what people are saying about your brand, your competition, your industry and anything else that’s pertinent to your company and how your organization operates. Conversations are constantly happening, and it’s critical to your PR efforts that you’re listening to the conversations that pertain to your organization and your industry.
From understanding your target audience to evaluating your efforts, identifying members of the media for outreach or monitoring your brand’s reputation, media monitoring provides the knowledge that propels your organization forward.
With options ranging from free online options to automated tools and managed services, media monitoring solutions can be as basic or as advanced as you need. Today, media monitoring is technologically advanced — machine learning tools, sophisticated algorithms and powerful processors are used to track, organize and bring mentions together from across the entire media landscape, including traditional media, social media, blogs and other online outlets. But with numerous monitoring options out there claiming to be the most comprehensive, most reliable and best at customer service, it can be difficult to figure out where to begin.
Budget-Friendly and Free Options
There are countless free and inexpensive monitoring options available, and many of them can satisfy your needs as a standalone solution. Depending on your needs, we’ve found that many of our clients are well served leveraging free services.
Consider setting up Google Alerts to monitor coverage in online news and blogs. You can organize alerts around specific words, topics or search phrases, and the free service will even suggest additional alerts for you to pay attention to.
Other free and inexpensive options to think about:
- Hootsuite (both free and paid versions are available)
- Mention (free trial and free plan, which includes one alert and 250 monthly mentions)
- Talkwalker Alerts
While these options work well for many businesses, you may find the results are not as robust as you would like. When that’s the case, it might be time to consider paid options.
Paid Monitoring Tools
If you opt for a paid solution, it’s important to consider several factors — from your specific monitoring needs to the number of people using the solution and your budget for such tools. But it’s also crucial that you do your research, read reviews and request demonstrations before making a purchase. Many paid options are cloud-based tools that include a dashboard and require an expert to guide you through the system.
Popular paid platforms include:
- Cision (Contact for quote)
- Meltwater (Contact for quote)
- Brand24 (Plans starting at $49/month)
- Awario (Plans starting at $29/month)
- Brandwatch ($800 – $1,000/month for analytics)
- Critical Mention (Contact for quote)
- BuzzSumo (Freemium version available, paid plans start at $99/month)
Compared to the free and budget-friendly options, paid tools tend to reveal more relevant and in-depth coverage and search a wider range of sources. Some will “do the work for you” after setup, and many paid media monitoring tools even include the option for you to receive automated briefs and alerts and integrated reporting capabilities that make sharing the results of your media monitoring efforts among stakeholders easier than ever.
As more companies turn to media monitoring for insights into their brand and their business sector, monitoring tools are becoming more elaborate and increasingly affordable. Which ones have you found to be effective? Let us know! We’re always interested in learning about new tools.
In the next post of this series, we’ll offer advice on how to select the best media database for your organization.