PR Vendors: How to Choose the Best Monitoring, Media Database and Wire Service Options for Your Business (Part I of III)

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Whether you are looking to send a press release, set up media monitoring or choose a media database, you have many, many options from which to select. But where should you start? It can be overwhelming to determine which of these options is best for your company.

I have sat through countless demos of various PR solutions and have thoroughly researched the appropriate options, both for Comprise as an agency as well as for the specific needs of individual clients. In this series of blog posts, I offer tips for your agency or in-house PR department to help choose the best vendors for your individual needs.

PART I: Social, Online and Traditional Media Monitoring

There are numerous monitoring options out there claiming to be the most comprehensive, most reliable and best at customer service. Where do you start?

Implement the Free Services First

Before upgrading to a paid monitoring service, first implement some free services to see if they can satisfy your monitoring needs on their own. Here are a few of my favorites:

Depending on the complexity — or sometimes sheer volume — of a company’s needs, we find that many of our clients are well served with free services. However, if you find they are not meeting your needs, here are some questions to ask to find a paid service:

What Are You Looking For?

Once you decide you need to upgrade to a paid monitoring solution, it is important to clearly outline your needs in order to get exactly what you need (and nothing more or less).

  • What do you need? Are you looking to monitor social media, blogs, online media, print media or broadcast? Depending on what you are looking for, there are very different solutions and price levels. While some services have options for all of these, your needs may be better served for less money by using certain aspects of multiple services.
  • How large is your company? Consider the size of the company as well as the  number of people on your marketing team who will need to access the platform. You also need to consider the number of search results per month and the number of journalists, outlets, consumers, etc. potentially talking about your company online. This all can help determine the size and comprehensiveness of the vendor that you need.
  • Outline your budget. How much can you spend on a monthly or yearly basis? These monitoring services can be as inexpensive as $9 per month up to a hefty $50,000 (or more) per year. You want to ensure that you get the best and most tailored system for your needs.

Research Online and Read Reviews

After you determine what you are looking for in a monitoring service, conduct online research and read reviews about each of these services. Case studies and user reviews can say a great deal about the the level of service and quality of monitoring that each provides.

Set Up a Demo

Pick the top two or three services that look like they fit your needs best and request a demo. This allows an expert to guide you through the system. You can demo more than three services, but remember, this takes a significant amount of time and follow up.

Pro Tip: Ask for a login for a trial period to navigate the platform on your own. Check it out and have another person in your agency or PR department play around with it as well. Sometimes, it is best to experiment on a trial basis to ensure the program doesn’t run slow, isn’t clunky on your preferred browser, and delivers accurate findings in relation to your key terms or social profiles.

Get a Comprehensive Budget and Terms

Before you sign a contract, make sure to know how long it will last and how to get out of that contract if needed. Also, make sure that you agree with the contract terms. In other words, make sure that you read the fine print — you are spending a lot of money on this and likely committing to it for a year.

Popular Paid Monitoring Platforms

My Favorite Paid Monitors

For public relations and social media programs, an appropriate monitoring program is key for keeping track of not only your news, but your competitor’s news and your brand’s presence. There are a million out there, but which are your favorites? Let me know in the comments, I always love to check out new monitoring platforms!

Check back in to read about how to choose a media database in Part II of this series.

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