Media Monitoring Checklist


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Are you getting the most out of your media monitoring service? Do you want ideas about how to enhance your monitoring and analysis of traditional and social media?

Chip Griffin, CustomScoop’s founder, has distilled two decades of media monitoring advice into a simple guide to help you make sure you’re getting the most from your investment.

In The Media Monitoring Checklist you will learn how to:

* choose and implement effective search criteria

* use charts and graphs to help you analyze your results

* pitch media more effectively using your monitoring account

* leverage automated tools to help make your internal reporting quick and easy

* distribute media monitoring results via email and websites to key audiences

* collaborate with colleagues using workflow management tools in your monitoring account

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Media Monitoring Checklist

  1. 1. The Media Monitoring ChecklistGetting Better Results with Less Time,Less Money, and Less Hassleby Chip GriffinCustomScoop | 130 Pembroke Road | Suite 150 | Concord, 03301 | T: 603.410.5000 | F: 603.410.5050 |
  2. 2. Contents Contents 2 Introduction 3 Set Up Your Account 3 R Take advantage of your provider’s help & customer support 3 R Set up your search criteria 4 R Create essential reports & charts 5 R Schedule email alerts 9 Use Your Reports 9 R Consume email reports 9 R Review clips in an online dashboard 10 Leverage Your Content 11 R Use workflow tools to organize yourself and your team 11 R Distribute news to key audiences 11 R Add stories to your intranet or external web site 11 R Analyze news data through rating and other metrics 12 R Save reports to your online dashboard 13 R Export your data 13 About the Author 14 About CustomScoop 14 The Media Monitoring Checklist© 2011 CustomScoop. All rights reserved. Page 2
  3. 3. IntroductionTracking important stories in traditional and social media provides powerful benefits to organizations of all types and sizes. With theproliferation of media outlets and content, it becomes ever more difficult to do this monitoring effectively.Whether you’re using a free consumer service like Google Alerts or a professional solution like CustomScoop, there are ways to makesure you’re getting the most from your effort.Ultimately, you want to make sure that you expend as little time and money as necessary to get the results you need withoutunnecessary hassle.This e-book will show you how to maximize your media monitoring benefits with a step-by-step guide to setting up your account, usingyour reports, and leveraging your results.Set Up Your AccountWhen you decide which media monitoring provider to use, it’s time to start setting up your account to position yourself for success. Byinvesting some time up front, you will save yourself time and make yourself more effective as you use your solution on a daily basis.R Take advantage of your provider’s help & customer supportMost free search providers offer some degree of online help that tries to guide you through the way to use the monitoring service.By understanding the nuances of the available search syntax, you can do a better job of tailoring your search results to meet yourindividual needs.Customer service exists to serve youOf course, if you’re paying for your monitoring service, you should have access to a much richer customer service experience. Don’tbe bashful: your account manager and other support staff exist to serve your needs. Tell them what you want and let them help youaccomplish those goals.Let the pros customize your accountGood providers will work with you to fully customize your monitoring account. In fact, this is one of the key things that separate freeservices from professional solutions. If you use something like Google Alerts, you have to rely on public help files. With professionalservices, you can describe what you want to track and the customer service representatives should help set up the criteria and reportsyou need to be effective.Training helps get the most out of your investmentDon’t overlook training. You and your team want to make sure that you get the most out of what your media monitoring investment, sobe sure to understand the full suite of features and tools available to you. Training may include basics like online tutorials or videos.In some cases, your provider may also provide web-based training through group webinars or individual tutorials. And if you cantake advantage of on-site training opportunities, be sure to find time for those because they can provide you the greatest return oninvestment by engaging in a meaningful, in-person dialogue about your needs and how to meet them. The Media Monitoring Checklist© 2011 CustomScoop. All rights reserved. Page 3
  4. 4. R Set up your search criteriaAt the heart of any online media monitoring program lies search terms. At its most basic level, that may mean typing a keyword orphrase into a search engine like Google or Bing. But true media monitoring providers offer a much richer set of tools to help zero in onthe stories, blog posts, and other content you need to see.Start with your own organization & leadersIt is often best to think of monitoring search terms as concentric circles. In the middle, you have stories that mention your organizationand key leadership. So be sure to include all relevant terms (including notable variations, even common misspellings) in your searchcriteria. Add in your CEO/President or other important executives and spokespeople.Add in what your organization doesRelated to direct mentions of your organization would be coverage of your products, campaigns or other ventures. You probably want tosee just about all of that coverage, so add those in to your provider’s tool to stay on top of that content.Track your competitors and criticsOf course, knowing what the media and public say aboutyou and your organization is important, but it doesn’toccur in a vacuum. So be certain to add in names of keycompetitors or critics so that you can understand yourown coverage in the context of what else is being saidthat impacts your marketplace or issues.Stay on top of industry topicsThe other key driver of the success of your owncommunications programs is what else is going on inyour industry. Some of that comes from your competitivetracking, but it is also worthwhile to add in search termsrelated to major industry topics that impact the successof your own organization.Know what key Individuals are sayingIt’s also important to know what key individuals aresaying that may impact your business. By adding inthe names of selected journalists, commentators, andanalysts, you can help develop strategies for targetingmedia outreach or for identifying topics that you need toinoculate against.Use your media monitoring as a businessintelligence toolYour media monitoring platform can also prove to bea valuable tool for keeping key executives apprised ofactivities related to critical government leaders, businesspartners, board members, investors, major customers,donors, vendors, and more. By adding search criteria to The Media Monitoring Checklist© 2011 CustomScoop. All rights reserved. Page 4
  5. 5. track media mentions of these individuals and entities, you can help provide timely intelligence to others in your organization who will beappreciative of the heads-up.You can even use media monitoring as a lead generation tool by identifying individuals, especially through social media, who may expressan interest in topics related to what your organization does.Take advantage of advanced search toolsWith the wide range of topics that you will get value from tracking, it is important to restrict the results to just the most importantstories. If you’re a Fortune 100 company with lots of media coverage, you probably can’t even read every story that mentions your ownorganization, let alone all of the other searches suggested here.That’s where professional solutions really shine. Many offer the ability to restrict search criteria to certain groups of publications – oreven to require a search term to appear more than once in a story to cause it to create a match. The more robust your search options,the better your odds are of creating a manageable workload.R Create essential reports & chartsVisualizing or segmenting your media results can lead to important insights more quickly than reading through every story that yourmonitoring tools uncover in chronological order. Even many free services provide basic charting capability that helps show volume forindividual search terms over time, while professional solutions often give you a robust set of options to create customizable reports andcharts and graphs that meet your specific needs.Use volume charts to spot trendsLooking at the simple number of results matching certain search criteria can prove to be a valuable tool to identify important trends.Understanding spikes and valleys in coverage – and what caused them – will inform future activities. The Media Monitoring Checklist© 2011 CustomScoop. All rights reserved. Page 5
  6. 6. In the chart here by Nielsen’s BlogPulse service, one can easily causing that uptick. Think of it as an early warning tool for see a short-lived spike in the social media coverage of Steve understanding things that are driving coverage. Jobs. There are a number of pieces of information that can be By looking at longer timeframes, however, it is also possible to gleaned from this six month view. understand replicable events that drive coverage. Some may First, a clear baseline of coverage is seen on either side of the be obvious, like quarterly earnings reports for a company, but spike, thus providing useful information for Apple executives as one may discern other patterns that prove useful for planning well as competitors. If one were to look at the chart in real- purposes. Maybe a spike is noticed every time an interest group time some morning and see movement above that baseline has events or when a competitor releases new products. The – as would have been the case if looking at this report in early possibilities are endless, but the tools to zero in on these trends May 2011 – it would alert the need to examine what event was are readily available even in free services. View results broken out by keyword or source type to find news drivers With the proliferation of media sources, it is valuable to understand where coverage of a particular topic is coming from. Are results being driven by traditional or social media? Is it an industry trade press story or one that is garnering mainstream print or even broadcast attention? The Media Monitoring Checklist© 2011 CustomScoop. All rights reserved. Page 6
  7. 7. Knowing how your organization and issues (and your competitors) are being covered – and where – will help improve your own targeting and messaging activities. In this chart from CustomScoop, one can easily see that the coverage of this particular topic is focused largely in online and social media sites, along with a significant component of trade press. But clearly it is not one that is breaking through to the mainstream, with very little newspaper, magazine or TV/radio coverage. If the pie chart shown here were “normal” for your organization, it would allow you to glance at it each day and know quickly if something is out of the ordinary. Perhaps a competitor has a crisis that took it from being a social media/trade press story to one that broke through to receive attention from a broader media segment. Compare yourself to competition/opposition using charts We all need benchmarks and our bosses often want to know how we’re doing in “us vs. them” comparisons. Knowing how we stack up helps drive strategy and tactics and may even inform compensation discussions. The most common way to compare results for related topics is through combined line charts like the one shown here from Google Trends. As the name implies, that free service provides the ability to understand topic trends over time by comparing with related benchmarks. For instance, this example shows George Bush vs. Barack Obama, with obvious spikes around the 2004 and 2008 elections. The Media Monitoring Checklist© 2011 CustomScoop. All rights reserved. Page 7
  8. 8. These comparison charts need not always be just against competitors. Perhaps you want to explore how your company’s coverage trends against important economic, governmental, or even sporting events. There are almost endless permutations but the bottom line is that they can all provide useful insight to help in your decision-making and analysis. Segment results by geography or other important delineators For many larger organizations, it may be valuable to break out clips by geography or other factors that are used for dividing workload or enhancing analysis. This sort of segmentation can take two different forms. It may be visual, as is the case with the coverage map shown here from CustomScoop that allows at-a-glance assessment of which states have the highest concentration of relevant coverage for any given time period. While a map chart can be useful in getting an overview of coverage, many organizations will want to have specialized reports that group results by region, topic, source type, or other factors that are used to determine who will manage responses. These may be media relations managers with specific responsibility (like broadcast vs. social media), but it may also be used by organizations that feed media results to non-PR departments, like regional sales representatives or grassroots government relations managers. Develop reports to highlight the most important results In addition to the charts and reports previously described that focus on uncovering trends or balancing workloads, you can also use customizable report criteria to quickly review results that are more likely to be important. For example, you might create a specialized report that flags stories that mention your CEO. Or perhaps you have a small, targeted list of publications that are of particular interest. Some professional solutions will enable you to zero in on those sources to help save you time. Other options to consider would be organizing results by the number of keyword mentions or other indicators of relevance like circulation. The Media Monitoring Checklist© 2011 CustomScoop. All rights reserved. Page 8
  9. 9. R Schedule email alerts In the “old days” of media monitoring, you would receive an envelope in the mail with a stack of paper-based news clips every few weeks. That’s not exactly timely. Today, with the powerful electronic media monitoring tools at your disposal, it is now possible to be almost instantly notified of important news stories or blog posts by email. Not only is it faster, but it’s available to you whether you’re in your office or relaxing on a beach somewhere. Free services like Google Alerts provide some basic email delivery tools to take advantage of, while professional solutions typically give you greater flexibility to manage your email consumption of new results. Ideally, you want to set up different reports on different schedules. Here are some examples to consider: • Critical items (like CEO mentions) should come hourly • Overviews and early warning reports should come daily • Intraday reports can be useful when dealing with coverage in multiple time zones or to catch breaking news • Weekly emails can be set up to help with internal reporting requirements Your own needs will likely vary from these examples, but hopefully they give you some ideas. The bottom line is that email alerts are incredibly valuable to help you get your job done efficiently – especially if you want to make sure you’re on top of the most important results before you get a call from the c-suite asking about something you haven’t seen yet. Use Your Reports Now that you have your account configured just the way you want it, it’s time to consider how you will use it on a daily basis. Both free services and professional solutions typically offer tools to consume your results via email or on a web site. R Consume email reports Think of email reports as your first line of defense – or offense, if you prefer. It’s a more passive way for you to consume the reports and charts you set up in the first part of this checklist. When you’re on the go or if you’re busy on another task when an email alert comes in, you can rely on headlines, abstracts and other summary information to let you know if it must be dealt with immediately or can wait. Email reports can be easily forwarded as-is to colleagues to keep them in the loop or to ask them to take certain action. If you find yourself consistently forwarding emails to the same person, you may want to consider adding them to your provider’s email distribution system. For longer daily or weekly email reports that you receive, you may view them more as helpful reminders to log in to your online dashboard to explore the results with a larger suite of tools at your disposal. If you have set up charts and graphs to come via email, you may want to time them around your own internal reporting requirements so you can simply copy and paste the charts into your weekly or monthly report to your bosses or clients. The Media Monitoring Checklist© 2011 CustomScoop. All rights reserved. Page 9
  10. 10. R Review clips in an online dashboard Your online dashboard may be as simple as a Google search box and results page, or it could be a more robust one with a professional solution like the example shown here from CustomScoop. In either case, your online dashboard provides you with the ability to slice and dice your results in a variety of ways and then manipulate those results to take action. You will likely start out by filtering and sorting your results to enable you to zero in on your most important coverage first. Filtering for key search terms and then sorting by relevance can help make you more efficient. If you are part of a larger team, you can often share responsibilities with colleagues by reviewing different sets of clips. With professional solutions, you will likely have the option to use saved reports to streamline this process, but even with free services you can come up with business rules to manage this process at least somewhat effectively. Many dashboards also give you the opportunity to search news in real-time – including on topics that you may not have previously configured for monitoring. This can be particularly helpful when an important story breaks that you had not anticipated and you want to gather coverage on that topic. Professional solutions will typically provide a range of tools to organize and annotate your results, and we’ll explore the value of those in more detail in the next section. The Media Monitoring Checklist© 2011 CustomScoop. All rights reserved. Page 10
  11. 11. Leverage Your Content So you’ve set up your account and started to review your results. Now what? To get the most out of your investment of time and resources, you will want to determine how best to leverage the raw results to get more insight and value out of them. R Use workflow tools to organize yourself and your team Modern media monitoring solutions are about more than simply giving you a pile of clips to review. Increasingly, they are adding functionality to permit project management, workflow, or even customer relationship management. Often with professional solutions you can flag clips for follow-up activity by yourself or other members of your team. You might append a note explaining what needs to be done or what messaging might be appropriate. You also may have the opportunity to organize your results by tagging them or assigning them to folders. This can help make you and your team members more efficient by being able to review hand-selected results. R Distribute news to key audiences Traditionally, public relations professionals have distributed daily “clip sheets” or monthly “clip books” to key leadership team members. Today, that delivery takes place electronically and may be delivered by email or other online tools. Most media monitoring services will enable you to email individual results to others to draw attention to specific pieces of content. This could be passing along a bit of competitive intelligence to a sales team member or providing a clip quoting an executive to that individual. For team engagement or for reaching out to important external constituencies, some professional monitoring solutions provide the ability to develop customized newsletters. These might be delivered daily or weekly to share the organization’s own media coverage, competitive intelligence, or important industry or issue news. R Add stories to your intranet or external web site Emailing results in a newsletter format is a great option if you know in advance the email addresses of the people you would like to share content with. However, often you may want to include news coverage on your internal or external web sites. There are three ways to accomplish this. The first is a manual method where you find important stories through your monitoring provider and then type in the headlines and links into your organization’s web site content management system. Professional monitoring solution providers may provide you with more powerful tools to accomplish the same goal with less effort. Widgets For example, some providers will give you a widget that you can easily integrate into your web site. All you have to do is define which results you would like to appear in that box on your site. In some cases, the results might automatically show up if they match certain criteria, like keywords or publication names. Often you will want to review the results before they show up (to avoid circumstances where a negative story slips through accidentally). In those cases, a provider that enables you to mark specific results to appear in the widget would be a good choice. The Media Monitoring Checklist© 2011 CustomScoop. All rights reserved. Page 11
  12. 12. RSS and XML Feeds For more technically sophisticated organizations, it may also be possible to extract data from your media monitoring account as RSS or XML feeds. Put simply, these are ways for computers to talk to each other so that any data that is in your monitoring account can be integrated with your organization’s web site or even other database programs. Although it requires engaging support from your IT department, it gives you maximum flexibility for handling your media results. R Analyze news data through rating and other metrics It is often valuable to go beyond merely seeing and reporting on what media coverage may exist for a particular organization, person or topic. Applying various forms of analysis to your results will enhance your understanding for and appreciation of the work that goes into steering coverage. Rating results based on sentiment The first thing that comes to mind for most public relations professionals is rating clips. Often this is done on a positive-negative- neutral rating system, but there are countless permutations that others have developed over the years. The approach you select should be simple enough to easily implement but robust enough to meet your organization’s unique needs. Some professional solution providers give you the ability to select or create your own rating system, while others keep you in the more traditional positive-negative-neutral paradigm. Historically, rating of media results has been done manually. Originally, it would have been readers reviewing paper clips and assigning results by hand or in a spreadsheet. Today, it is done in the context of an online dashboard in most cases. In recent years, an alternative to the manual rating approach has been developed. Often referred to as “automated sentiment analysis” it’s really just a fancy way of saying that a computer tries to use “artificial intelligence” or “linguistic analysis” to determine whether a story is positive or negative. The Media Monitoring Checklist© 2011 CustomScoop. All rights reserved. Page 12
  13. 13. The automated approach allows high-volume processing with minimal investment of human resources. However, it sacrifices accuracy. Most studies have shown that automated sentiment analysis is somewhere between 60 and 80 percent accurate. At the low end of range, that’s only slightly better than tossing a coin. Even when humans review and rate results, there can be disagreements. In fact, the vast majority of results end up being neutral. So perhaps it is not surprising that computer results have errors, too. However, humans disagree based on facts, whereas computers may simply get confused. For example, sarcasm often confuses computer analysis. In addition, the shorter, more casual language popular in social media may be difficult for most automated sentiment analysis solutions to interpret. Because of the volume and cost advantage of an automated approach, it is still worth considering as long as you understand and accept the lack of true reliability. Incorporate charts for understanding Most individuals appreciate visual elements of reports. How often does your eye go to a bulleted list or a chart over a long paragraph of text? Keep that in mind when you are producing your own reports based on your media results and be sure to liberally incorporate charts and graphs to help illustrate your key points. These charts can be particularly valuable when producing analysis since they can reveal important trends that may be easier to see than explain. To borrow from Justice Potter Stewart, sometimes you can’t define something, but you know it when you see it. Don’t jump directly to analysis Good analysis requires real preparation. It can be very tempting with all of the tools available to you to just jump into the results and start spewing out charts and graphs and calling it analysis. But good media analysis requires careful planning and research in advance. You need to establish baselines and understand the objectives of the program. You should define measures of success – both ones that can be measured by your media monitoring program but also others that rely on actual business or other organizational outcomes. Once you figure out what’s right for your own analysis program, you need to commit the resources needed to implement it appropriately and consistently. Analysis that gets done only sporadically does not have as much value as reporting that occurs on a set, regular schedule to help make important strategic and tactical adjustments in a timely fashion. R Save reports to your online dashboard As you create reports, charts, and analysis, it can be very valuable to keep that information stored in a central location. That may be in the form of an intranet resource that you already have established for your team, but some professional monitoring solutions provide you with the ability to save reports – and even external collateral and other documents – in your online dashboard. By keeping the information in one common location, it makes it easier to go back and review previous information or share important documents among an entire team. This leads to greater organization, more consistency, and improved effectiveness. R Export your data As more of us move to services that exist online instead of software that resides on our own computers, the control over our own data becomes more of an issue. Most free monitoring services and even many professional solution providers don’t allow you to extract your results easily. Ultimately, your media results are something you should own. So if your provider permits it, take advantage of the ability to download your information in spreadsheet, database, PDF, XML, or any other format provided. If you have the ability to control your own data you have more flexibility in the type of analysis you can do, and it also gives you peace of mind that you will be able to maintain historical media results data even if you – or a colleague – switches to a new provider sometime in the future. The Media Monitoring Checklist© 2011 CustomScoop. All rights reserved. Page 13
  14. 14. Call for free consultation 1.603.410.5000About the AuthorChip Griffin serves as CEO of CustomScoop, a media intelligence company he co-founded in 2000. CustomScoop provides a cloud-based subscription service thatmonitors, measures, and reports on traditional and social media coverage for Fortune500 companies, non-profit organizations, public relations agencies, and small-to-medium sized enterprises. For two decades, Chip has worked in the public affairsarena, including service in public and private sector organizations. He has co-foundedmore than half a dozen companies, and he writes and speaks frequently about theintersection of technology, media, and communications. He is a graduate of AmericanUniversity where he is Vice President of the Alumni Association and a member of theSchool of Public Affairs Advisory Council. Chip lives in New Hampshire with his wifeand two sons.About CustomScoopCustomScoop offers traditional and social media monitoring, analysis, anddistribution solutions for public relations, marketing, and government relationsprofessionals. Each client has access to fast, accurate results with a customizabledashboard, email alerts, newsletter creation tools.Sign up for a free demo of CustomScoop by visiting www.customscoop.comCustomScoop | 130 Pembroke Road | Suite 150 | Concord, 03301 | T: 603.410.5000 | F: 603.410.5050 |