Competitive analysis is a pillar of any successful organization. If you don’t know what your industry rivals are doing—what products they’re launching, who they’re hiring, and what their spokespeople are saying—you’re not getting the full story.
Another element that deserves more attention when discussing competitive analysis is keeping tabs on your competitors’ crises. When a crisis hits a brand besides your own, you may think it’s enough to track just the highlights. We think PR pros should monitor their competitor’s crisis as attentively and thoroughly as they would their own.
If you’re able to observe another brand as it goes through a crisis, whether a competitor, partner, or other industry player, you’ll see them at their most vulnerable. How they operate while navigating a crisis can provide you with valuable insight—but only if you add them to your media monitoring.
Seems obvious, right? Unfortunately, not to everyone. We surveyed 300 PR pros and found that 48 percent of them don’t track their competitors and 49 percent don’t track their industry. Nearly half of PR and comms professionals are missing out on beneficial information by not keeping a close eye on their competitors and industry.
Here are six reasons we recommend tracking your main competitor’s next crisis using a top-rated media monitoring tool:
1. Simulation testing for your crisis team
If you have a crisis team in place (and we highly suggest you do), a crisis that only indirectly effects your brand is the perfect scenario to practice your team’s response processes. Treat this crisis exactly like you would your own and closely follow established protocols. This trial run will give you a chance to find any oversights or inefficiencies in your processes and make your team feel more prepared to deal with the real thing.
2. Identify potential threats
Determine if another party’s crisis presents a threat to your brand. Could your company’s name easily replace the current brand in the headlines if circumstances were different? If the answer is yes, it’s time to get proactive by working with your crisis team to plan a response, alert stakeholders, and prepare for potential media coverage.
3. Glean competitive insights
When your competitors respond to a crisis, dissect their responses. With your comms team, break down their messaging points and actions taken. Evaluate the success of their response, what you learned about them, anything they might have missed addressing, and if you would have done anything differently.
This debriefing will help you be more effective next time you need to respond to a crisis. It’s also good practice to run your findings by your leadership team and other departments that may benefit from this competitive intel.
4. Find opportunities
When a competitor is in crisis there will be opportunities to better position your own brand in the public eye. Media monitoring can help you identify if there is a chance to connect with an audience who your competitor has alienated or to build a relationship with a journalist covering the story.
By keeping a close eye on their coverage, you may also find story angles that make sense for your brand to creatively story hijack. Be sure to consult with members of your crisis team and department heads about this approach and if it’s the right choice.
5. Inform timing for PR activities
If a crisis in your brand’s landscape is currently dominating the headlines, now might not be the best time to put out a release about something unrelated, like a new product your company is launching. Consider if the news can wait until the crisis has had chance to die down. Afterall, you want your story to get the attention it deserves.
6. PR agency advantages
If you’re a PR or communications agency, sharing insights with your client about how their competitor dealt with a crisis provides an excellent opportunity to build a stronger relationship with them. You may also be able to pitch additional services to them, like your own crisis management expertise.
Are you ready to learn more about setting up a robust media monitoring program for crisis management? Check out the video below, or book a media monitoring demo today.