Monitoring traditional and social media can be an intimidating task, especially if you have no idea how to go about it. Monitoring for mentions of your company is usually a great place to start, but what about that spokesperson who seems to get a lot of press, or that competitor who’s developing new products to compete with your company? And obviously you’ll need to monitor your own products, so how about the stores that stock them, what about consumers, and how about that campaign you have launching soon? And that’s only a short list. See what I mean about intimidating? But don’t get scared – get organized before you start!
I’ve worked with many clients who come to Agility PR Solutions and have so much on their plates that they aren’t always sure where to start. Especially when they have keywords that are common words or phrases.
Sitting down and gathering your keywords is a great place to start, as keywords are what will drive your monitoring. This is where we always start when working with a new client, because keywords are really what’s going to get you the full picture so at the end of a quarter you have data to help back up products, empower your spokespeople, track campaigns, and be confident that you have your ear to the ground on what’s going on in the media.
Selecting keywords is crucial to making sure that your monitoring starts out on the right foot. Before launching a media monitoring program, you’ll need to sit down and make a list of all the keywords from your company. Look at everything that is important to track: products, spokespeople, departments, competitors, industry issues, and so on. Take into account what’s going on that is affecting your company right now, as there may be keywords here that would impact your monitoring. Create a spreadsheet and list all of these keywords down one column. Keeping track of what you are monitoring is very important; once these keywords are used to build your monitoring search string, having this file will help you know what is and is not being tracked.
Inclusions and exclusions
A keyword from your list may bring in a lot of unwanted coverage, aka ‘noise’. Defining your inclusions and exclusions is a step that will help you weed out that unwanted media and bring in the coverage that really matters to you. Inclusions are great to help bring forward the coverage that mentions multiple keywords in one article or post – these are searches that must mention two or more of your keywords together in the same article. This is especially helpful if you have a generic company name, or when you are monitoring for spokespeople – you’re making sure that all mentions of your spokespeople mention your company.
Imagine you’re a large investment firm tracking issues and news relevant to your industry, and a keyword is ‘bond’. In order to filter out mentions of James Bond, among other irrelevant topics, add keywords such as ‘mutual’, or ‘issuer’, or ‘finance’, and so on. By qualifying ‘bond’ with industry-relevant keywords, you’ll get back the good coverage and leave the noise behind.
But you do want to be careful with inclusions at the beginning of your monitoring journey, as you don’t really want to narrow your monitoring too much before you start. Usually we advise clients to see what comes in with their initial set of keywords and we can continuously review the coverage as it comes in.
Exclusions are just as important as inclusion keywords; these really help to filter out unwanted coverage. My James Bond example holds true for exclusions too – by using ‘James Bond’ as an exclusion we’re sure to filter out those movie reviews. Adding other exclusion keywords to ‘bonds’ such as ‘the bonds between’ will also help to filter out the unwanted media that isn’t related to financial bonds.
‘I’ before ‘e’…man, I wish I was a perfect speller! Actually, I wish Spell Check was perfect! Sadly, typos do happen in media, and I’ve seen articles get missed because of it. If you know that one of your keywords is always (or even just sometimes) misspelled, list it and all of its variations as keywords to be monitored.
This happens a lot when monitoring broadcast with speech to text systems. So many times I’ve seen ‘Jim’ appear as ‘Dim’ – and we’ve then missed a great mention of good old ‘Jim’ on the six o’clock news. The lesson learned is that it’s best to be creative with the spelling and get them in with your keywords in the hopes of avoiding a missed pick-up of a clip somewhere along the way. It will definitely make your boss happy when you get that clip from his impromptu interview on the radio.
Regional monitoring is just as important as your keyword list. Why monitor all of North America when your business is confined to a small geographic region? Aside from being costly, it also cuts down on the amount of unwanted media you’ll inevitably be collecting. Think about the geographic reach of your company, where your consumers or stakeholders are, or where reporters you interact with are. Geography will help define the region where your coverage will come from.
Print and online publications are usually a first step for media monitoring, as the bulk of our clients’ media comes from these publication types. Usually clients have a good idea of where their coverage is coming from before they start any kind of media monitoring program. But nevertheless, when you are determining your strategy, think about the coverage that you’ve received in the past, and look also at the types of interviews and events your company is having; these events often dictate where your coverage will be picked up.
Consider the French’s ketchup story in March. One Facebook post made its way through social media right up to print, online, and broadcast media – if French’s was ready with a media monitoring strategy that included monitoring all publication types they would have captured all mentions as they were happening and stayed on top of the coverage from that one Facebook post.
So get started, and sit down and track your keywords on a spreadsheet, then organize your lists. Set up regular intervals throughout the year to review the keywords, inclusions and exclusions, and remember to always review them when new campaigns are launching and as spokespeople come and go. It never hurts to get ahead of the game and set up keywords in advance; tracking the quiet time ahead of a product launch is better than getting no coverage because the keyword was left out altogether.