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Media monitoring in crisis communications

Any organisation with a public profile runs the risk of a PR crisis.

And every PR professional needs to be ready to respond. A crisis communications plan can be the difference between a few days of negative reporting before the news cycle rolls on, and significant, lasting damage to the brand – and your bottom line. In crisis management, one of the most powerful tools at PR professionals’ disposal is media monitoring.

A crisis can take many forms. Discontent around executive pay, a cybersecurity breach, poor employee behaviour or CEO faux pas can all lead to reputational damage. At every stage along the timeline, from the point at which a potential disaster appears on the horizon, to being in the heart of the storm, to handling the transition out of crisis, media intelligence has an insightful role to play.

Media monitoring as part of a crisis management plan

Just as prevention is the best cure, so a media monitoring service can help diffuse a crisis before it arises. Wherever there is the potential for reputational damage, it allows PR practitioners to flag threats and identify likely touch papers, then model the best way to put out resulting fires.

Media monitoring tools can be used to understand the perception of your brand, and how it is trending in different regions and among particular audiences. Social media monitoring in particular can give you an early indicator of who might be likely to champion, or denigrate, your organisation.

Tracking competitors’ media mentions, and how they react, can help you to predict and plan for any crises you may face. Likewise, you can identify potential antagonists, screening their commentary for mentions of your brand, services or products. This forewarning will allow you to a forearm – by engaging with negative commentators, influencing the conversation and disabusing them of misconceptions prior to a crisis being triggered.

In the midst of crisis management

However well prepared you are, at some point, you will need to put your crisis communications plan into action. As well as a litmus test of public perception, social media can be the origin or amplifier of a reputational crisis. Its power lies in its speed, with opinions instantly stated and spread. To combat it, your crisis response needs to be equally agile.

Real-time media monitoring allows you to react quickly, by showing how the crisis is developing, and where it is focused. Social media listening is a key part of this, reporting who is saying what about you, and why. With this information, you can create a tailored, up-to-the-minute counter-response.

Scanning the media for mentions using sentiment analysis doesn’t just capture negative comments. It also allows you to identify potential champions for your cause, influencers who remain positive about your brand as the crisis plays out, and might be willing to advocate on your behalf and push perception in your favour. 

Transitioning out, post-crisis

People want to be heard, and part of diffusing any crisis is showing that you have listened to the issues and responded appropriately. Media monitoring will allow you to pinpoint key themes and craft your communications accordingly.

As the first shockwave passes, there is a danger of information overload clouding oversight of the situation. A media monitoring platform that allows you to manage the frequency of alerts is invaluable at this stage. Rather than flooding your inbox with the same story across different media channels, it will pulse the information to you as you need it. You can also set monitoring parameters to identify new data that might otherwise be lost in the overall noise.

Media monitoring is perhaps at its most valuable post crisis, by helping you avoid similar mistakes. How the crisis broke, the damage that was done, and the way the negative impact spread can inform how you rebuild and move forward.

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