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Media coverage analysis allows you to measure the effectiveness of your communications and compare their performance against your peer group. Its reach spans owned, earned and shared media. When establishing the parameters for your media analysis solution, incorporating these seven elements will improve its effectiveness, and ensure it’s working as hard as it should.
Any useful piece of research requires the researcher to identify what they need to know and why they’re measuring it before they establish their process. Media analysis is no different. Directly linking your media analysis process to your wider business needs or specific communications goals will make it an effective tool in achieving them. Identify the aim of your communications, who you are trying to reach, and how you want them to respond to your campaign. Intended objectives may be to position the company in a certain way, gain greater visibility in key titles, or to swell positive perceptions of the business. Any analysis solution needs to be designed around to those initial intentions. Its offerings could include, for example, event specific reporting around how successful a new campaign has been, or whether a negative event has been successfully mitigated.
Media evaluation is only truly valuable if it encompasses all the potential sources where your organisation, competitors and industry could be mentioned. Traditional print, online, social and broadcast media all contribute to the sum of your media mentions. Any channel that is accessed by your target audience should be included. To achieve this, consider whether your media analysis solution needs to give you a worldwide, multi-language, multi-sector perspective. In addition, it has to be able to drill down into casual, unique or atypical media mentions in order to harvest specific keywords, sentiments and messages.
To demonstrate the value of the communications team’s work to the business at large, you require a robust means of measurement. For too long, the industry has relied on Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) metrics. Literally matching the surface area of coverage in column inches against display advertising, this process is out-dated, and in the era of digital media, nonsensical. Still widely used in media analysis, AVE sprang from the need for the PR sector to put an ROI figure on their output. In reality, it bears little relation to the impact of specific communications on target audiences. A similarly blunt instrument is the Opportunities to See (OTS) metric. This estimates the views of a particular piece of media based on circulation figures – a rough estimate at best, and again, largely obsolete in relation to digital content. By contrast, meaningful metrics are closely linked to your business goals. These should be robust, statistically valid, intuitive, and clearly demonstrate the value of the comms team’s work to the rest of the business. Such metrics could include traditional share of voice and volume of content figures, and also more sophisticated sentiment analytics and audience engagement and likely recall figures for key messages and individual campaigns.
In communications, speed is of the essence. Just as your media monitoring needs to function in real time, so the analysis of harvested content needs to be speedily performed. Without up-to-the-minute reporting, your media analysis service lacks true value. Early alerts will help your organisation capitalise on positive reports, or avert oncoming disasters. By contrast, daily reviews are liable to leave you floundering behind the curve as your competitors react to events that you are only just becoming aware of.
Part of proving value is to benchmark results, both over time and against the achievements of your competitors. Effective benchmarking means analysing the performance metrics that you have previously identified as useful, and tracking them over meaningful periods, and against industry paragons. These could include the number of interactions with campaigns or communications; positive responses and response time; sharing and reposting; as well as the more traditional column inches or airtime (useful as a benchmark, not as a value judgement). Are your competitors gaining on you in these areas? Are you getting sufficient share of voice? Are mentions supporting your communications goals? All of this will give you a translatable overview of how your communications strategy is performing; and help you to improve.
New technologies have given media analysis solutions unprecedented power to absorb, process and disseminate content, but the human element should not be disregarded in creating a rounded system. In using both, you combine quantitative and qualitative benefits. By removing human inconsistencies, AI applications have ensured more reliable trend data. Where once operatives coded clips based on their own responses to or opinions of them, technology now allows for automated coding and scoring, making it consistent and reliable. This allows for a more accurate representation of sentiment around particular topics. The human element is still necessary, of course, to validate the results, and interpret the trends. Humans bring the qualitative element to bear by using the data to tell the story.
Insightful media analysis needs to be agile, able to change its focus and reach in response to shifting events and a fluctuating news cycle. To achieve this, it has to be unlimited in scope, with no restrictions placed on the number of clips coded or stories pursued. Some media analysis providers work on a volume-based variable fee, which not only penalises organisations by charging them more for better coverage, but can also limit the breadth of their media monitoring. The ‘per clip’ model belongs to the days when there were a fixed number of print and broadcast sources, and is no longer appropriate in today’s hyper-connected world. Insist that your provider offers fixed, predictable pricing, and unlimited content analysis.