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The benefits of media analysis in today’s 24/7 news cycle should be apparent to any communications professional scrambling to assimilate the volume of mentions issuing from print, broadcast, online and social media channels. With so much content being released on a relentless schedule, even the best standalone media monitoring system will be insufficient to allow for the necessary insight.
While media monitoring gives the corporate communications function oversight of what’s being said about their organisation, when, where and by whom, media analysis reveals the share of voice that organisation owns, the sentiment of any coverage, whether its communications are effective, if a target audience is being reached, level of brand awareness and how it is faring next to its competitors. And the deeper benefits of media analysis offer insight beyond these functions, into industry trends, key media access and reputational risk. Here we look at the powerful outcomes that can be achieved through a media analysis solution, and why every corporate affairs team should have one at their disposal.
Media analysis measures communications output. Not just the quantity of press releases and posts, but rather the quality – specifically in terms of effectiveness. By looking at the response to communications, in terms of sharing, republishing and reporting, the strength of a particular comms strategy can be quantified. Media analysis shows the share of voice a particular message is receiving. This type of measurement enables the optimisation of future communications. Knowing what worked, and how well, informs how future campaigns should be designed next time around, which messaging can reliably be built upon, and what elements need to be improved. The focus here is on quality differentiation.
Measuring the effectiveness of communications also allows for key message testing. This means not just knowing which message has landed, but where and how strongly. Which media outlets have picked it up, which audiences is it resonating with, who is posting it to their social networks, and how are their followers responding? How many column inches has a story received, or in the virtual equivalent, how many hits, likes and shares has it had? In this way, communications teams can identify whether certain strategies are reaching and working for particular stakeholders. It provides a blueprint for how to target the publications most likely to be receptive, where different messaging might be needed to pinpoint media not currently being reached, and how to plan the social media strategy.
There is no requirement to limit media analysis to an organisation’s own communications output. Knowing what the competition is doing, and how their messaging is landing is equally valuable. Competitor analysis gives an understanding of what’s being said about them, comparing it to the outcomes of the company’s own coverage, and breaking down how are they are achieving those results. This reveals the perception of competitors among a company’s own target audience, which in turns means they can benchmark against it, choose to go one up on it, or distance themselves from any unflattering or negative issues impacting their sector. Media analysis means competitive advantage.
How audiences respond to communications is key to understanding them. It’s easier to position your company, its brands, products and services if you know what your audiences want. One of the benefits of social media is the window it opens on how people feel about particular topics, and which forums they use to express those feelings. Social media also gives access to that audience in real time, allowing customer services to reach out to social media users. Friends can also be found within traditional media. Knowing where communications campaigns are most likely to find a receptive audience is another benefit of media analysis. In this way, the comms function can develop tactical alliances with certain media sources or reporters, allowing them to minimise negative mentions, and maximise the value of their PR efforts.
Having a finger on the media pulse enables a quick and effective response to any communications crisis. Media analysis facilitates this by mapping the emergency as it unfolds, reporting the areas of biggest impact and the sentiment among various stakeholder groups. This allows the comms team to get ahead of the curve in reaching out to the affected stakeholders and modelling the messaging. This results in effective crisis management. Media analysis also lets organisations review the crises that are affecting other companies in their sector, which provide learning examples on what not to do, how not to react, controversial topics and type of content to steer clear of, and potentially sticky issues to downplay. Longer term, media analysis should allow the communications function to step away from the need for crisis management into the more measured realm of risk management.
When assessing the effectiveness of events, campaigns or one off initiatives – anything that is here today and gone tomorrow – media analysis can help to capture the moment in time. When there is a quick turn around of feedback, particularly if an event is campaign driven, there is an opportunity to test and learn, get immediate responses, and collate any media content that has been generated. This allows the comms team to see how they did, evaluate the risks, optimise timing and maximise mentions for future events.
So far we have looked at short-term, immediate benefits. But media analysis, consistently employed can have a longer-term impact on reputation management. By measuring how effective a communications department is in landing key messages, media analysis allows the business to link the effectiveness of those campaigns to the shifting perspectives of key stakeholders. It can show how the messaging impacts the way consumers, shareholders, employees, and the wider community respond to the organisation over time. Managed as part of a wider reputation intelligence solution, influencing those perceptions can ladder up into improved KPIs.