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What is media intelligence and how has it evolved?

Ever worry about what people are saying about your business? Paranoia aside, most organisations can benefit from a fuller understanding of what’s being reported about them. Whether this is in the press, digital news media, social media or emanating directly from their primary stakeholders. There is a vast amount of data out there. So exactly what is media intelligence and how can it help companies analyse the effectiveness of their PR and Communications strategies?

The practice of monitoring the media has a long history, stretching back to London in 1852, and an enterprising newsagent pandering to artists’ compulsion to pore over their own reviews. L’Argus de la Presse was Frenchman Alfred Cherie’s more professional take on the practice three decades later. Since that time, governments and press clipping agencies alike have trawled print and broadcast media to sample the mood of reviewers, consumers, subversives and citizens. 

In the 1970s, company PR Data began using basic computer programming to crunch the numbers and offer analysis as well as tracking, and media intelligence as we know it was born. The rise of the internet in the 1990s gave such companies an infinite reach, while Software as a Service (SaaS) allowed them to offer bespoke, accessible tools to clients looking to create more sophisticated communication strategies.

The cutting edge of public perceptions

These days, that sophistication looks positively pedestrian in the face of machine learning-assisted tools galloping through big data. Semantic analysis and natural language processing are used to fish for keywords. Social listening means posts are archived and indexed. Sentiment analysis and machine translation are also enhancing the depth of intelligence that can be harvested. This is much more than simply counting media mentions – ultimately, media intelligence is designed to provide insights into business performance.

Nowadays, AI is beginning to come into its own in providing real time, blow by blow insight into the cut and thrust of an organisation’s media data and social data – as well as on demand analytics of the emerging stories. It is starting to help predict potential issues, where and when they might occur, and for how long – allowing agile businesses to avert, or at least contain, the effects. The results are becoming powerfully proactive, rather than reactive, communications strategies. 

What can media intelligence do for you?

Organisations that effectively harness media intelligence get to understand, in real time, exactly what their communications activities are doing for them. Media measurement can show them the level of visibility they have with target audiences and their share of meaningful conversation being absorbed by that target. Coverage in key media outlets can be tracked, and the sentiment that is being generated understood. The resonance achieved by specific campaigns can be picked up and measured, as can the impact of those campaigns on sales of products and services, and whether they are leading the way in their sector. And from this analysis, future communications output can become business strategies, successful activities prioritised, and the messaging directly linked to improving business performance. 

What gets measured can get improved – by using media intelligence analytics organisations can optimise every communication they put out, tailoring it to the required audience and putting their message front and centre in the desired space. It is as important as strategic tool as setting annual profit targets and will have as great an impact on long-term success. 

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