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6 Common Media Monitoring Mistakes and How to Correct Them

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Monitoring media mentions is, for better or worse, a huge part of the job when you’re in the public relations or strategic communications industry. In fact, it's even more critical now, with 47% of communications leaders reporting directly to the CEO, according to the 2023 Cision PRWeek Global Comms Report.

The C-suite is relying more than ever on communications teams on how to provide direction and counsel on how to communicate to key stakeholders – be it customers, prospects, employees or investors.

That means more pressure to understand how audiences talk about and perceive your brand, your industry and your competitors. While there’s no shortage of platforms available to help communications teams gather this data, even the best software takes a little practice to make sure you’re getting the most out of it.

If you feel overwhelmed by media monitoring, frustrated with your results or simply don’t know where to begin, you’re not alone. It’s far too easy to overlook some key elements that make media monitoring most effective. The good news is it’s also pretty easy to get back on track.

Consider these common media monitoring oversights and what to do about them:

Mistake #1: Not having an end game.

Like most other business initiatives, an effective monitoring strategy should start with specific, measurable goals. Before you start tracking anything, you should think about what you are hoping to achievee through media monitoring. Do you want to prove your impact? Identify potential buyers? Understand brand reputation? Having an end goal for your PR campaign in mind will help you focus on which metrics to track.

Mistake #2: Tracking the wrong metrics.

On the surface, identifying the right metrics to track seems like it should be relatively simple; however, it can quickly get overwhelming considering the sheer volume of metrics out there. If you’re just starting out, look to the basics: brand mentions, brand sentiment, social media mentions and share of voice. (For more info on these metrics and other monitoring tips, check our quick and easy guide to PR monitoring.)

Mistake #3: Going too broad (or too narrow) in your search.

You don’t want to miss anything, so you set out to track everything…only to realize that between duplicate hits and irrelevant results, there’s a lot of junk to (tediously) sift through. On the other hand, if you set your search parameters too narrow, you might miss key coverage that’s relevant to your brand.

How to get to a happy medium? The solution may be to get a little savvier about your search strategy. If you’re working with an outside vendor, ask them about educational resources or services they offer to ensure you’re using the platform most effectively. If you’re taking a DIY approach, give yourself a quick refresher on Boolean search. It’s not a perfect science, but Boolean search practices remain the industry standard – and a good starting place for focusing your searches appropriately.

Mistake #4: Not checking out the competition.

Just as important as monitoring your brand is monitoring your brand’s biggest competitors. Not only does it enable you to find out who’s covering them (and add them to your outreach list), but it also helps you understand how you measure up against them and what you can do to gain an edge. Look at how they’re positioning themselves and what messages are (or aren’t) working for them and think about what messaging and tactics you can apply to differentiate yourself.

Mistake #5: Not taking action.

Tracking the right metrics is critical, but it doesn’t serve you any good if you don’t actually do anything with that data. When looking at the publications and social media platforms that mention you (or your competitors), are you then engaging with the reporters or influencers behind those mentions? Are you linking back to those articles (that mention you positively) to get more mileage out of that earned media? What is the perception around your brand versus that of your competitors and how can you create messaging that differentiates you from them?

Put your analytical skills to work to look for meaning behind the metrics. Once you understand the conversation, then you can adjust your messaging and outreach strategy to drive that conversation in your favor.

Mistake #6: Keeping your findings to yourself.

You’ve done the work. You have the numbers to show it. Now it’s time to let others (i.e. your C-suite) know. Reporting the impact of your efforts isn’t about bragging (not that there’s anything wrong with that); it’s about showing leaders you are aligned to company goals and overall business strategy. Having a report to put in front of them makes it hard for them to overlook the impact your team is making to the bottom line – and more likely they’ll expand their investment in PR.

Of course, sometimes it helps to have a partner who understands your pain (and can help alleviate it). To see how Cision can help you monitor your PR and strategic communications efforts more effectively, connect with a Cision expert today.

This article has been updated from an earlier version from November 2021.

Anna Marevska

Anna Marevska is an editor and writer for Cision Blog, and writes media updates, media influencer and industry features. She is also the senior manager of content and client data at Cision’s research department, and the editor of Find her on Instagram @AnnaMar3.