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Understanding Today’s Media: Insights from Top Journalists

Join this panel with top journalists to explore findings from the 2024 State of the Media Report.

The 2024 State of the Media Report

Get actionable insight from 3,000+ journalists on what they truly want and need from PR teams.

Social Listening 101: What It Is and Why It Matters

The role of PR is much different than it was a few years ago. Not only are executives relying more on PR and communications teams to provide competitive insight and offer strategic counsel, PR is under more pressure than ever to prove the value of their efforts with solid data. On top of all of this, the media landscape has only gotten more complex in recent years, thanks to the widespread adoption of social media – and it is only going to keep evolving.

While all of this can feel overwhelming, thanks to the proliferation of sophisticated media monitoring and social listening tools, it also presents an exciting opportunity for PR and marketing professionals: to tap into social media and other digital channels to generate media coverage and brand awareness and connect with audiences on a deeper level than ever before.

But What Is Social Listening?

Social listening is, much like it sounds, “listening” to the conversations happening on social media and other digital channels (blogs, online forums, review sites, etc.), to better understand how consumers feel about your brand and your competitors. Leading PR and marketing teams are working social listening into their strategies, using data and insights derived from social listening to build smarter, more informed communications and marketing strategies.

Why Does Social Listening Matter?

Social listening provides insights beyond traditional media monitoring that PR and marketing teams can use to inform outreach to press, influencers, customers and prospects and manage brand reputation. It provides a whole other level of PR data and analytics to help PR and comms teams determine exactly who their target audience is, how to target them and how to craft a message that resonates. But even that doesn’t scratch the surface of social listening’s power.

Below are just some of the ways leading companies are using social listening to grow not just their brands, but their business:

  • Brand Management: Social listening helps companies understand how audiences feel about their brands (what they love about it, what they don’t love about it, etc.) and use that knowledge to manage their brand reputation.
  • Competitor Analysis: Understanding how audiences feel about your competitors is just as important as understanding how they feel about you. Social listening also helps companies understand how audiences feel about their competitors, as well as what their competitors are doing. Social listening provides valuable insight into what companies can do to differentiate themselves and gain a bigger share of voice.
  • Crisis Comms: If companies didn’t understand the importance of crisis communications prior to 2020, they certainly (hopefully) do now. Good crisis communicators have to act quickly, but they also have to “read the room.” Social listening helps with both, enabling comms teams to spot red flags and act quickly when problems arise, while also giving them insight into how audiences are feeling about certain topics – and how they should craft their message appropriately.
  • Growth Opportunities: Social listening helps marketers and PR pros better understand their target audiences and the types of content that resonates with them, stay on top of consumer trends, and spot new opportunities to “join the conversation” and get in front of new audiences.
  • Strategic Counsel:As the C-suite relies more heavily on their PR and comms teams to advise on strategy, social listening arms PR and comms pros with the data they need to inform their efforts, gain buy-in from stakeholders and keep their seat at the table.

Why Does Social Listening Matter to You?

The short answer to this question is: Because it matters to your competitors. More and more, companies are seeing the benefits of social listening on their business, and the trend is only going to accelerate. At the risk of sounding dramatic, companies that don’t integrate social listening into their PR, marketing and communications strategies are going to fall behind.  

Mary Lorenz

Mary Lorenz is Editorial Director at Cision and writes about best practices and thought leadership for marketing, communications and public relations professionals. She has a background in marketing, public relations and journalism and over 15 years of experience in copywriting and content strategy across a variety of platforms, industries and audiences.