Media monitoring 2.0: from output to insight
Media monitoring is hot and indispensable in the life of the Marketing and Communications professional. Measuring is knowing and indeed in our current era, the possibilities are endless. The number of monitoring tools and digital solutions is growing and everything can be measured nowadays. So we have to take note of that, right? Data is everywhere and collecting, monitoring, and analysing it has never been easier. And yet we now face challenges. How do we deal with fake news? And how can we continue to find relevance in our data and translate it into understanding, and, eventually, concrete action? In part 1 of this blog series, we will discuss the shift that is needed in the media monitoring landscape and how to apply this to your media monitoring strategy.
It starts with the ‘why’
Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, who hasn’t heard of it? He believes that, in order to be successful, you, as a company, must start with the ‘why’ question and then from there give substance to the ‘how’ and ‘what’. This sounds logical, and is already being used by many organisations nowadays, yet there are still plenty of us who mainly communicate with ‘how’ and ‘what’.
This model is practical and therefore easy to apply towards other strategies and everyday matters. As a Marketing and Communication professional, it is important to constantly ask yourself why you do what you do. Why do you make certain decisions? Why is this your strategy? Which positioning and profiling themes do you choose, and why? Why do you communicate this via core messages X and Y and via medium Z?
This can then also be translated by monitoring and measuring; why do you even need to monitor at all? Why do you need this output? What do you want, and what can you do with this? How does it help to prove your strategy?
“Monitoring for the sake of monitoring is useless, and a waste of time, money and energy.”
Measure what you want you want to measure, and do it right
Work from strategic communication objectives and the policies that have been formed around them. It may be that these are not clearly formulated, it can then help to look at the overall organisational strategy (a.k.a. the umbrella). What is our positioning and why do we do what we do? How do we give substance to this through communication, and what is needed for this? Starting with the ‘why’ ensures that there is more focus on the core tasks and strategic projections and less waste on the issues of the day.
The same applies to monitoring and its implementation. Monitoring can be seen as the ‘how’, formed by the ‘why’ and resulting in the ‘what’. But on its own it’s not at all meaningful. Take a look at the example below:
WHY: Sustainability is an important pillar for our positioning in 2019. We want to create more proactive media visibility and positive tenor, and convey the right message to the right stakeholders via the right medium, and to be able to continually improve these things where necessary.
HOW: Monitoring media visibility, reach, sentiment, stakeholders, media sources, and core messages
WHAT: Insight into the impact of proactive activities and communication in owned and earned media
As you can see, the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ say little without the ‘why’. Moreover, defining this not only helps you to bring more focus onto media monitoring activities, but also creates internal support to convince management of investments. After all, you are providing insight into what monitoring can deliver.
Gaining more insight and overview
In order to bring focus and relevance into your media monitoring activities, it is important to coordinate these with communication and / or business strategy and initiatives.
Take KLM, for example, which communicates extensively on their website regarding important topics that are important for and have relevance to the company, and how all of this is handled.
As a communication professional, it is useful to use these types of topics as a guide for media monitoring in order to gain insight into the impact of the efforts around these themes. To what extent does what you promise and say as an organisation match with what you actually do? To what extent are your core messages taken (in the right way) in the media, and do they ultimately end up with the right target group? In this way you can monitor in a more targeted way and you will find it easier to find the right reporting that really matters.
“Take control of media monitoring yourself, instead of being overwhelmed by an overload of news.”
In the case of KLM, it is therefore relevant to monitor the media impact of efforts on, for example, the theme “KLM takes care” and the proportion of proactive reporting or the core messages that are in the media landscape.
From output to insight
Once you have focused on your media monitoring by making the link with strategic themes, it is important to also provide a context. Good stuff, all that monitoring of themes and topics, but what does this output tell me? Are we doing well? Are we on track? What drives this?
It only becomes interesting if you can integrate the data output and link it to objectives and KPIs. You can either set the output against this to be able to judge which buttons you need to push, or use this output to formulate the KPIs. With the latter, you can use monitoring as a baseline measurement for building your KPIs.
If we use the aforementioned example of Organisation X as a starting point, the transformation from output to insight looks like this:
Assume that the output from monitoring in January 2019 is 500 messages (5% of total media coverage) in the theme Sustainability. 15% of these messages are the result of your own initiatives / PR (proactive) and 10% have a positive tone of voice. It appears that the top 3 core messages are only visible on regional news sites.
In itself, the above output doesn’t really say anything. The question that comes to mind is probably “so what?”. Here is the context; in January 2019, organisation X had a target of at least 10% reporting on the Sustainability theme, and, in addition to this, KPIs of at least 10% proactive reporting, 5% positive sentiment, and media-wide visibility regarding the top 3 core messages.
By making the link between objectives and KPIs, the output immediately has meaning. What insights do we get from making this link? Visibility on Sustainability in January is below expectations (5% vs. 10%), but is more proactive (15% vs. 10%) and more positive (10% vs. 5%) than expected. In other words, the company’s initiatives have had an impact and have been taken with the right tone of voice, but the visibility is still limited. In addition, there is apparently a mismatch with our objective of media-wide visibility and the core messages. Why do our core messages seem to land so well at regional news sites? And what steps can we take to boost media visibility across the entire board?
By approaching and organising media monitoring from the ‘why’ standpoint, you create relevance and value, have an overview, and you maintain control. This shift is very important and will give you the incentive to be able to focus more on the impact of strategic projects and programs, and to be able to demonstrate the added value of this to the management of your organisation. In part 2 of this blog series, we will elaborate further on this process of providing evidence and creating internal support at the management level.