A comprehensive guide to media monitoring + TOOLS

digital agency, digital marketing agency, digital marketing

A comprehensive guide to media monitoring + TOOLS

Media monitoring is a process of collecting publicly available pieces of information mentioning a particular topic. Back in the day, media monitoring was literally a cut-and-paste job. People had to manually search for articles containing specific topics, and cut and paste them into a dedicated clipbook.

Fast-forward a century and a half and media monitoring services are in even bigger demand. With the development of technology, the Internet, and the wider access to information, media monitoring is becoming more and more important. These days, it is an automated process thanks to many media monitoring tools.

Media monitoring service is widely used in public relations to track press releases and stay on top of all pieces of data concerning your client. Tracking and analysing media coverage is one of the challenges many PR pros face daily.

What is media monitoring and analysis?

Media monitoring is the process of monitoring media outlets in search of pieces of information mentioning particular topics. Information found in the media can have commercial, business, or scientific value.

Media coverage should cover as many relevant sources as possible. Many media monitoring software track sources such as: radio, TV, print, and the Internet, including social media.

These days, it’s the Internet that becomes the most important information carrier. It’s particularly important in business, as a lot of commerce these days happens on the Internet.

In business, pieces of relevant data collected by a media monitoring platform can give a valuable insight into the public perception of your brand, company, PR and marketing campaign, products, services, or your competitors.

With monitoring and analysis combined, you can take care of numerous areas of business, including:

  • Brand monitoring
  • Online reputation management
  • Customer support
  • Customer feedback
  • Crisis management
  • Public relations, including improving media coverage and media relations
  • Earned media value
  • Market research
  • PR and marketing campaign analytics
  • Hashtag analytics
  • Competition research

How does media monitoring work?

Ok, you know what media monitoring is and how it can affect your business bottom line, but how does it work?

Monitoring online conversations around your organization is a piece of cake. Dedicated tools will collect every mention in real-time. The whole process can be broken down into easy steps:

  • Choose the keywords you want to monitor. Media monitoring services will comb the Internet to search for every mention containing your keyword.
  • Depending on your media monitoring goal, choose the analytics metric you are going to track closely. Many companies track their content performance, their competitors, or data about their industry.
  • Spread the insights you got from media monitoring across your organization. Whether you create a customisable media monitoring report or dedicated Slack integration, make sure that all parties involved get the news they need.

The success of your media monitoring depends on properly setting up your project and knowing how to react to the collected insights.

Step 1. Decide what do you want to monitor

First and foremost, you need to know what you want to achieve by using media monitoring platforms. In the beginning, ask yourself what kind of data will best fulfil your needs. It may be mention about your brand’s reputation, your competitors’ marketing campaign results, or maybe trends in your industry?

You should always monitor your own brand. Monitoring your company will provide two types of information:

  • you will know what, where, and who is talking about your company and how and what changes over time. This will help you assess the performance of your marketing campaigns and identify your biggest supporters and detractors. You will be able to mitigate the results of bad publicity.
  • over time, the results of media monitoring will help you set up benchmarks. You will know whether you are making progress or not.

By monitoring yourself, you are in control of the narrative around your brand. You get the business insights needed to shape the story about your company. You know how earned media are describing your company.

Moreover, you should monitor your competitors.

To grow, you need to stay ahead of your competitors. The first step in becoming an industry leader, is to know what your competitors are doing.

Media monitoring will pull all the information needed in one place. You will know what your competitors are saying, what campaigns are they using, which channels, and much more.

The last topic you should keep a finger on is industry monitoring.

If you want to become an industry leader, you need to know it by heart. The more you know, the more efficient you can operate.

Step 2. Set up a project

In general, media monitoring tools track every public mention containing your predefined keywords. Most of the tools cover a variety of sources and include social media monitoring.

This is the most critical part of the media monitoring process. The tools will collect mentions containing your selected keywords, so it determines the data you’ll get.

That’s why you should pay attention to keywords and choose them wisely to get the best possible data.

Keywords should be strongly associated with the topic you want to follow. For example, if you want to track mentions about your brand, I’d recommend keywords such as:

  • You brand name
  • Your product or service name
  • Your branded hashtag
  • Thematically related hashtag or phrase
  • first and last name of your CEO and other well-known employees

Step 3. Gather and analyse results

Media monitoring tools look up and analyze publicly available online content from websites and social media platforms, based on the API of these platforms.

The analysis part is one of the most valuable parts of media tracking projects.

Media monitoring tools analyse gathered data and present them in an actionable way.

What pieces of information will media monitoring give you?

  • The volume of mentions. That’s a basic media monitoring metric. It will tell you how popular your keyword is and on which platforms
  • Sentiment analysis. Analysing the mentions by sentiment will tell you how your audience feels about your brand, product, or service.
  • Estimated reach. To know how many people could have seen your posts. This metric will help you measure the results of marketing or brand awareness campaigns. Brand24 will calculate both non-social and social media reach.
  • Trending hashtags. Carefully generated list of trending hashtags that will help you boost your brand visibility and reach new audiences.
  • The share of voice. The share of voice will indicate what part of the market your brand owns compared to your competitors.
  • Top public profiles. Media monitoring platforms will identify social media accounts talking about your product. This metric can help you run an influencer marketing campaign.

Types of media monitoring tools

The type of media monitoring tool you should choose depends on your needs and budget.

In general, we can distinguish three types of media monitoring tools:

  • free media monitoring tools
  • affordable media monitoring tools
  • premium media monitoring tools

Moreover, you can find tools that specialise in social media monitoring. Even if you mainly focus on building social media presence, I would recommend investing in media monitoring software that covers a variety of sources.

Free media monitoring tools

Free media monitoring tools, for example, Google Alerts, are a great solution, especially if you don’t have the funds to pay monthly fees.

The tools will collect publicly available mentions, but that’s all they will do. You won’t be able to see the analytics section, set up reports or custom notifications.

Still, an imperfect media monitoring tool is better than no media monitoring tool at all.

Affordable media monitoring tools

An example of an affordable yet robust media monitoring tool is Brand24.

Brand24 will automate most of the processes and will give you all the numbers and insights you need for reputation management.

In this type of media monitoring tool, you set up your project (a dedicated agent might help you with that) and automatically get all the data you need.

In the dashboard, you will find all the metrics you need to assess your brand health. To get the most actionable set of data, you can apply various filters to your project. For example, you can filter by date, influence, sources of mention, or language.

Another feature you might find useful in media monitoring tools is sharing. It should be easy to add new users to the project as well as export the data in form of a report.

Media monitoring tool will collect all publicly available mentions and give information about:

  • the reach of mentions
  • sentiment analysis
  • volume of mentions
  • social media interactions
  • most active locations
  • the most popular public profiles

Moreover, with help from a paid media monitoring service you should be able to generate PDF reports, integrate the tool with external communicators, for example, Slack, and set up the most convenient notifications system.

Premium media monitoring tools

Premium media monitoring tools cost a lot of money and are dedicated to the big players.

The main difference between paid and premium monitoring tools is that premium monitoring tools offer a dedicated consultant. You don’t have to analyse the results yourself. Some of them also offer a coverage of print media and let you create media lists. Media lists contains contact details of journalists and other news sources who will be happy to receive a press releases from you.

This is especially important when you have a project with a high number of results. In that case it’s hard to separate the valuable sources from the Internet noise. Consultants can help you create custom reports and they will make sure that sentiment analysis is spot on.

Media monitoring tools

To effectively apply all the benefits media monitoring has to offer, you need a robust media monitoring tool. Here is a list of the best media monitoring tools available on the market.

We present a wide range of tools, so that you can choose one that will fulfil your needs. You can choose between a robust and affordable media monitoring service, enterprise solution, or a free tool that will notify you about publicly available mention.

Brandwatch is a media monitoring tool for enterprise clients.
This media monitoring tool offers advanced analytics features. Brandwatch will not only collect and analyse the data in real time. They developed a social media intelligence platform called Vizia, which will give you actionable insights that will help you bring your company to another level.
Price: Brandwatch pricing is available upon request.
Check: Brandwatch Alternatives
Google Alerts
On the other side of the spectrum we have Google Alerts – alternative to the tools described above.
Google Alerts is a free media monitoring tool. The tool will collect publicly available mentions containing your predefined keyword and deliver the report to your mailbox.
Unfortunately, that is all this media monitoring tool can do. It does not offer any analytics option, nor can you create a report. The functionality of the tool is quite limited.
Price: Google Alerts is a free media monitoring tool.
Talkwalker is another robust media monitoring tool that focuses on delivering results to corporate and enterprise-level accounts.
Talkwalker covers owned and earned media in 187 languages. The tool can deliver the most important and impactful information using advanced AI.
The tool analyses the data in real-time. You also get access to 2 years of historic data.
It’s a perfect tool for tracking press releases. Your PR team will appreciate robust analytics platform.
Price: The Basic package starts at $6,000, information about corporate and enterprise plans are available upon request.
SEMrush is an SEO tool that offers media monitoring as one of its features.
It is an interesting combination. If you are mainly interested in tracking unlinked brand mentions and developing your SEO strategy, take a look at SEMrush.
Bear in mind that the scope of the tool is limited to finding brand mentions you can use for elevating your SEO positioning. It will be hard to use it for PR applications.
Price: SEMrush starts at $99.95 per month. The media monitoring tool offers a free trial.
Sprout Social
Sprout Social is a social media management software with a strong social media monitoring component.
You can apply social listening to your strategy and find the most useful insights that will boost your online presence.
Social media management will help you with day-to-day activities. You will be able to schedule posts on major social media channels, for example, Twitter or Instagram. Moreover, you can track campaign performance, respond to incoming messages, and prepare social media reports. Sprout Social is one of the best social media monitoring software on the market.
Price: This social media monitoring tool starts at $99 per month and offers free trial period.
Prowly is one of a kind listening tool.
Prowly will help track your press relases and manage your media lists. It’s a great tool for any PR pros that are mostly interested in working with media outlets rather than tracking their Twitter, Instagram, or Web sources.
Prowly will help you manage your media contacts, your owned content, and press releases.
Price: The basic plan starts at $210 per month and the tool offers a free trial.
Tweetdeck is one of the social media monitoring tools that focus on Twitter. You can manage multiple Twitter accounts from one dashboard and monitor closely this social media channel.
You can see all the data, separated in four different columns and get an immediate overview of Twitter activity.
Price: Tweetdeck is free social media monitoring tool.
Keyhole is another strong player when it comes to social media monitoring tools.
Its robust social listening features allows you to track hashtags across different social media channels, for example, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter.
Keyhole allows you to analyse trending topics so you can stay one step ahead of your competition.
Keyhole is one of the best social media monitoring tools for collecting and analysing data from social media. Unfortunately, Keyhole does not offer social media management platform.
Price: Social media monitoring starts at $49 per month.
Reputology is a social media monitoring tool that focuses on online reputation management. The tool focuses on collecting media mentions from review sites, for example, Yelp, Google, or Facebook.
Your PR team can respond quickly to any negative reviews and nip any crisis in the bud. Seasoned PR pros will help you leverage the positive reviews .
Reputology is the perfect solution for someone who wants to track reviews of different businesses across multiple locations. Unfortunately, it does not offer social media monitoring features.
What should you monitor?
For your project to be successful, you need to monitor the right keywords. A good media monitoring tool will help you separate the wheat from the chaff and get the most actionable insights possible.
So, what should you include in your media monitoring project?
No matter which media monitoring tool you choose, always monitor your brand. Track your brand across different services and news sites.
Tracking your organization will help you find out who is talking about you and what they are saying.
You will identify your biggest supporters and detractors. This knowledge will help you target your campaigns and keep your finger on all pieces of content posted by detractors. Their mentions may lead to a potential crisis.
It’s vital to monitor your company through a long time period. That way you will be able to set up benchmarking metrics. Benchmarking gives context to all the data you’ve collected.
Whether you are an industry leader or new to the game, you need to know what other organizations are up to.
Every newcomer knows that it’s important to see what the big fish is doing and what is the secret behind their success. Even if you want to disrupt the market, you need to know what are fighting against.
Established industry leaders should keep an eye on all other organizations that want to take their position and clients.
If you want to succeed you need to know what is going in your industry. Are there any new trends you should be aware of?
Media monitoring will help you be the first to know of anything new happening.
Which sources does media monitoring cover?
Media monitoring used to be limited to print and broadcast media. It all changed with the rise of the Internet. Now, you have to gather every mention about your organization and industry to make the most informed decisions. Even if they appear on a platform you are completely unfamiliar with.
Where should you look for the content that interests you?
All cloud-based media monitoring tools cover the majority of online sources. The scope of monitoring and the number of mentions in the project depend on the media monitoring software of your choice. For example, Brand24 monitors blogs, forums, online news sites, podcasts, newsletters, and other publicly available online sources.
Print media
Newspapers and magazines make up a big portion of media monitoring. Some target audiences still consider print media an important sources of information. The good news is, most newspapers and magazines have online edition, so you can easily track them with an online media monitoring tool.
Streaming services are a substantial threat to TV and cable networks. But television still has a substantial advantage over Netflix and other services. The same applies to radio. Many of us have already forgotten about this medium, but radio programs reached the majority of American population.
Social media
Social media monitoring should be an integral part of your project. Many conversations about your industry or organization will take place on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. But don’t neglect other social media platforms! YouTube is now second most-used search engine. It’s important to appear in their search results.
Social media monitoring will help you find relevant conversations about your company and jump into them. This process is called social listening. You will be able to measure the results of your campaigns, discover what type of content generates the highest engagement levels, and measure the earned media value. It’s important to choose a social media monitoring tool that collects mentions in real-time.
Why is media monitoring important?
The importance of media monitoring, particularly online and social media monitoring, increases.
Consumers use the Internet to share their experiences, exchange ideas, seek product recommendations. These days, every person with a smartphone and Internet connection can become content creator and with one’s opinion can influence the perception of a brand, or product. That’s a goldmine of business intelligence. Social listening services can substantially boost your business.
For businesses with online presence, it’s a huge opportunity and a challenge: to reach consumers, shape, and manage their perception, and, ultimately, win trust.
Having this in mind, it’s good to know what’s being said about your business online: by your happy and unhappy customers, by industry media, or competitors. Real-time media monitoring will help you stay on top of things.
We live in the age of information, in a society constantly connected to the Internet. What is being said about your company or product can travel thousands of miles within minutes.
You can’t be in the dark when it comes to crucial mentions regarding your business.
How exactly media monitoring can help you grow your business?
1. Monitor brand reputation
Bad news travels fast. Bad news online travel even faster. Online news can spread across social media within minutes and harm your reputation.
That’s why you should keep your finger on media coverage around your company.
Media monitoring can help you build and protect your brand reputation.
Media monitoring can help you identify potential crises and mitigate the negative effects. With a correctly set up project, you will receive mentions containing your keyword in real-time. Once you receive a notification about a new mention, you can react right away, preventing a crisis from escalating.
Media monitoring can help you control the narrative around your brand. You will become a more active player when it comes to the online presence of your company. Moreover, you will be able to control earned media coverage effectively.
2. Prevent crises
Sooner or later, you will face a crisis. Whether you come away unscathed from the crisis situation depends largely on how well you’ll be able to prepare and fight the crises. The key element of crisis management is spotting a negative mention early.
A crisis can hit from the most unexpected place, for example, one of your vendors, subsidiaries, or suppliers.
A media monitoring platform will help you stay one step ahead of online news, giving you enough time to react to negative mentions and protecting your brand.
Media monitoring can help you control the market perception of your brand and your associates.
3. Know your audience
At the end of the day, the most important aspect of your work is serving your target audience the best way you can and doing it better than your competitors.
To gain the competitive advantage, you need to listen to online conversations of your customers and identify their pain points.
Media monitoring is all about listening. Listening to your existing and potential clients will help you deliver exactly the experience, product, or service they desire.
Moreover, you will know how to reach them more effectively. The key to successful communication is to find common language with your interlocutor. Media monitoring is an ideal way to get to know your target audience better.
4. Measure the results of PR and marketing campaigns
You need to measure the results of your marketing and PR campaigns. Otherwise, you will not know what is working to your advantage, how to improve your communication and marketing strategy.
Since the main goal of many campaigns is to raise your brand awareness and promote your product or service, you need to know how the campaign resonates with your target audience. Communications professionals can gain a lot of valuable insights just by listening to online conversations of their existing and potential customers.
Media monitoring helps track the reach and sentiment of your campaigns, giving you insights on what went well and which aspects need improvement.
5. Identify public profiles for influencer campaigns
Identifying influencers is especially important when you’re choosing one of social media monitoring tools.
Endorsements from recognisable public profiles can help verify your brand, products, or services. They will help you build trust in your company, helping you to get ahead of your competitors. Tracking your industry will help you find the right media opportunities for your brand.
The key to a successful endorsement is to find the right influencers. One that has authority in your niche, is trustworthy, and can genuinely promote your product.
Media monitoring finds people already talking about your business niche, product, or service.
A media monitoring tool will give you a list of public profiles you can investigate further. This helps you make the most informed decision that will benefit your brand.
6. Report the results of your PR campaign
PR and communications professionals should be able to present the results of their work to their supervisors. One of the ways to show the impact your work has had on your organisation is to present a media monitoring report.
Brand24 offers customisable media monitoring reports where you can choose the data you want to show to your supervisor or colleagues. Depending on the goal of your PR campaign, you can choose the metrics and sources that represent your work adequately.
Should you use media monitoring?
Once you discover the benefits of media monitoring, another question arises: is media monitoring a solution you can successfully implement in your company? Will it bring any value that will justify the spending?
There are a number of business entities that will benefit from media monitoring, starting with startups and SME, through large corporations and ending with public administration and governments. Many PR and communications professionals can’t imagine their work without a dedicated social media monitoring and news monitoring tool.
Media monitoring for SME and start-ups
Small and medium enterprises and start-ups are mainly focused on building their brand awareness and community around their brand. One of the most important features for them is real-time media monitoring. Moreover, their tool of choice should cover social media monitoring.
Media monitoring can help them stay on top of things.
Tracking all the mentions regarding their brand, product, or service, can have multiple benefits, for example:
  • building customer relationships by identifying the channels where your audience is present and reaching them directly
  • building brand awareness by engaging with your target audience
  • protecting your brand reputation by spotting negative mentions early
  • measuring the reach of your hashtag marketing campaigns
  • identifying trending hashtags to increase your reach on social media platforms
Media monitoring for enterprises
Large companies and corporations should implement a different approach to media monitoring.
Enterprises usually generate much more mentions than SMEs and startups. Therefore, they are not interested in analysing the results mention-by-mention. They need an overview of their media coverage combined with robust analytics.
A cloud-based media monitoring software will improve your overall business strategy. Media monitoring will help you:
  • never miss industry trends early so you will always be one step ahead of your competitors
  • be aware of all critical mentions that could hurt your brand reputation
  • keep a finger on your competitors actions and marketing campaigns
  • analyse customer feedback to get the most valuable and actionable insights
Media monitoring for NGO
Media tracking can be a powerful tool for NGOs and advocacy organisations.
For this type of organisation, brand awareness and brand reputation is everything. Brand awareness helps you reach a wider audience with your content. The more people are aware of the problem you are trying to solve, the more you can do about it.
A cloud-based media monitoring platform will help you track conversations from all news sources or social media channels.
In communications professionals working at NGOs, trust is everything. Not only you have to closely monitor what people say about your organisation; you have to know what your partners and suppliers are up to. Their brand reputation crisis can inadvertently hurt your organisation.
Media monitoring and brand reputation
Let’s talk some more about different applications of media monitoring. We already established that online conversations can hurt organizations.
Media monitoring can help you prepare for a public relations crisis.
The first step to recover from a PR crisis is to be aware of the situation happening. I bet you can recall at least a couple of companies that get into serious trouble by not responding to negative news in time.
Bad news travels fast, and bad news online travels even faster. A crisis can affect different aspects of your organisation. A badly-handled crisis can have an effect on your reputation or stock prices. Moreover, fighting the negative effects will take time and money.
Prepare before a crisis
Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
Preparation is one of the key elements when it comes to dealing with a crisis. You should invest in a crisis response plan that will outline who is responsible for crisis communication, how the problem will be tackled, what messages will be sent to the press, etc.
Many companies run crisis drills. Every member of the crisis response team can practice their role, identify any shortcomings and improve the plan.
Media monitoring will help you in two ways.
First, you should monitor mentions regarding your brand. Pay special attention to mentions from social media. Complaints made on various social media platforms tend to catch people’s attention.
Secondly, you should monitor mentions regarding your main competitors. You can learn from your competitors’ mistakes. What’s more, you might be blamed by association.
During the crisis
Media monitoring is essential during a PR crisis.
Once the crisis erupts, you want to be the first one to know about it. That’s why you need real-time media monitoring with a robust alert system.
Media monitoring will help you catch complaints made by your customers and react to the problems before they escalate. Moreover, a media monitoring tool will monitor the sentiment. That will help you assess the severity of the crisis.
Brand24 offers various type of notifications that will help you stay on top of things, for example:
  • Slack notifications
  • email alerts
  • in-app notifications
When it comes to handling a PR crisis every minute counts. Media monitoring will give you the extra time to react to the situation.
After the crisis
The last, but not the least. Once the crisis is over you should take a look at all the actions you evaluate in your crisis management plan.
Monitoring the conversation around your brand will give you necessary insights into how to restore your brand reputation.
Evaluating your crisis response will help you protect your company against any new threats that might emerge.
6 tips from media monitoring experts
Now that you are acquainted with media monitoring and you know some of the best practices, it’s high time to discuss additional tips in that matter. Below you will find a few of our tips as media monitoring experts. These will make you stand out from your competition and allow you to become a power user of tools like Brand24 and elevate your monitoring strategy to the next level!
1. Set alerts
Most media monitoring tools let you set alerts and notifications for some events happening in your projects. For example, Brand24 sends you daily notifications by default, but additionally, you can set Storm Alerts. These alerts will notify you when there’s a huge spike in mentions occurring in one of your projects.
For PR management, these Storm Alerts can help you quickly identify and overcome a PR crisis. Social marketers can use them to implement real-time marketing. 
Check if your media monitoring tool of choice features a mobile app, like Brand24. If you want to be up to date with new mentions you can install the app on your mobile and get instant push notifications.
2. Monitor in the target language
Many marketers repeat the mistake of not monitoring in their language, especially if you operate on a local market. 
This way, you can filter out the results that shouldn’t concern you. 
What is very important when monitoring in the local language is to remember about declension. Be sure to include all possible pronunciations of your brand no avoid missing some mentions.
Brand24 offers media monitoring in 20+ languages, including Polish, German, Spanish, Turkish, and more.
3. Keyword monitoring
Not only should you be interested in setting up monitoring projects with your brand name, but also you should identify some keywords and key phrases for your market niche. 
For example, if your business is a social listening app, you’d like to have a project for monitoring the phrase “social listening”.
Why? First of all, you will be able to identify your competition and discover new and emerging rivals. Secondly, you can find potential brand ambassadors (more on that in point 6). And finally, you can enrich your linkbuilding campaign with found keyword mentions.
4. Boost your hashtag strategy with media monitoring
By following people actively talking about your brand you can also elevate your hashtag strategy.
By monitoring social media and following influencers you will see what hashtags they are using. In Brand24, you can see trending hashtags around your monitored keyword inside the project, in the analysis section. 
5. Identify the most influential people in your niche
Tools like Brand24 let you identify potential brand ambassadors within the app. If your strategy includes influencers, then you should use media monitoring for looking for people that talk a lot about your brand or market niche. 
There are numerous advantages of influencer marketing, and if you want to partake in this type of advertising, media monitoring apps will help you a lot.
6. Share the data with your coworkers
“Sharing is caring”, as some people say. It’s a part of internal marketing. A lot of publications that are collected via monitoring social media and other websites are missed by your coworkers. 
Sharing success stories of your brand among other employees boosts morale and general satisfaction of work.
As a part of the PR management strategy, you can also share the media monitoring data with your investors (especially if they look good). It’s vital to remain excellent relations with the investors, and showing them how good your brand is prospering will only confirm them that working with you is worth it.
Do you need media monitoring?
To sum up, media monitoring can be a beneficial tool if we use it properly and understand how it works.
Thanks to its data and features, you can get valuable knowledge about your brand’s online presence, our competitors, stay up-to-date with trends in our industry, and improve our customers’ experience.


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