Sifting through the information overload

Monitoring companies are expanding their offerings to give deeper analysis of media coverage.

Monitoring companies are expanding their offerings to give deeper analysis of media coverage.

With today's 24/7 news cycle and crowded media space, picking out relevant information from meaningless noise is quite challenging. So, some monitoring services are now widening their coverage scope, and finding ways to gauge the often-unruly world of blogs, user-generated videos, and consumer comments.

Marketing agency Lodging Interactive has launched ChatterGuard, a service that monitors user-generated sites for the hospitality industry. President and CEO DJ Vallauri says it helps companies sift through social media content to find relevant mentions.

However, Michael Giovia, VP of marketing and PR at VMS monitoring service, says although the company recently launched a blog monitoring service, clients' primary demand remains with traditional monitoring.

VMS combines live monitoring with its automated service in the top 50 markets. The company can also track user-generated videos, but as with blogs, it is something that is based on client requests.

But no matter the media that's being monitored, Peter Granat, EVP at Cision, says services should prioritize coverage by reach, message, and tone.

Cision offers summaries of mentions from print, broadcast, online, and social media. The results are ranked in order of relevance, based on individual monitoring criteria, and evaluated for key messages and tone by both human analysts and an automated system.

"Otherwise it's just information overload," Granat says.

As global campaigns become the norm for many companies, Cision also monitors international coverage and translates the foreign news. The company has yet to incorporate blog comments into its analysis, but, increasingly, clients are keeping an eye on this space.

"In the past two years, there has been a big change in the way people are looking at their news clips," says Kye Strance, director of product management at Vocus. Clients have become more interested in quantifying PR efforts with graphics and charts, he adds.

Vocus also uses automated tools to determine client prominence by identifying whether its name is mentioned in the headline, the lead paragraphs, and the length of the article, Strance notes.

However, if the output generated is manageable, some agencies opt to contextualize the data themselves.

Jeff Risley, VP and social media analyst at Barkley PR, uses Vocus as the agency's primary monitoring system, but conducts most of the coverage analysis in-house to cut costs and to use the account team's know-how to gauge tone and messaging, he says.

PR pros also look for new technology to make monitoring more user-friendly. For example, during a crisis, clients care most about speed and ability to respond to press queries from places other than the office.

Public Information Emergency Response (PIER) Systems offers media tools that track coverage from mobile platforms. Joseph Ramallo, director of public affairs at the LA Department of Water and Power, uses PIER to respond to off-hour power outages.

"Real-time alerts allow you to correct mistakes in the same news cycle," he explains.

But for daily monitoring, firms want platforms that let staff work from their desks without extra equipment. Rakesh Agrawal, president and CEO of SnapStream Media, says its enterprise software, modeled like a DVR system, lets users watch and search TV shows with keywords from their desktops.

"It's a way to respond to television with greater agility," Agrawal says.

Chris Livingston, director of technology at Kaplow PR, says the firm uses SnapStream to develop campaigns for consumer-based clients. Because TVs aren't needed to watch programs, Kaplow can assign several staffers to monitor different shows. Watching the full program also lets staff pick up on things that closed-captioning would omit because of misspelled names or incomplete clips.

"That's our main advantage," adds Livingston. "We can now have this instant knowledge of what's going on."

Technique tips


Conduct some of your own analysis of tone and messaging. The account team can often best pick up on nuances of coverage

Ask for the coverage data to be quantified

Narrow your search criteria to focus specifically on a product, campaign, competitor, or industry issue


Rely entirely on closed-caption monitoring. It can misspell a product name or miss a mention

Overlook the importance of monitoring user-generated content

Forget that media is now integrated. If a client's name appears in a print title, it's likely on the Web site, too

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