Master Class: How will tools for media monitoring evolve in 2012 to ensure better results?

Whatever way monitoring tools evolve during 2012, PR pros will place increasing emphasis on the quality of data produced by their monitoring software.

Johna Burke
SVP, marketing and comms

Anne Fenice
Director, Critical MAS (Metrics, Analysis, Systems), Yahoo

Robert Grupp
Immediate past president and CEO, Institute for Public Relations

Sean Morgan
CEO, Critical Media

Brett Safron
SVP, product management, Cision

Johna Burke, SVP, marketing and comms, BurrellesLuce:
Whatever way monitoring tools evolve during 2012, PR pros will place increasing emphasis on the quality of data produced by their monitoring software. As they elevate the role of quality data, practitioners will expect a higher degree of customer support from a monitoring provider.

They will demand not only software, but software plus service.

This trend will be fueled by a powerful imperative: Practitioners are paying very close attention to how they allocate their time. That is part of a determined effort to maximize productivity in a professional world that now runs on an accelerated 24/7 schedule.

Time is an asset that cannot be squandered on wasteful and unnecessary activities, such as picking through media coverage to decide which items are relevant and which ones do nothing to drive corporate initiatives.

While all users today employ software as an initial sort, without thorough editing of those preliminary results users have no assurance that their reporting will be accurate. Consequently, third-party evaluation will become an important - and, for some, indispensable - resource.

Along with the migration to service- oriented monitoring providers, there will be growing recognition that monitoring is truly effective only if measurement is made an integral component of the information- gathering and assessment effort. More and more PR professionals will realize that, regardless of the medium, search results need an appropriate context in which they can be interpreted, given meaning, and transformed into actionable intelligence that advances their organization's strategic goals.

Anne Fenice, director, Critical MAS, Yahoo:
Media monitoring services need to provide more than a digest of content pieces and breaking news alerts to stay relevant to PR pros. Historically, these services have been a critical part of a successful PR program, but they need to evolve with the fast-changing industry by differentiating from free monitoring tools, providing data analytics, and tracking new content types.

Every PR pro knows that news alerts and news aggregation sites provide an effective way to capture breaking news on a company for no cost. Monitoring services should differentiate their offerings from those free tools by providing data analytics. Media monitoring without data analysis is no longer a valuable offering. The days when using an articles list exemplified a well-executed PR effort are over.

Content resulting from PR activity needs to be analyzed in order to understand where coverage is appearing, what messages are resonating, and how the brand is being positioned - this will demonstrate if the initiative was successful. Content delivered with data insights also provides the context necessary to better inform strategy decisions. It will also help PR professionals more effectively communicate their discipline's value to the company.

Another challenge for media monitoring tools is capturing all relevant content. As new social media platforms emerge and social content exponentially grows, monitoring tools will need to adapt to include this new content. Online video viewership is also rapidly growing. Monitoring tools must find an effective way to monitor brand references within video content, such as videos appearing on As the media industry continues to transition to digital media, monitoring tools need to keep up with the pace in order to provide the most value.

Robert Grupp, immediate past president and CEO, Institute for Public Relations:
Nothing seems to characterize communications more than the ever-growing number of channels available to communicate with customers and other stakeholders. Increasingly, smart companies learn from every interaction and clients realize that reputations will be won or lost quickly - regardless of where the conversation starts.

"PR and communications are undergoing a major transformation from an impressions-dominated world to an engagement-driven future," explains Tim Marklein, who leads the technology and analytics practices for WCG, in a paper compiled by the Institute for Public Relations Measurement Commission.

Media monitoring traditionally focused on impressions, while engagement rethinks the mix and the approach, focusing more on dialogue, small groups, storytelling, interactivity, and narrowcast media.

Mixing impressions and engagement data can be confusing or distracting if you're not careful. For example, it's tricky to compare different media types, each of which people consume and share differently, and each of which has a different impact on attitudes and behavior.

The solution might be tracking the impressions and engagement together. The first is still a valuable measure of reach, whether it's traditional, digital, and/or social media. What will vary is which metrics matter most and how to track the data in the context of your organization's engagement flow. You might need to adjust the scale of your metrics.

Communications leaders will need to em-brace new metrics and partner with sales leaders and Web teams to connect the data - and ultimately determine what matters most in the context of their business. That's when measurement will really pay off to drive new behaviors, investments, and outcomes for the organization and its stakeholders.

Sean Morgan, CEO, Critical Media:
The coming year will be all about technology innovations to help PR pros adapt to the hyper-fragmented media marketplace. The goal for all business intelligence providers will be to keep building better automated tools and integrating them into intuitive, easy-to-use platforms.

The first change we'll see in 2012 will focus on the growing afterlife of television and radio content. Broadcast programming is no longer discoverable only in one place, which means messages - both positive and negative - are amplified as they proliferate across the Web and through social channels. Monitoring tools will grow to track this afterlife effect of television and radio content so PR pros can understand where clips were shared and syndicated.

Other changes in 2012 will involve additional insights gleaned from conversations taking place in social media. Corporations are already embracing Klout and PeekYou scores and making them a part of their brand monitoring. These social rankings will help PR pros determine whether brand mentions across all platforms - print, radio, online, TV, and social - involve individuals who are influential and persuasive or whether their social footprint is minimal.

Lastly, we expect to see sentiment analysis continue to improve in the coming year. Better natural language processing tools will allow those who conduct media monitoring to get the gist of coverage without having to sift through hours and hours of content. As sentiment technology improves, those who do media monitoring will be able to nearly automate the process of monitoring and focus on actionable news items.

Brett Safron, SVP, product management, Cision:
Because the volume of monitoring content will continue to skyrocket in 2012, the need to manage that volume will be the main driver in the evolution of functionality within media monitoring tools.

Relevant content is sourced from an ever-growing number of influencers. It can quickly inundate anyone who might be interested in following most subjects. Users will demand tools to help make sense of it all.

The most effective tools will combine all types of media content and metrics - both traditional and social - into one campaign- management platform. There, PR pros and marketers will demand engagement tools that let them react to and redistribute this content while tracking all posts be- tween communicators and influencers.

Most critical, though, is the need for a means to weed out the noise. With such a large number of content producers, PR and marketing professionals need to know who has the authority and influence so they can prioritize where to direct their attention in real time.

Influence-identification tools must evolve to give a much more holistic view of those content producers, indicating:

  • When they have authority upon certain topics or subjects;
  • When they have spoken positively or negatively about a product or company;
  • On which sites they are speaking about those topics, subjects, and companies.

We need a contextual reference to know, for example, that a person is indeed an influencer in the subject at hand when speaking on one platform - say, a movie critic on Rotten Tomatoes - versus another one they also frequent.

Wrapping all this functionality into one application will ensure better results, while also keeping everyone from throwing in the towel when faced with the mountain of content in front of us.

The Takeaway

  • Third-party evaluation will become a vital resource in media monitoring.
  • Data analysis as part of media monitoring will help PR professionals more effectively communicate their value to the company.
  • Tools will grow to track the afterlife effect of television and radio content.
  • Influence-identification tools can give PR pros a more holistic view of content producer.

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