The old days of media monitoring involved picking up the daily newspaper while you grabbed a cup of coffee in the morning or having a TV-monitoring service record a segment onto a VHS. It was fairly easy to monitor coverage and, unless the news was big, the story usually began and ended with a single clip. Well, the days of being able to easily track the full lifespan and reach of a story has ended.
Even with PR professionals having an unprecedented number of high-tech tools at their disposal, it takes more than DVRs and search engines to measure the impact of a single article or TV segment. It takes a paradigm shift.
In today's converged media landscape, a newspaper story can appear on the newspaper's website, get excerpted on blogs or syndicated on sister sites, and end up on the Twitter and Facebook feeds of all their readers. The same is true for a TV segment. A clip from the 5 o'clock news broadcast is also on the TV station's website, syndicated on affiliate sites, featured on topical blogs, posted into YouTube, and spread all over Twitter and Facebook. In fact, content produced by a TV news outlet can more than double its terrestrial audience within a week of when it was posted online, and then continue in perpetuity to gain viewership.
For example, one segment that aired on WIAT CBS 42 in Birmingham, AL, had 40,609 TV viewers but more than 1 million online viewers. Another segment that aired on ABC 12 News in Milwaukee, called “News camera captures lawmaker being tackled by police,” received 105,000 TV views but went on to receive almost 50,000 online views on numerous Web outlets.
As a PR professional, if your news is good, you want to make sure that you're effectively tracking it and that your clients or colleagues are aware of its success. If the news is negative, you'll need to again make sure the content is accurately tracked so you can assess its impact on your brand and determine how and where to address it.
Monitoring the life cycle of video content is more difficult than print content. For example, a recent segment headlined “Atheists sue transit authority for rejecting bus ads” was picked up by 60 websites, including news sites and parenting and political blogs. TV content is no longer siloed to a box and discoverable only in one place.
Brand safety depends on knowing both the content of individual video clip and where each clip lives. Is the content positive or negative? Was the clip syndicated onto other sites, YouTube, or other blogs?
But the actual video content is only half the battle. Online video opens up a larger conversation about your brand to everyone who views the clip. For every Twitter or Facebook share, every comment about the video gives viewers an opportunity to speak out on your brand. These viewers, ranging from the competitors to the press to average consumers, create discussions about your brand that have gone unmonitored for too long. These social conversations must be evaluated just like the video and print content to which they are attached.
Today, keeping up with your brand in the media requires that you find this content, examine it, and track its lifespan. It also requires that you recognize that broadcast is not the be all and end all. A sizeable amount of video content has a greater reach online than it did when it originally aired on TV. PR professionals must rethink brand monitoring to track broadcast, print, online, and social, and measure it and educate constituencies on its impact. Anything short of that will fail to provide you with a full picture.
Dave Armon is president of Critical Mention.