Media intelligence: understanding the true meaning of press coverage and social sentiment

Today, organizations have more data at their fingertips than ever before and it’s influencing how they conduct business across the board. From identifying new product opportunities to potential new customers, data is becoming increasingly essential in both business and marketing efforts.

However, this rapid influx of information can be a double-edged sword making it essential to identify and analyze the right type of information. Communicators are now faced with the complex challenge of not only understanding basic facts like media reach or tone, but to also monitor public sentiment and whether opinions are coming from influential buyers or pundits or less-impactful individuals and what effect it has on your brand.

It is much harder to get that particular nuance and contextual understanding through pure volume of data.

Traditionally, companies have only been able to derive public perception through article reach, impressions and arbitrary indicators of tone. Now it’s essential to focus on what’s really important to the business by digging deeper into reputation drivers and customer sentiment.

So, what can CMOs do to understand the true meaning of press coverage and social sentiment?

Align with business goals

With tons of media data and metrics at your fingertips, you need to start with the ability to analyze the data that’s most relevant to your organization. Media analysis needs to be an integral part of the planning process.

By tying your goals and results to the overall goals of the business, you can better understand how to show that your work is impacting those goals. This is a critical step when creating the framework for collecting media information to analyze – for both social and traditional media. When you collect more accurately you can then trust what you are analyzing.

The caveat to aligning with business goals is that they are usually concept-based and vary from brand to brand. A consumer lifestyle company will have different goals than a national bank or large software company. Many enterprise-level goals align to topics like innovation” or thought leadership or Corporate Social Responsibility.

The communications team could set goals similar the following:

  • Decrease our negative SOV for our brand driver “workplace environment” against our peers in the southeast
  • Increase engagement with third party influencers (regulators, academics, pundits) who are mentioned in articles with high volumes of sharing and/or influential followers.
  • Create campaigns to increase our positive sentiment for our brand quality-themed thought leadership

Measure more effectively

Once you properly align analysis with your communication goals, you need to find new ways to measure traction and results. It’s important to note that all mentions are not created equal. When analyzing media results, so much more should be considered than just reach. It’s essential to consider the writer’s tone and article context.

For instance, as your experts build a reputation they’ll be tapped to provide insight into controversial or negative topics. Traditionally these articles might be identified by a monitoring tool as negative; however, the comments can be very positive for your organization.

Similarly, we often see sarcasm used on social media which can be misinterpreted as a positive mention when it’s potentially damaging. This can be challenging to detect and traditionally many programs stop short of actually contextualizing a positive statement in an otherwise negative article.

Comparison metrics need a good baseline. When planning and executing events, like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) for example, Consumer Technology Association (CTA) monitors CES sentiment against other shows that cover similar topics. They can closely track the overall perception of the show, including positive, negative and neutral both year-over-year, and also against the competition. With the hope that the perception remains positive and increases over time, you can measure against the baseline and use data from past events.

To measure effectively you don’t need to boil the ocean, especially when you clearly understand the media that means the most to you. In both cases of B2C and B2B – you can focus data collection on specific publications to truly understand the value. For some organizations, a trade or industry publication may carry more weight with their audience than a large, national business news source.

Be proactive and predictive

It’s important to start analyzing and measuring immediately. Now that you’re aligned with business goals and assessing effectively, you can use real-time data to inform the communications program. Often, communicators only think to measure media impact after a campaign, but they miss a huge opportunity to alter and optimize results while the campaign is still active.

Another way to be strategically proactive is to identify whitespace. Based on current data, is there a topic in the industry that no one owns yet, not even competitors? Secondly, look at the authors and publications that write about your industry and peers to see who you should be targeting. Some writers may not post high volumes but their social sharing reach is very high, or they might be covering every company in the industry but you.

By actively identifying key areas of opportunity and shifting your mindset, you can measure and modify your program accordingly.

The key to remember is companies don’t need more datathey just need to utilize it better. Excessive metrics can look impressive but prove to be irrelevant and a waste of resources. By identifying business goals and measuring again them proactively, you can truly find the data sweet spot to inform strategy and lead to great results.

– by Ruth Wiederecht


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