By Todd Murphy | August 17th, 2018
“They keep missing TV and radio stories that air!”
“They never find any articles from the smaller, weekly newspapers!”
“We keep asking them to fix our search, but nothing changes!”
“They won’t let us out of our contract that auto-renewed!”
If you’ve ever said the above statements, there’s a problem with your current media monitoring service. The good news is there are other news monitoring services. The bad news is your PR effort is suffering because you have no real idea of your media exposure… you are missing mentions.
Tracking earned and placed media exposure has long been the work performed by media monitoring services like BurrellesLuce, Cision, and Universal Information Services. In recent years tech companies have entered the monitoring industry by scraping what they can find on the web and tracking it like news monitoring services. While online media monitoring companies can find many news stories and social media mentions, they cannot find much of the news that has been published in print or broadcast on TV and radio. We will get to the Venn diagrams shortly, but the point is online media monitoring can only find some print, TV, and radio news online IF it is posted. For an additional fee, some of these services will add print or broadcast feeds from a third party, but then you’re relying on two or three providers when all of it could be managed by a single vendor.
So why does this matter? Why make the distinction between online monitoring services and complete media monitoring services? It comes down to how much your PR team can afford to miss from key news outlets. If you only need to see some of your exposure, a sampling of coverage, then online monitoring is sufficient and you can use Google News Alerts. If you need to be as comprehensive as possible, you will need a complete media monitoring service. Here are several real scenarios that may be happening to you. These situations indicate your PR team is not seeing important media exposure… and not able to react strategically or measure accurately.
The online monitor found one story posted to a TV station website, and therefore the impact of that story may appear to be limited only to the audience that reads what was online at that station. Do you know if the story was broadcast? Do you know the potential total audience for that story IF it was broadcast? How many more people saw that story if it aired at 5pm, 6pm, and 11pm?
- By evaluating the impressions and impact from a single post on a TV station website, but not the broadcast impact, you may grossly underestimate the true exposure of a story.
- For local news, the aggregate audience for multiple airings will invariably be much larger than a single posting to the station website. This is true for radio and newspapers as well.
Your news monitoring service primarily tracks what is posted online. They say newspapers, TV and radio are included. What they really mean is that they are monitoring the websites for the TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers that post their content online. How can this be a problem?
- The real danger here is three-fold. First, some TV stations don’t post all stories to their websites. This is especially true in very small markets where a station has a limited digital marketing budget. In these cases monitoring a TV station website gives you no indication that your story aired in that market within the broadcast. Even more problematic is you don’t know how many times the particular story aired. A monitor that is recording broadcasts as they air will ensure you get what you expect.
- Radio stations are notorious for posting unrelated content, subjects engineered to attract visitors to their website. Now while some radio stations will provide access to their podcasts, it is most common for them to not include any real text description of the stories mentioned within those podcasts. In these cases you’ll never see a hit in your monitoring report from that radio station, and certainly never know how many times your story was mentioned throughout their news blocks. We index all the radio coverage we monitor by converting the audio to text, the only reliable way to monitor radio broadcasts.
- Lastly, print sources like newspapers and magazines often put their most important content behind a paywall. Without a subscription to get you beyond that paywall, your web monitoring service will only see select stories or snippets of stories, none of which may contain your keywords. Again, here you would miss out on all that earned media exposure and potential impact on your target audience. A monitor that has a press clipping component will read and extract the articles you need from published sources. True, that is not easy, but your PR team won’t miss critical stories.
What about when the online service integrates a press clipping feed from another news monitoring service? Your need for published news improves greatly, but now you have the problem of making sure your search parameters are correctly interpreted by a vendor once removed from a direct relationship.
- Communication becomes more stretched when you have one vendor trying to communicate with downstream providers, rather than have a direct relationship with one vendor that can do it all. I’ve worked with my new customers coming from multi-vendor solutions, complaining of search strategy errors and poor results simply because of communication problems.
- When you work with a vendor that can cover all your media, you make changes once. You have a single point of contact. All your results are standardized and integrated. You spend less time managing the searches and more time on your mission critical tasks.
The biggest complaint we see comes from prospects using other vendors, or even public outrage on Twitter, and has to do with an online news monitor auto-renewing their client because the client missed the 60 day cancellation clause. Of course a service that uses this tactic is not going to warn you that your renewal date is coming up. Even worse, they won’t allow you to quit even if you haven’t passed the actual renewal date.
- To be honest, I can’t understand why a vendor would play such hardball with the public relations industry. Every week we see posts on twitter complaiing that a web monitoring service auto-renewed them without notice and now won’t let them out of their contract. Many of these clients suffer great hardships because they have lost the budget, have exited PR, or don’t have the client they had last year.
- I don’t mean to pat myself on the back, but if we have a client that is truly unhappy and we can’t accommodate their needs, we release them with a smile. I’ve always found it much better to breakup on a friendly note with the idea you might get back together in the future. It’s no coincidence that we get back a large percentage of clients who leave us to try another vendor.
Web monitoring companies can honestly say they do a thorough job of monitoring online news, but their sales staff often blur the lines when asked if they can track TV, radio, and print. You might ask, “What is there to blur?” The main point to blur is the difference between what has been printed or aired, versus what has been posted online. That difference may be why your PR team is missing results.
The bottom line – Why gamble? The sales representatives of web monitoring vendors know that in order to grow their client base they have to take clients away from vendors who are monitoring all media. To do this they have to satisfy the question of, “Ok, but can you track all of the same sources as BurrellesLuce or Universal?” If the web monitor were honest and replied, “Well no, but we can do a great job with online content”, that would be true. The risk to them is they may not win the new business. In order to win they often say say, “Yes, we can do everything your current service does”, hoping you don’t dwell on that question further. YES, they can cover TV, radio and print (in the online version or as an added feed from other sources). NO, they can’t do it themselves LIKE BurrellesLuce or Universal.
When your communications or PR team can’t afford to miss important media exposure, engaging a complete media monitoring service can prevent a lot of frustration.