Media monitoring is a staple part of PR life. You monitor target media to find out what things are being said about your organisation or client (good, neutral, bad) and you track whether your key messages are getting picked up (or not).
Clearly there can be a lot more to it than this – but generally speaking, this is what most PRs are doing when carrying out media monitoring.
Traditionally, this has been a time consuming and expensive business. You wait for a pile of press clippings to come in, someone has to read, analyse and collate the information – and then distribute in a format that makes sense to people. Often, by the time the analysis is complete, the information is out of date and useless for the purpose of taking action.
As we all know, things are different now – certainly online. And by combining a few free Google tools, any company can create a quite powerful media monitoring system. Here’s how.
First – set up some Google Alerts. These automatically track coverage related to key words or phrases you specify. So you may want to track your own company name, competitors, plus key messages of your own and rivals. Most people using this probably have these alerts e-mailed to them. Even if you set up specfic filters, this can lead to a lot of email to read – and in a format that is hard to analyse or search. Which is why it is very handy that you can choose to receive these alerts as an RSS feed.
Second – use Google Reader to receive these alerts. Getting the alerts via this method has a number of benefits. You don’t get your inbox clogged up with lots of emails (which will happen if you have popular key words or request frequent updates). You can organise the alerts into folders to allow easier reading and analysis. But perhaps the best part is the ease with which you search on saved alerts. So for example if you wanted to see which key messages have been picked up in a particular category, just search. Voila. And you can use other Google Reader facilities to email key coverage to relevant people, share, or “star” for special attention. You may even want to export specific coverage into a database such as Blist where can rank coverage and analyse – as well as share with relevant people.
I know. There is more to media monitoring and measurement than this. And it only covers online (imagine if Factiva provided RSS alerts on keyword searches – then you could cover both on and offline).
But for many organisations (especially SMEs), here is a way to have something in place that won’t cost a penny – other than the time to set it up. And something is better than nothing.