“I wish we knew what people were saying about us out there!” Have you ever found yourself saying this? We’ve definitely heard it before!
If you’re an organizational leader, a marketer, or a communicator, you want to know what people are saying about your organization. Good, bad, all of it. Yep, the bad too. You don’t have to be a glutton for punishment — knowing what’s out there that’s not positive is valuable info too. And of course we love the good stuff because it shows us what we’re doing right!
But how do we find out what people are saying? By tracking media mentions. What we’ll cover today is what media mentions are, why they matter, and how you can track them.
What are media mentions? Why do they matter?
Before diving in, let’s talk about what media mentions are. Media mentions are any time a keyword you care about comes up in earned media coverage. Your organization’s name, products or services you offer, names of thought leaders and other key people, industry topics, even your competitors’ names.
Watch out for these keywords in media outlets, websites, social media, TV, radio, you name it. (In practice, we generally don’t include owned media like press releases as media mentions, but something like responses to a press release can be included.)
We use media mentions for a lot of purposes, like to:
- Assess our strategies. Are our messages getting through? Do we have the reach and visibility we want?
- Track sentiment. We get a sense of what people feel (positive and negative) about our organization and industry.
- Manage reputation. We can respond on time to changes, audience questions, and issues that might crop up.
- Catch opportunities when they’re hot. Mentions can open doors for us to new opportunities that we don’t want to miss — could be placement opportunities or trending topics.
- Measure thought leadership. Are our executives being called upon to share their insights on topics related to our industry or mission?
- Gauge success of earned media campaigns. We can see if we’re getting in the right outlets and reaching our coverage goals. A hit in the Wall Street Journal, for example, could give a boost in sales or inquiries by itself. If we’re talking about promoting an event, however, our goal may be quantity — blogs, event listings, and features.
When we keep on top of media mentions, we get a fuller picture of what’s going on. But you’ve got to know how to do it so you don’t miss a thing.
How to Track Media Mentions
Now that we know what media mentions are and why they’re important, we can explore how you can track them.
The online tools we have at our fingertips nowadays make it easier than ever to cover a wide range of sources. Which way you go about it, though, depends on your goals and how much media attention you get. So, for example, organizations that want to stay on top of customer inquiries (like major online retailers) need to monitor Twitter in real time. But a smaller organization may not have the need to do that. It’s possible to get by with simpler tools or go all-in on a powerful platform — you just need to think about what you’re looking for.
A great starting point is good old Google Alerts. We use Google Alerts all the time. With Google Alerts, you add the keywords you want to watch for and you get email notifications when they come up in online media, like news articles, websites, YouTube videos, online forums. Outside of Google Alerts, you can also do advanced searches on Google and on social media like Facebook and Twitter to gather media mentions manually.
Depending on how much media attention you get though, this might have you saying “Whoa!” If your organization gets loads of mentions and needs complex analysis into sentiment and trends, it can quickly pile up. Even for the most organized among us! Luckily, that’s where media monitoring tools come in.
Media monitoring tools (you may have heard of some, like Muck Rack, Cision, and Meltwater) are online platforms that let you set up monitoring to track and report your media mentions. If your organization has the need (the cost for media monitoring platforms adds up!), then these can be worth it. These online platforms collect mentions for you — from online media, social media, even radio and TV. Plus, monitoring platforms also give you analytical tools that help you prepare reports, evaluate sentiment, and capture trends. If your organization needs a lot of media monitoring, then these extra features can take some of the work off your plate… so you can get into the nitty-gritty of what you’re going to do with the info you’re getting.
Over to You
To finish up, we want to share a bit of advice from the way we work. Whatever way you end up tracking media mentions, make sure you’re thinking about how mentions play into your overall strategy. What are you going to do with this information? Are you going to improve your messaging, beef up your media outreach, respond more proactively to your audience, get on board with trends as they’re happening? You’ve got to have your goals in mind.
Media mentions are a valuable source of information. You hear what people are saying about your organization, figure out if your messaging is getting through, and capture opportunities when they’re hot. Knowing how to track media mentions is essential.