Five key questions to ask your media monitoring provider

There have always been plenty of options out there for people wanting to track their company’s media coverage and issues of interest, from attempting to watch and read everything yourself to simple search engine results to services that only focus on one medium to full service monitoring that covers all media types and provides personalised client service. Here’s a quick summary of the questions you should be asking to make sure that any monitoring service will really meet your needs.

What types of media do you cover, and to what extent?

This is the most critical question of all. First you need to look at your business and determine what types of coverage and issues you want to track. Do those issues appear in radio and on television? Are they discussed on social media? Are they likely to appear in the paper or online news sites? Do you need to track suburban newspapers and regional TV as well? Once you have determined the scope of your coverage, you can then ask anyone seeking to provide monitoring services exactly what they cover as part of their service, both geographically and media types.

Will you help me set up my monitoring brief and create the right searches?

Now that you have the right scope worked out for your media tracking, the next important step is to ensure the right searches are set up to ensure you are receiving all the coverage you want to see, without any coverage that you’re not interested in. There’s no point having a media monitoring service if it misses half of your coverage, but there’s also no point if you can’t get to your coverage through all the white noise you are being sent because your searches are picking up a lot of irrelevant coverage. Also remember that your monitoring needs may change over time as different issues arise, so you will probably need to change your searches from time to time as well. Always ask your potential provider to detail exactly what support they will provide in setting up and modifying your searches, not just at the beginning of the contract, but all the way through.

How fast will I get my relevant coverage?

Speed of delivery varies widely among media monitoring providers, some may send you a daily email or even only a weekly email, while others may offer a “real time” stream, but with no filters or verification of relevance, meaning lots of rubbish to wade through. Once again the combination of accuracy and speed is crucial to how effective your media monitoring service will be for you, and the time to get full details of how the nitty gritty works to ensure you are getting your key coverage fast is before you enter any long term contract, not after.

What if I’m not sure about what I should be tracking?

Does your monitoring provider have a client service team that understands your industry, that can work as a partner in identifying the issues and competitors that you should be tracking to get an accurate picture of the media landscape that matters to your business? This kind of expertise and support can be crucial in adding value and ensuring you are getting everything you need from your monitoring service.

Do you need to report on your coverage?

Most communications professionals these days have to regularly report internally on the level and nature of media coverage their company is receiving. Does your monitoring provider make that easy by covering all your relevant media types on the one platform, and then providing a reporting function that quickly and easily prepares regular media coverage reports for you, entirely customised to your needs? Reporting on media coverage can be extremely time consuming, and a quick, easy to use and effective reporting function makes a huge difference to the effectiveness of any monitoring service.

As with any B2B service provider, the one key to getting the best out of media monitoring companies is – look before you leap – dig behind the topline claims and make sure that the actual service provided meets your needs, or you could be locking yourself into something that doesn’t provide the information you need and may even put your company’s reputation at risk if critical coverage is missed.

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