9 Questions To Ask When Choosing a Media Monitoring Service

Media analysts and communications professionals are always under unrelenting pressure to produce results. Many now realize that it is essential to use a media monitoring tool to handle and interact with the overwhelming amounts of data they deal with on a daily basis. Using a digital media monitoring tool is even more pressing if a company is in the midst of a backlash from the public and the media.

With the various media monitoring tools and services out there, how do you sift between all the promotional claims and choose the best fit for you?

Here are 3 key questions you need to ask yourself before contacting a media monitoring service:

1) What do I need to monitor?

News? Magazines? Blogs? Social Media? Broadcast? or Videos?

There are a variety of online media platforms out there. With a few exceptions, almost every company is superior in one medium but lacking in another. As unfortunate as it this may be, with all of these platforms to choose from, you would most likely need to choose multiple services.

If your organization wants to track what is being said by consumers about your company or brand on the Internet, it’s best to monitor both social and news media mediums as they usually inform each other in terms of content, some companies are superior in social media monitoring while other have a greater advantage monitoring news media. On the other hand, if you are looking to create relationships with journalists and bloggers to monitor and strengthen your public influence, then you will best be served with a service that provides news media and blog monitoring.


2) What features and services do I need?

Some tools and services out there can customize their services to meet your specific requirements. For example, Gnowit offers monitoring from traditional as well as custom lists of specific publications such as the hansard reports. If not all news sources and blogs are relevant to you, this is an effective way to filter out the irrelevant sources in order to keep your reports spam free and focused towards the issues that matter.

Many organizations have a communications department where having a tool that is designed for small teams may be critical. The speed and simplicity of creating, exporting and sharing pdf or XML or XLS reports will be important.

Another question you should be asking yourself is whether you need your monitoring in real-time or are delayed notifications acceptable.

3) Is a free tool good enough?

Lots of smaller organizations are settling for free services like Google Alerts or Yahoo News. But how “free” is the service exactly? The time and effort required to do daily searches is painful and the reliability of the service for serious communicators is definitely quite risky. The costs associated with making a wrong decision based on missed information can be more costly to your brand than the price of a monitoring service in the first place.

If you are a serious communicator whose business success is dependant on your brand, then you should not settle for free tools.

Now that you have the general idea of what type of service you need, you should now ask questions to evaluate the offering itself:


4) What is the service accuracy on missed clips/articles?

Fact: Traditional press clipping services with human readers miss 30 to 40% relevant clips.

Because of the fear of missing such a big amount of clips/articles, many companies tend to subscribe to multiple news clipping services to assure they are not missing anything. This strategy eventually more than doubles the cost of a monitoring service. Whether you use multiple services or one comprehensive service, you will eventually face the problem of information overload. The sheer volume of information that will be pushed out to you will have you spend multiple hours a week just sifting through a sea of irrelevant results just to find the handful that are meaningful. You end up spending just as much time as filtering through a google search.

Imagine if you worked at a software company called Apple and your CEO’s name was Cook. How many results do you think you will get about baking apple pies? The important point to take away is: most services miss articles and curate irrelevant articles as well. They are afraid of missing relevant articles from sources they don’t think are being tracked, all the while still having to sift through every article to filter out all the spam.

To avoid these problems, make sure the service will help you develop the most accurate and relevant search terms along with the flexibility to add or remove sources of interest. A balance of Boolean capability, proximity and source restriction and selection are of primary concern in this regard.


5) How soon are the results delivered?

This is one of the key areas in which you can truly benefit from an automated solution. If you hire an external team to do media monitoring for you, you would most likely be getting daily or weekly reports showcasing to you yesterday’s results. To some, that may be good enough, but to others, getting news clips with analysis as they are happening is critical. Especially during times of crisis. Imagine learning about an unhappy employee’s complaint to the media one day after it has been circulating the internet while you are at home.

The fact of the matter is that communicators have a 24/7 job. They always need to be on top of the news and they need a reliable tool that works just as hard as they do, if not harder. The perfect tool is one can make their lives easier by finding and analysing media findings for them.


6) What kind of customizations are available?

You should never settle for off the shelf services. The truth of the matter is that everybody needs some level of personalization, whether it is with the sources they choose, the dashboards they see, or the reports they create. Always explain what matters to you and have the service providers describe how they can meet your requirements.


7) How can I share this finding?

Companies are now getting increasingly creative showcasing report cards and visual insights on the topic of interest. From regular clippings, to gimmick heavy graphs, there are many ways to showcase the data that you are collecting, some methods are more effective than others.

But one aspect that is surprisingly overlooked is the ability to generate a report out of the findings and effectively share the information with colleagues, managers, and clients. Most automated tools do not have a robust report generator. As a busy communicator, you should have the ability to quickly and effectively generate reports either via PDF, CSV or HTML format to send out. Easy report creation and dissemination will automatically reduce the time and effort it takes for you to collect, create, share, and store these reports.


8) What is the price? What are the terms?

There are many different pricing structures – from pay-per-clip to annual contracts – some may be part fixed and part variable. The latter is common with social media monitoring tools. Have the service provider explain exactly how it works and what you are paying for is critical to a sound business decision. Is there an extra charge for real-time delivery? Are there additional charges for the amount of coverage? Before deciding on long term contracts, make sure you try out different tools as most of them tend to provide you with a trial period for you to evaluate the product. Make sure you get a written price quote with a description of what you will be receiving.


9) Ask yourself, how will this make my life easier?

This question may be the hardest to answer as it is really dependent on your needs and what the monitoring service truly offers. In the end, you are going to need a tool that will save you time, money, and will increase you and your team’s productivity by finding relevant articles you never knew about from sources you never knew existed. And not only is finding it important, but finding it before anyone else will give you the competitive advantage. The simplicity of the service is also crucial while customer support can also make a huge difference.

Many of these important questions can be answered if the service will let you try the product before purchasing. Gnowit offers a free media monitoring trial and offers you a month-to-month plan. No long term contracts required.

Choosing the right media monitoring service is an important decision. You don’t want to settle for pre-packaged solutions or overpriced services in today’s fast paced, competitive environment. We at Gnowit are working hard to give you exactly what you need at a timely manner with minimal efforts from your part.