September 28, 2016

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Improving advocacy efforts with media monitoring

Improving advocacy efforts with media monitoring

If you’re in the public affairs PR space, advocacy efforts are probably a very large part of what you do on a daily basis. The identification of and communication with advocates can be significantly enhanced by using a daily media monitoring program, and you can use monitoring to determine the best approach to take when pitching local and regional media on stories and op-eds.

Grassroots advocacy programs are, at their core, about finding people who support your client’s stance on an issue and then providing them with the tools and information to help you make your case to whoever the target audience is. Typically, you’ll know where to find the most natural and fervent advocates because they are already active on the issues. Broadening the base is almost always necessary for a cause, and you can use media monitoring to focus your efforts.

Use media monitoring to see which papers are already writing about your issue—good or bad. Even if an issue is a national one, it’s likely that potentially affected industry sectors will be in certain cities and regions. Take for example a tech issue being considered in Congress. You will be able to locate advocates across the country, but those most affected will be concentrated in areas like Silicon Valley, Austin, Seattle, and so on. Review the coverage from these areas and see which journalists are writing about the issue, and which papers are likely to focus on the issue in depth.  See if there are any impromptu leaders on the issue who have already emerged locally. Connecting and working with locals who have already been willing to voice their opinion on an issue will be very helpful to your efforts.

Reviewing existing coverage will also help you to identify the key messages of your opponents on an issue. While much of the messaging will be the same from one area of the country to another, there usually are local messages that will resonate more with voters, so use monitoring to find out what those are.

Once your advocacy program is up and running, use media monitoring to track your progress and to make adjustments to messaging if necessary. Don’t just track the volume of coverage. The fact that there are thousands of clips mentioning your issue doesn’t mean that you are achieving your goals. Make sure you’re looking at how key messages are being received.

For instance, if your jobs argument is garnering positive coverage in one region, but is falling flat in another, you need to know why. Is it because the unemployment rate is higher in the first area so the message resonates more, or is it because there’s something else going on in the second region? If there is another local issue making the exact same jobs argument in the second area, you might have to review your messaging to see if there’s a more distinct way to make your case so that your message gets through to voters. In other words, all politics is local, so use monitoring to make sure your messages are hitting the right tone with the local population.

Media monitoring is one of the best ways to find the right audiences and make sure your advocacy program is doing what you’ve designed for it to do. The right research and analysis can improve your results dramatically.

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for just over 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR work, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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