Pretty much any machine or automated process will eventually need a tune-up, and your media monitoring really is no different. It’s easy to fall into the “set it and forget it” trap, especially when your monitoring service has been doing a good job and making your life easier. Since monitoring is usually just a small subset of a day filled with other tasks and distractions, the primary attractiveness of a service is that you shouldn’t have to give it much thought.
That said, there are a number of signs that you should be on the lookout for that will indicate it’s time to take a dive into your setup and make sure it’s functioning as designed and desired.
Dramatic changes in volume. If you have a fairly low-volume account, this one can sometimes be hard to detect, but it is a very clear warning sign. Every account I’ve ever worked on has displayed a certain rhythm. For accounts that are business-focused, or have a B-to-B objective, volume during the weekdays is fairly steady, with peaks earlier in the week and a tailing off on Fridays. For consumer-focused accounts, volume is lower from the beginning of the week through about Wednesday, and then picks up Thursday through Saturday. In other words, you get accustomed to a certain cadence of the content. Of course, there are things that can disrupt that, like a holiday period or a major news event that pulls attention away from usual channels. However, if you see a drop in volume with no discernible reason, it’s time to dig deeper and see what the cause may be.
The language changes. This is one of the most common reasons monitoring stops producing desired results. If you’ve detected a drop in volume or have missed an important clip, this is the first thing you should check out. Industry terms change all of the time, so if your account is monitoring an industry, take a look at your keywords. It wasn’t that long ago that people used “global warming” as a standard term, now it’s more common to see the phrase “climate change.” Sometimes all you’ll need to do is update and tweak your keywords and you’ll be back on track.
Journalists change, publications change. This is a bit harder to detect, but if you have a lower-volume account you’ll probably see this change fairly quickly. If you typically see content from specific journalists or publications, and that all of a sudden stops, you’ll need to do a bit of quick detective work. Sometimes a journalist moves on to another publication—and may or may not retain the same area of journalistic focus. Sometimes a publication determines that it’s going to save money by rolling a bunch of beats into one new section—or by eliminating the beat altogether. It’s worth it to take the time to figure out what is going on, especially if it’s a high profile source. Sometimes, it’s just a name change—like the New York Times switching from Green Inc., to Green—but if there’s a URL change that accompanies the name switch, that could be important.
I’m a fan of the regularly scheduled tune-up. If you’re monitoring a rapidly changing or growing industry, this might mean quarterly or even monthly tune-ups. For more established industries, it could mean checking once a year—unless, of course, you note a drop in volume as outlined above. The bottom line is that it’s better to be ahead of adjustments because you’re less likely to miss something important. But, if you notice something is amiss, don’t delay in giving your media monitoring a tune-up.