December 7, 2016

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Top media monitoring time traps

Top media monitoring time traps

Media monitoring is a requirement for many PR pros, and the use of monitoring tools makes the formerly arduous process of finding clips, reviewing, and then categorizing them a much simpler process. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t time traps lurking. When you are aware of these time sinks, you can more easily manage them.

Here are some of the top media monitoring time traps—and how to avoid getting caught in them:

  1. Spending too much time wading through content. This is a very easy one to fall into on a daily basis, and can turn your monitoring into a considerable effort instead of an item that can be checked-off on a to-do list within a reasonable frame of time. The biggest culprits here generally are either overly broad keywords that bring in too much content; a lack of filtering content into easily digestible batches; or, possibly, a “fear of missing something” that leads to closer review than may be warranted. To combat this time trap, make sure your keywords are well designed, and make sure you have good filters set up. Well-considered filters can actually combat the “fear of missing something” too—I’ve found that it is much easier to miss something important when wading through 500 clips, rather than looking at five sets of 100 clips in five different category areas.
  1. Following crumb trails of links. This is the bane of anyone whose work mandates using the Internet. You read a relevant story, and see a link or reference to another publication on the topic that you are monitoring for, you follow the link (just in case it’s relevant), and three hours later it’s lunchtime and you still have another 50 clips to review. This is a tough one to address because sometimes those related stories ARE relevant and useful, and might have used slightly different keywords—which means they may or may not have been captured in your monitoring tool. The way I handle this particular issue depends on time. If I’m short on time, I do a very quick review of just one link away from the source and see if it’s relevant—if it is, I add it and move on, but leave a window with the clip open so I remember to go back when I have time to see if there’s more there I should think about, like adding new keywords. If I have the time, I do that review/consideration on the spot.
  1. Focusing too much on “in the weeds” items. This tends to happen in accounts that cover detailed or very specific industries. Usually when you are doing a monitoring review, you’re reviewing so that you are generally informed. When an account has a lot of interesting detail or complex information, it can be very easy to slip from “review” to “learning,” which means close reading when you most likely should be skimming.
  1. Getting lost in too many “big picture” items. The opposite of “in the weeds” accounts, this tends to happen in accounts that are more general. The problem with “big picture” accounts is that a lot of things can fit into a “big picture”—so make sure that you’re only reviewing what you need to.
  1. Losing sight of monitoring objectives. This time trap can be very easy to slip into if you aren’t careful. Because a single news story can touch on several related industries or themes, articles may seem relevant even if they don’t exactly match the monitoring objectives. Again, filters can help with this time trap by keeping articles in relevant topic areas.
  1. Second-guessing ratings, tags, etc. This can absolutely pull you down a rabbit hole—try hard not to do this. There can be a bit of bias that creeps into review if you’re rating content on tone, because it can be very subjective. After a while you may start second-guessing the tone rating you applied to earlier articles—but, if you change the standard you have to go back and re-rate items you’ve already reviewed. While this might, on occasion, be necessary; generally trust your initial instincts.

By being aware of the time traps that can exist in media monitoring, you should be able to map out a strategy to avoid losing valuable time in your day by reviewing smartly—and quickly.

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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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