When Automating Clips Doesn’t Cut It

There are automated ways to gather information about your organization’s mentions in the popular media. If you use Cision or Meltwater to find and track press contacts, both offer an easy way to determine who is mentioning your name. Google News can work too.

But knowing more is knowing more. Through media analysis, we can learn:

  • The amount of coverage.
  • News hooks that work.
  • Geographic distribution.
  • Whether your spokespeople are getting quoted.
  • If they stay “on message.”
  • How the media is framing your issues.
  • Which opponents are being quoted, and what messages they are using.
  • Doing this in a rigorous way can arm you with critical data that can be used to improve performance.

I have overseen extensive analyses of coverage of dozens of issues and have learned some powerful lessons. Perhaps the most important one is that getting quoted isn’t everything. Frequently, I have seen quotes that are way off the carefully researched and discussed message that the organization wants to put out. On one occasion, I remember a team that was proudly touting their number of quotes was found, through a deeper analysis, to be mostly off message and actually repeating a lot of the damaging and negative framing used by opponents.

To make it objective, all the coverage is gathered in a systematic way over an agreed-upon time period. Subject areas and labels are targeted along with possible alternatives. A random sample of stories is selected for in depth reading. Then, data is collected and reliable statistics produced. Finally, strategic communications recommendations are made to enhance effectiveness to insure success.