So you’ve decided to monitor media. Good decision.
You may be wondering if you can justify paying for it, or should try to rely on free tools.
The short answer is that it’s absolutely worth paying for. Here’s why…
The cost of free tools
‘Free’ doesn’t necessarily equal ‘rubbish’, but it does invariably mean ‘limited’.
Whether the free tools are limited in a way you can live with will vary – but if being on top of what’s going on in the media is important to your job – relying on free media monitoring is a bit like bringing a knife to a gunfight.
The main reasons for that are:
Free tools can give you a general overview of results – none of them claim to be comprehensive.
Anyone that’s tried free tools like Google Alerts will know the frustration of finding that their alerts just stop getting delivered for days on end, or are missing large numbers of results. Sites like fixgooglealerts.com have been setup in direct response to these well documented problems.
Recently, Google has killed off a number of its free services. It hasn’t retired Google Alerts yet, but many people have reported that it’s not as useful as it once was, and there’s speculation this is a sign that Google plans to abandon the service.
Free tools are do-it-yourself. They require someone on your team to go through the time-consuming process to regularly check for mentions, cobble together the results and analyse it all. They’ll need to:
- Search the news to find relevant organisation, competitor and industry mentions
- Store media mentions in a searchable format for future reference
- Compile media mentions in a single file for analysis
- Distribute media mentions to the relevant people
- Analyse the data
It’s likely this will end up costing more time and money than professional media monitoring (which automates or provides sophisticated toolsets to do these jobs), and ultimately the information won’t be as reliable (the old ‘garbage in, garbage out’ problem).
Setting up useful search criteria for free alerts can be a real challenge and there’s no support provided. This generally leaves people with unwanted results to sift through, or missing key information.
The right tools for the job
One key benefit of a professional media monitoring service is that you can be confident all your mentions will be more accurately picked up, measured and promptly delivered to your organisation. Incorrect matches and irrelevant sources will be weeded out – without you lifting a finger.
The real value of a media monitoring tool is not just in finding relevant media mentions. It also lies in being able to provide timely and actionable insights surrounding that mention. Using a platform tailored for media monitoring with complete workflow management and analysis built in, will help you get the most out of your overall investment in communications.
With advanced media monitoring tools you can:
- Filter topics and sources to view only those that matter to you
- Get detailed analysis, track themes and sentiment
- See trends at a glance with automatically generated graphs
- See your keywords and relevant snippets in each article so you immediately gain context
- Generate professional reports for any period
- Scheduled reports to be automatically sent out in real-time or whatever frequency you choose
- Search the entire database any time
The value of having an expert to talk to about your media monitoring also shouldn’t be understated. When you invest in paid media monitoring – the necessary support to optimise your setup and make the most of the tools on offer, is only ever an email or phone call away.
A professional media monitoring solution is tailor-made to do the heavy lifting for you – so you can focus on adding value.
The bottom line
Free monitoring tools rarely provide the media coverage sought by most organisations, and require a substantial investment in staff time to aggregate and analyse the data.
The outcome is low-quality results and high staff costs.
Public relations may be cheap compared to other types of marketing, but if you’ve invested in a communications professional – they need the tools to be effective.
Fortunately there’s now a fantastic media monitoring solution that’s available in New Zealand for a fraction of what monitoring used to cost.