Lunchtime Politics on Twitter

Media Auditing – An Introduction

Before launching a marketing, public relations, or public affairs campaign, conducting an analysis of news media and social can provide valuable insights that help make the campaign more effective. We call this review a media audit.

Let’s talk about a hypothetical situation: The Association of Carnival Performers needs to confront growing reputational issues. Since the movies IT 2 and Joker have been released, the association believes clowns have developed a terrible reputation. The Association wants to put clowns back in the positive light, but they don’t know how to engage the news and on social media. Their preliminary Google News and Twitter searches turned up several recent stories. It’s hard for them to quantify just how many news stories are substantively talking about clowns, if the conversation is negative or positive, and the overall impact of this coverage. Rather than just searching piecemeal across each platform, they want something more comprehensive, holistic, and prescriptive. They need a media audit.

What is a Media Audit?

A media audit is an analysis of historic news stories and social media posts from up to two years in the past. The audit analysis can focus on a company, set of competitors, industry, or topic. It can be used to identify trends and inform an organization on how to communicate with the public more effectively. For example, by examining news stories and social media posts that mention clowns over the past year, the Association of Carnival Performers can understand the topics, terms, messages, and patterns in conversation that social media users negatively associate with clowns. Based on the data, the Association can develop messaging points and strategies to counter consumers’ negative perceptions.

Why Conduct a Media Audit?

Our unique approach to media auditing provides a solid research basis for understanding the discussions in news stories and social media posts. It can build the foundation for a successful communications strategy, marketing, or public affairs campaign. Looking at a large volume of news and social media over an extended period ensures clients can develop an accurate communications plan regardless of message seasonality (like around Halloween or the Thanksgiving) and individual events, such as a movie premiere. It can also help organizations identify risks, potential new partnerships, and opportunities to enter new discussions. A media audit can be used to:

Identify White Space Opportunities:

A “white-space” opportunity is a conversation topic, theme, message, or media channel that other organizations or competitors are absent from – either due to lack of media coverage or lack of mentions within the existing coverage. By understanding what news stories and social media posts are currently discussing in an industry or issue, an audit can determine where and how an organization can enter a new conversation with content that resonates and differentiates it from competitors. This analysis is best used when an organization is entering a new industry, subject matter, or wants to be seen as an expert within a new or developing space.

Understand Best Practices through Competitive Analysis

A media audit can be used to compare and understand how the industry and competitors are successful and effective in getting news media and social media attention. When Certus Insights conducts an audit of an organization’s competitors, they are compared across several different attributes including the total number of news stories; total number of social media posts; the total number of engagements (likes, shares, comments, etc.); the distribution of positive, negative, and neutral sentiment across social media and news stories; the most prominent authors and sources; a timeline of volume to identify key events; the most prominent stories based on engagements; and how news stories and social media posts are distributed across forums, blogs, broadcast tv, web-based news, print news, Twitter etc. All of this information can be used to determine what is working and not working for other organizations and the industry – what is worth emulating and what should be avoided. This type of audit is best for organizations looking to develop a better understanding of their competition and looking for how they can get a competitive edge in terms of messaging to differentiate themselves from competitors.

Track Event and Message Success:

An audit can follow the news and social media conversation around a conference or event to understand which stories and messages are resonating based on mention volume and engagements. Tracking an event allows an organization to understand which publications, competitors, speakers, stories, or messages are resonating and receiving the most engagement. It can help determine the effectiveness of client messages, actions, and spokespeople in event coverage. The information can be used to amplify coverage of the event, fine-tune the event while it occurs, or assist in future event planning.

Identify Influential Publications and Individuals:

Identify the prominent voices that are discussing and regularly publishing news stories or blogs on topics and products connected to an organization, topic, or competitive set. Influence can be determined through a diverse set of metrics, including news circulation, website unique visits, social media engagements, republishing, or even quote count. The publication and influencer audit can also look at the top issues discussed, how they are covered, and which publications are most influential. It is best used to inform outreach strategies, influencer campaigns, and media pitches.

Identify Risks:

A media audit can identify news media and social conversation that can pose a reputational risk to an organization. An audit can be particularly useful when it identifies growing negative conversation that may require a client to intercede before it develops into a larger problem.

How do you Conduct a Media Audit?

We follow a structured process to ensure that the output of any audit addresses client needs. This begins with gathering information on the target organization, issue, or competitive set through client conversations and preliminary research. That information is then used to build a preliminary understanding of how social media users and the news media are currently discussing an issue or topic and identify terms commonly associated with the topic. This allows the audit to accurately and efficiently target key messages and filter out irrelevant conversation. We then gather all the relevant data and analyze it for major trends. Our approach aims to accurately reflect what is seen in the data through an objective and analytical approach, even if it disproves and counters initial assumptions.

So What About the Clowns?

So, if we conduct a media audit around clowns, we may find that there were two large spikes in the conversation just before and after the premiers of It 2 and Joker.  However, there appears to be a small but ongoing conversation around clowns in-relation to nursery decoration. This illustrates an alternative, positive association. There is an opportunity for the Association to partner with influential bloggers on the topic, baby design studios, and prominent social media authors to continue to develop and promote clowns in association with babies and nursery decorations. This can form the beginning of a campaign to counter the negative connotations associated with the clowns as a result of the movie.

Natalie Copeland
natalie.copeland.42@gmail.com