4 reasons why all PR pros need a monitoring tool

By Clément René, content marketer @Mention.

PR is a complex practice. So complicated, 59% of C-Level executives don’t fully understand the role and capabilities of PR professionals in their organization. Worrying, maybe, yet not surprising.

So for everyone’s sake, let’s take a minute to remind ourselves what PR achieves, shall we?

In short, PR professionals help businesses manage their reputation and oversee communication through all channels. Their job is to ensure that a company’s messages are consistent and bulletproof, everywhere. They also build relationships with partners, vendors, journalists, producers, influencers and so on. Finally, they manage crises when they strike at any time.

As Mention’s PR manager, Meghan DuCille, describes it:

PR is complex because it’s an intuitive practice. You need to think quickly on your feet and manage many public-facing moving parts at once. But with the more channels of communication we add, our PR instinct can only take us so far and so in-depth.

Indeed, no one said it was an easy job.

PR professionals have a lot on their plate

Because the profession has changed drastically in the last few decades, most professionals are overwhelmed with things to do. With information flowing non-stop, in real-time and across the web, PR professionals simply can’t keep up with everything. And how can we blame them?

Therefore, I’m pretty sure the job description of the average PR person today looks like an endless to-do list.

Again, communicators are responsible for so much more these days, from contacting journalists to using social media and tracking their PR campaigns that it’s tough. A lot of these tasks are time-consuming and PR pros have little time to focus on what matters the most to them: Building relationships with people.

Because they swamped with too much to do, communicators need tools to automate redundant tasks, so they can focus on building valuable relationships. And what’s the most important tool they can have in their PR toolkit? An online monitoring tool.

Certainly, PR pros can benefit in so many ways from using a monitoring solution. In this blog post, I’ll share with you the four reasons why they should use one.

1. Receive automated press mentions in real time

Data is knowledge. And knowledge is power. Before online monitoring, you dedicated a lot of time and energy to know if people were mentioning your brand in the media. Moreover, PR pros often had to rely on costly external services to do it for them.

Expensive? Yes. Time-consuming? Definitely. Productive? Not really. However, it was necessary.

If you have been around long enough, this tweet from @wadds might bring back unpleasant memories.

Today, PR professionals can leverage online monitoring services to listen to everything that people say about their:

    • Brand
    • Services or products
    • Competitors
    • Partners
    • Or anything else they want to keep an eye on

Most noteworthy is that they are now notified in real-time, and can spend their energy on critical tasks, such as getting in touch with people.

Another must-have skill for PR is being able to anticipate negative publicity. And because monitoring allows PR Pros to stay informed in real-time, such tools can be handy when a crisis hits your brand.

2. Defuse potential PR crises coming your way

Consumers, influencers or journalists can talk about your brand anywhere, at any time (social media, online media, and broadcast media.) Which is excellent, when the conversations echo positively.

But as we are all familiar with Murphy’s law, if something wrong can happen, it will most certainly take place, eventually. This means PR crises can strike anywhere, anytime.

Once again, online monitoring helps you to stay afloat when drowning in negative mentions. By letting you know who’s talking in real-time, you can take appropriate action to save the day and your brand.

For example, some tools notify you when there’s abnormal activity around your brand: a sudden increase of mentions and a wave of negative sentiment. As there is no fire without smoke, many crises start this way with one negative tweet that explodes into many.

ILSC Education Group’s PR team knows this too well. Today, they use online monitoring to manage negative mentions as they go along as well as mitigate potential damages.

Steps to take with monitoring

When a crisis occurs, take a deep breath and start listening with a monitoring tool.

  1. Listen to understand what happened. The worst thing you can do is jump in a conversation without having all the facts. Take the time to assess the situation and understand what exactly occurred. Who started the negative mentions? And why?
  2. Inform your team. Make sure to let your colleagues know about the situation. They should not communicate anything on behalf of your company that you and your crisis management team haven’t approved.
  3. Reach out to the source of the problem. Via social media, email, telephone or even face-to-face if possible, get in touch with the “patient zero” to understand and start defusing the situation.
  4. Get to work, quick. When in a crisis, you have to work well and fast. Sometimes, a quick fix can get you out of trouble. In other times (which is often, unfortunately), you won’t be able to come up with a definitive solution. However, knowing what the problem is will help you realize a temporary fix, showing that you do take the issue seriously.
  5. Spread the word. Once you know what happened and have a solution, reach out to journalists and connect with influencers to spread your response across social media channels. Send an email to your clients if you have to. Show them that you are on top of the situation.

3. Make media and influencer outreach easy

Nobody in their right mind likes building media lists. You end up working from excel sheets and probably have to adjust your segmentation on each particular and demanding case. The exercise is time-consuming and, quite frankly, incredibly tedious.

Ugh! Well, I have good news. You can forget about spreadsheets.

Tools like Mention or Mynewsdesk will help you make the best of the very little time you have to reach out only to those who care about what you have to say.

Beyond filtering through the noise to identifying the needle in a haystack, comprehensive monitoring solutions help you interact and follow-up with influencers and journalists.

Start efficient conversations

Having said that PR professionals are used to sending messages to which they receive no answers. And it makes sense, as journalists and influencers already receive hundreds of solicitations every day.

Thus, there are two ways comprehensive tools can help you get around this:

  1. Before reaching out: Online monitoring can help PR pros to learn more about influencers and journalists. What do they like? What kind of content are they producing? What are their interests and expertise? These pieces of information will save you an incredible amount of time, as you can focus your energy on targeting those who are more likely to pick up your story.
  2. After reaching out: Once your message is out, you can follow up with journalists and influencers depending on their attitude regarding your piece of content.

First, they read and share your story. Get in touch with them to at least thank them, as it could be the start of a long-term beneficial relationship.

Second, they read your story and don’t share it. It’s not the best scenario, but see it as an opportunity. As a result, the journalist might have been lacking information to write a good piece on your story. So, try and reach out to them.

Third, they did not open your email. Surely, email is not everyone’s favorite way to communicate. In some cases, you’ll find it easier to get in touch with journalists using social media.

4. Measure and report your PR efforts

Finally, online monitoring is the ideal technology for marketers and PR professionals to measure their progress and report on their campaign results.

Some 80% of marketers already have an established data-driven system to understand and improve their performance.

In contrast, PR professionals, unfortunately, are a few steps behind, and a majority of them still struggle to measure their results.

A recent survey unveils that 56% of PR professionals struggle to track the right metrics.

You guessed right. Online monitoring can also help with that.

Online monitoring gives PR Pros the opportunity to zoom in on specific metrics such as:

  • The volume of mentions
  • Sources
  • Languages
  • Top locations
  • Overall sentiment
  • Overall Reach
  • Influence of publications and people mentioning you
  • Topics associated with your brand
  • Gender division
  • And much more.

Of course, comprehensive tools also create real-time dashboards and reports so that PR pros can take a step back and look at the bigger picture. This is key to achieve two things:

  1. Plan your next move. Evaluating your work will help you to iterate on your existing PR strategy. How can you improve your next campaign?
  2. Report to management. Most online monitoring tools let you export clear and insightful reports, which you can share with colleagues and management. As well as allow you to share your achievements.

You now know how monitoring can help you on a daily basis.

If you want to know more on how to monitor your brand, I strongly recommend you read this ebook from Mention.

Listen. Control. Evaluate. Iterate.

Online monitoring fuels the future of PR. In a sense, they help PR pros spend more time doing PR, and less time trying to figure out what is happening.

In summary, PR pros get to focus on what makes a difference in their job: creating stories, building strong relationships and reinforcing their work with actionable data.

And let’s not forget that PR is a people-focused activity.

And what about you? Are you already leveraging online monitoring to support your PR activities? Let me know at clement@mention.com.

 

 

The post was written by:
Clément René
Content marketer, Mention.*This is part of an ongoing series on the benefits of social listening, brought to you by our friends @Mention, the leading social media listening tool. 

 

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