Who reads the news anyway? Actually, you should

Ruth Callaghan

Ruth Callaghan 30 Sep 2021
4 mins

There’s nothing like a social media slam to give business leaders a wake-up.  

It might be a cranky customer who has hopped on Facebook in the wee hours, adding angry-face emojis to their diatribe.  

It might be criticism of your staff on Twitter by an upset ‘egg’ with three followers and a disdain for punctuation.  

Something about the immediacy and human face of social media means that comment, and the scattered retweets or likes that follow, can cut to the heart of a business.  

But while social media monitoring is vital, if you are not also watching traditional media sources, you are seeing only a small part of the picture.  

Traditional media like newspapers, magazines, online credible news sites, television and radio still play a big role in the corporate conversation. 

If you aren’t listening, you won’t know what is being said about you or about your industry and how your competitors are faring.  

You may be under the impression that journalists are a dying breed and that traditional media is becoming extinct.  

Well it’s not quite that bad.  

Yes, the media landscape is changing, and yes, people are turning to social media to get quick and easy updates. Yet, many Australians still rely on traditional news sources for reliable and accurate accounts of the news.  

According to Roy Morgan Research, readership of cross-platform newspapers (which includes newspaper content via print, web or app) is strong, with over 4.2 million people reading the Sydney Morning Herald in a given week, 3.1 million reading the Daily Telegraph and 3 million reading the Herald Sun.   

In WA, 82 per cent of the population reads The West’s print or digital mastheads every month. About 17 per cent of the population reads a printed copy of The West every day.

And unfortunately for the time-poor among us, Google still struggles to track and uncover print stories with as much success as a media-monitoring firm.  

That’s partly because some stories are never published online and partly because you often need a human involved to avoid false positive results, where search terms turn up stories of little or no relevance.  

So given the importance of media intelligence, here are seven reasons why your business needs a comprehensive media monitoring system for both traditional and social media. 

1. You know what’s being said about your brand — right away 

Being the first to know what’s being said about your business is crucial, as it gives you the opportunity to react and respond effectively to stakeholders. Social media gives you insights to the reaction of ordinary customers, but it is remarkably deaf to the concerns and needs of investors, other businesses, competitors or analysts. Traditional media can provide a better sounding board.  

2. You can better target your media message 

Monitoring the media gives you a better understanding of how the news cycle works, which journalists write about what topics, and the ever changing media landscape. When you need to talk to your audience, you can try speaking to the thousand or so people you want to engage with through social channels, or one or two well-known, well-connected journalists who act as gatekeepers to that group. The more you know about those influential writers, the better.  

3. You can keep tabs on your competition 

Monitoring key competitors can assist your company with its competitive strategy. While this kind of social monitoring is possible on Twitter (and to a lesser extent on Facebook) it is much harder to gain a sense of how a competitor is performing given the difficulty of obtaining accurate metrics. Watching your competitors in the traditional media, and understanding the tenor of news they receive, can be illuminating.  

4. You stay in the loop on industry changes  

You should have a solid understanding of your business environment and the latest industry news. Think of a journalist in your field this way: someone else pays them every day to go find out something you don’t already know and to share that with you. This information can be valuable — if you read it. By monitoring industry news, you can also buy in to debates and take the opportunity to offer thought leadership or insights that build your personal brand.  

5. You become a better listener to your customers 

Just as we would never recommend a business ignore traditional monitoring, social media monitoring should be part of the mix. Social listening means you can capture customer and industry sentiment, and many businesses are now leveraging that by offering real-time customer support through social channels. The extent of monitoring you need will depend on the size of your business, but at the most basic level you should be tracking any posts that mention your company.  

6. You are ready for a crisis 

If your company ever faces an issue or crisis, it’s vital to set up a comprehensive media monitoring system if you don’t have one in place already. Whether it is a workplace accident, sudden departure of a senior leader or fallout from a round of redundancies, social and traditional monitoring will flag any change in your reputation or brand sentiment. Managing the media during a crisis can be fraught, but knowing who is saying what about the issue means you are better placed to respond effectively and correct the message if needed.  

7. You develop what your business really needs: media intelligence  

Metrics like mentions and column centimetres are useful, but the best return lies in media intelligence, when those metrics are analysed and used to inform decisions and strategic action. Your monitoring should not just record what has been said, but what that mention means – will it be read by people who can make policy changes? Will it drive customers away? Will it add to weight around a particular topic? Will it undermine your competitor’s campaign? Understanding the strategic impact of social or traditional media mentions is where the value to your business lies, and that’s something a Google News search simply can’t tell you. 

Want to know more? Cannings Purple offers tailored media monitoring packages to suit your company’s needs. Whether its daily media monitoring reports of your customised keywords; urgent media monitoring and instant reporting in the midst of a crisis; or determining who are your key influencers on social media, we can help 

Ruth Callaghan More from author

Ruth uses two decades of experience as a media strategist, communications adviser and journalist to develop, deliver and distribute messages that cut through.

She specialises in providing strategic digital and content services for clients, using the principles of newsworthy and engaging content to tell compelling stories. She is a skilled media trainer and works with professionals both within and outside the communications industry to develop their digital, writing and media skills.

Ruth’s work in this field has included developing digital and inbound marketing strategies for clients, including use of lead generation software, content marketing and social media. She works with emerging technologies including virtual reality in campaigns and continues to write for publications including the Australian Financial Review.

When not distracted by the next shiny digital tool, Ruth likes to holiday in cooler climates with her family or hang out with her stubborn Scottish Terrier Maisie.

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