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A Step-by-Step Guide to Effective Media Monitoring for Better Media Ties

A Step-by-Step Guide to Effective Media Monitoring for Better Media Ties

Cultivating meaningful relationships with the media is not an overnight task. Communicators need to invest time and effort through pitching and striking up conversations, such as providing timely industry updates, exploring story possibilities and commenting on journalists’ social media accounts, .

At the core of these PR efforts is the age-old adage of knowing the journalists’ and their media outlet’s audience well. According to Cision’s 2020 State of the Media report, 37% of journalists stated that the number one thing that PR pros can help is to understand the media’s target audience, and what they find relevant.

One way of ensuring that pitches are relevant is through media monitoring. It helps to hone PR strategies by allowing brands to manage how they are perceived by the public, and be part of trends and conversations. By providing useful information to journalists that can add value to their stories, communicators can meaningfully engage them and increase the chances of pitching stories that resonate with the media’s audiences.

In this step-by-step article, we explore how media monitoring can provide nifty insights beyond tracking media coverage – from determining the influence of key journalists to understanding the media’s audience profile.


What happens after receiving media coverage?

Take popular video-sharing social networking service TikTok, for example. During the past few months, the popularity of the app skyrocketed especially among teenagers, due to stay-home restrictions. The influx of catchy short-form music-based videos on TikTok has spawned trending hashtags, including #ObsessedWithIt, #AlwaysLearning and the #WipeItDown challenge. Some of these quirky videos have captured global media attention, which highlights the diverse and universal appeal of the app.

What happens after brands receive glowing media coverage? We utilize media monitoring tool, Cision Communications Cloud® to find out how brands, such as TikTok, can ride on this momentum and glean insights from the coverage to establish stronger media relations in 6 steps.


Step 1: Listen to media channels for trending topics

 According to Cision Communications Cloud®, TikTok’s media mentions by international media increased by almost four times from mid-January to mid-July.


Media mentions of TikTok have been growing steadily from mid-January to mid-July.
Media mentions of TikTok have been growing steadily from mid-January to mid-July. (Cision Communications Cloud)


Step 2: Check if media coverage is aligned to key communications messages 

TikTok’s Newsroom page is a content hub for corporate news, community initiatives and data security measures. From these recent company initiatives and news, we pick out recent corporate messaging targeted at B2C and B2B audiences, and see if they are reflected in the media coverage.

Cision Communications Cloud
Media coverage of the top 4 consumer topics mentioned in TikTok’s Newsroom from mid-January to mid-July. (Photo: Cision Communications Cloud)


In June, TikTok-related coverage on ‘Inclusivity & Diversity’ saw a sharp spike to 1,238 mentions by international media. This period coincided with the Black Lives Matter protests and Pride Week. In response, TikTok issued a progress report on how the company is supporting black communities and promoting diversity and inclusion on programs on its platform, and started a #MyPride campaign to celebrate content from the LGBTQ+ community.

 Cision Communications Cloud
Media coverage of the top 4 B2B topics mentioned in TikTok’s Newsroom page from mid-January to mid-July. (Photo: Cision Communications Cloud)


On the B2B front, TikTok-related media coverage on ‘data security and privacy’ surged to 2,949 mentions in July. Recently, the company rolled out a series of roadmap updates and reviews on its security infrastructure to protect users’ data privacy and ensure a safe online experience. A noteworthy increase in media coverage is on ‘TikTok For Business’. In late June, TikTok launched TikTok For Business, which provides marketing solutions for brands who want to engage with the app’s community.


Step 3: Target key media outlets

After distilling key topics that emerge from the media coverage, it is time to zero in on the key media that have been covering TikTok’s developments? We analyze this from two angles – keyword mentions in articles and the number of shares on social media. Media pitching and relations efforts can then be prioritized on these media outlets.

Cision Communications Cloud
The top 5 media with the highest number of TikTok-related mentions on ‘data security and privacy’ in their articles from mid-January to mid-July. (Photo: Cision Communications Cloud)


A Step-by-Step Guide to Effective Media Monitoring for Better Media Ties
The top 5 media with the highest number of social media shares of TikTok-related articles that are linked to ‘data security and privacy’ from mid-January to mid-July. (Photo: Cision Communications Cloud)


By analyzing the media monitoring report, trends, such as key media to engage with and industry topics, can be identified. From the narrowed-down media list, a contact list of journalists can be built up and efforts can be focused on cultivating relationships with them.


Step 4: Understand the media’s audience

Understanding the types of stories and angles that each media prioritize is crucial in cultivating good working relationships. According to Cision Communications Cloud®, The Verge is one of the top media outlets that covers news related to TikTok. Its audience demographics is male-centric, with males making up 79% of its viewership, and 71% of its audiences are 25 to 44 years old. The Verge also has an active social media presence, with a following of more than 3.5 million people on its Facebook account.


The Verge’s audience overview and the social interaction breakdown of one of its better-performing posts. (Photo: Cision Communications Cloud)


Equipped with such insights, PR pros can customize more targeted pitches for The Verge that are aligned to the interests of their primary target audience – young and technology-savvy male adults. A targeted pitch is written with an audience in mind and helps journalists understand the significance of reporting the news to their audiences.


Step 5: Determine the influence of key journalists 

It is important to understand the organizational structure of the media that you are pitching to. Anthony Ha, Senior Writer, TechCrunch said in an interview with Cision: “Try and find out more about the organization you are pitching to. This is not necessarily transparent but at TechCrunch, we are a very writer-driven organization, so it makes sense to pitch to a writer rather than an editor.”

Using Cision Communications Cloud®, the amount of influence and weight that journalists have can be determined, based on metrics such as the number of articles produced and average shares of articles. Their contact details and preferred modes of contact are also available in the database.

The media database in Cision Communications Cloud®.(Photo: Cision Communications Cloud)

TikTok’s developments are closely watched by media outlets that cover technology news. Using the Cision Communications Cloud®, journalists who are highly regarded in the technology arena based on their content and social media following can be identified.

Examples include Rebecca F.*, a technology contributor for Forbes and CNBC, and Cat Z.*, a technology policy reporter at The Washington Post. Besides reporting day-to-day news, Cat Z. also helms The Technology 202 weekly column that is also distributed as a dedicated newsletter for subscribers, which increases the influence that she carries. (*The journalists’ names have been amended to protect their identities.)

On the other hand, Rebecca F. focuses on technological advancements and global innovation in her articles for Forbes and CNBC. Both journalists share similar traits: the need to receive timely materials to report on and achieving a prominent influence among their audiences.

Articles by Rebeca F., a Forbes and CNBC contributor. (Photo: Cision Communications Cloud)


Step 6: Build relationships with journalists by adding value to their work

According to TechCrunch’s Anthony Ha, “Reporters aren’t just a tool for promotion.” With Cision Communications Cloud®, PR pros can understand reporting preferences and go one step further.

They can think about how to add value to the work of journalists. Do not always expect coverage – even though you might not have news this time, you can also provide them with industry updates and resources or share relevant contacts for their articles from time to time.

According to Cision’s 2020 State of the Media Report, 51% of journalists plan for their future stories daily or even within shorter time frames. This makes it more challenging for corporate news to capture the attention of the media all the time. However, they can keep information and contacts in mind that can be readily used for their upcoming line-up of articles.

Hence, getting your messages to journalists need to be strategic and purposeful, in order to clinch coverage and build solid ties with the media.

Here are some media relations tips to get started:

  1. Clearly understand which topics and media have driven your media monitoring trends, and ensure that media angles are aligned with your company’s key messages.
  2. Establish a more comprehensive media contact list and network based on media mentions and interactions.
  3. Get a more in-depth understanding of your audience profile and create tailored pitches to journalists that explain why reporting your news is beneficial to their readers.
  4. Follow the articles and developments of influential journalists, especially those who specialize in certain industries. Based on the journalist’s reporting preferences, consider how you can add value to their work. It is not about just requesting for media coverage all the time.


Click here to find out more how Cision Communications Cloud® can strengthen your media relations through listening to media channels for trending topics, and targeting and building relationships with key journalists and influencers.


This blog post is written by Kenneth Goh, Senior Marketing Executive at PR Newswire. A former journalist, he relishes keeping track of breaking news as much as telling stories with trends and data. Connect with him via Linkedin.