Almost all types of organizations depend on media coverage to get their name out there, market themselves, and develop their brand. Before developing creative strategies and solidifying angles, a media audit is a crucial first step. This ensures that you get all the information about your opportunity as compared to your competitors.
Unless you have experience with a public relations or communications firm, you might not know what a media audit is. A media agency audit is a tool used to research your organization. Businesses use media audits to find out what type of coverage has been done in the past, where the competition has been or is currently being discussed, and what the experts are saying about agencies like yours.
However, media audits aren’t one-size-fits-all. They must be done well by an experienced team that knows how to dig deep into specific areas. The purpose of an audit is to reveal where the opportunity to dominate the conversation lies—the goal is for an agency to be seen as a leader in the industry, not a follower without any original ideas.
Media audits also analyze past coverage to understand what went well, what didn’t go as planned, and how the target markets responded to specific areas of coverage. It’s important to review previous responses from journalists, bloggers, editors, and producers, and general public to the coverage. Media agency audits also dive deeper into what gained the most excitement: What topics created new buzzwords or what was shared? Did anything “go viral”? How well were the intended messages received (by various parties)?
This information makes it easier to recognize the strategic points that need adjustment so that media coverage is maximized—both in quality and quantity.
These analyses wouldn’t be as effective if they weren’t compared to competitor’s audit information. What did they do well and where did they fall short? What types of narratives generated new or return interest in your industry? It’s important to be familiar with the publications, websites, and reporters who take an active role in the industry, this is where you’re going to have success in reaching out. It also allows you to see what is already dominating the ad space and how you can be a creative and unique voice in your field so that your agency isn’t lost across the share of voice. Focusing part of the media audit on competitors help decide what models you want to follow as well as what to avoid.
The “5 W’s” of writing in school applies here, too. Media audits help you understand who is talking about your agency, what they’re saying, when (or how often) they’re saying it, where the conversations are taking place, and why they feel that way (how your campaign came across).
This is crucial to understand in order to further develop marketing strategies since every piece of communication put out should be part of a cohesive overall strategy.
Media audits, sometimes called marketing assessments, are beneficial because they give you detailed information about all aspects of your organization.
Your media audit might uncover some information that isn’t exactly what you want to hear. However, it is important to know what’s not going well so that an adjustment can be made to fix it. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in the same pattern year in and year out, which will eventually be the downfall of your organization.
A solid marketing plan needs to have clearly defined goals. If the strategy isn’t helping in reaching those goals, then you could be wasting money and/or not setting goals appropriately. A comprehensive audit will help you review your goals and adjust them so that you can achieve your vision. This is about quality over quantity.
If you have your hands in several areas of the industry, it can be difficult to determine which of those areas are producing a high-quality product. A successful audit will help gain insight into which lead-generation tactics are working and which aren’t. Often, an outside perspective has been proven to be helpful here. You don’t want to continue putting forth time and money into the marketing efforts that aren’t useful, so readjusting and letting go of what isn’t working can be extremely beneficial to the brand.
Your target market likely is not going to be the same forever. As the world changes and products and brands evolve, there may be new populations who want what’s being sold. Others might have moved on. This is par for the course. However, it is necessary to keep up with the present trends and ensure that the messages are still being geared toward those who will bring profit. An audit can help adjust the message, stay relevant, curate your offerings, and adjust your strategy to stay in front of the right audience.
At the same time, the Internet and social media are constantly changing. Perhaps you represented your brand on a website or social media profile in the past, and that message or platform is no longer consistent with the brand or what’s being offered. Consistency is key, so a media audit will help to find the places that need to be adjusted.
Is Internet presence doing its job to convert traffic into leads, and leads into loyal customers? It is essential to have a modern, mobile-friendly website that effectively communicates the message and product or service. Without an optimized, high-quality website, you won’t be visible to the community and be drowned out by the competition.
Thus, it is necessary to use audit data as a tool to improve SEO and overall web presence. The website should be the foundation of your brand and marketing strategy. It is essential to keep this website relevant and at the forefront of your industry.
Using appropriate tools to lessen the burden keeps the brand, service, or product effective, efficient, and profitable. There is only a finite amount of resources, and—especially if you’re a small business—these resources create the most amount of profit when they’re used appropriately. When recourses are wasted, money is also wasted.
A media agency audit will help to analyze the following systems and decide where to alter activities to make them work better for the campaigns and goals of a brand.
Once all of these successes and hurdles are recognized and addressed, you’re better prepared to adjust your campaign plans and execute them effectively. However, if results are being seen with specific practices continue with what was working and make alterations where necessary. A high-quality auditing firm will be able to give strategy tips and plans for these adjustments, too.
Every company that needs marketing to spread its message benefits from a media audit. However, different-sized businesses have different needs. When choosing an agency to perform a media audit, ensure they have experience within the particular industry and with companies that are the same size with the same target market.
Different-sized companies can also benefit from the extra features of a media audit. Some audits will also review budgets and ROIs to understand how effectively investments are performing. If a business has a significant number of executives or “company faces,” your media audit can also include an analysis of their communication, skills, and values and how they align with the business as a whole.
All companies, no matter the size, benefit from media audits as they tell you:
Different companies provide various levels of services when conducting media audits. As you navigate bids and offers, look for a vendor that offers you a complete package. It’s important that they provide more than just a booklet of data points—but detailed analysis, interpretation of information, opportunities for improvement, and recommendations based on the professionals’ opinions and experience. This applies to every industry, whether it’s healthcare, retail, technology development, financial planning, or B2B products and services.
The following categories cover what should be included in a comprehensive media agency audit.
Media coverage volume includes how often the agency is mentioned in the media. It goes deeper, though, to also include what exactly was said. Were the mentions solely about your company or brand or were you simply included in a laundry list of your competition?
It’s important to know more than just the volume itself. Specific data points that, when put together, are necessary when creating a dynamic picture of media exposure. This helps set goals for future campaigns.
The coverage volume should then be further analyzed to understand the sentiment behind what is being said. Are the comments positive, negative, or neutral? Is the message being conveyed appropriately? Is the brand being mentioned in the same tone as their competition? How is the brand’s presence viewed compared to others?
These sentiments might differ based on where they come from, too. Generally, media coverage is divided into four distinct categories, so it is beneficial to ensure the data being received is from each of these.
Looking at each of these areas helps understand where your strengths lie and where the opportunities to hone your marketing to put forth an even stronger message lie. Don’t ignore any of these areas; each has its particular importance in the larger puzzle.
Your audit should include keywords, relevant topics, and emerging market trends, in order to stay relevant and not overlooked in relation to your competition. An audit will helps stay ahead of the changes in each category so that a campaign can be altered accordingly.
This category is similar to both voice and volume. It looks at the leadership within the organization and how their roles are represented. Are there individuals associated with your brand to begin with? People connect with people, so having leaders at the forefront can mean it’s easier for consumers to connect with your brand. Those leaders need to be positive, strong, and respected members of the industry or community. It’s in the best interest for a brand to stay away from placing someone in the forefront just to have them there. Ensure they’re someone whom you would want to be the face of the brand.
Audit analyses in this category should look at what qualities are important for leaders of the industry and whom people trust with their time, money, and connections.
It’s not just about the executives’ backgrounds, but also the messages they relay about the company and brand. This information helps curate talking points and stories to further solidify the message. This step is essential to understand future goals and how to navigate campaigns and delegation moving forward.
It’s also important to know what the industry experts are saying about the company and brand. These types of commentary include analyses about how the brand is performing in comparison to competition, brand strength and relative efforts, and the financial stability (overall and compared to others in the industry). Is the brand an investment risk or seen as solid and dependable?
Using analyst commentary in conjunction with media coverage volume can show where there are disconnects in positioning, too. Are you well-known and respected just in your niche field, or overall? If people are seeking out something from the company that’s new to them, will they recognize the brand name as a trusted company in the industry?
Today’s digital age makes it easier than ever for people to share their opinions and experiences about all businesses, companies, products, and services. This makes it even more important for brands to take a proactive role in how they’re represented to the community.
Media audits, then, should include hard data and detailed examples of what customers, influencers, and bloggers are saying about you. Keep in mind the “5 W’s” again: who, what, where, when, and why. The more information, the clearer the whole picture becomes and the more control you have in the way your brand is represented and seen by consumers as a whole.
Who is giving the most high-quality coverage? Who is helping achieve your goals and marketing you in the most positive, profitable way? A media audit helps to pinpoint those publishers and writers who not only have given your company or industry positive coverage in the past but who will be worth the time and effort it takes to nurture strong relationships. This detailed analysis assists in uncovering where new opportunities lie, particularly if the competition hasn’t gotten there first.
Of course, the other end of that spectrum is figuring out who isn’t ideal to use for coverage. This isn’t about popularity contests; it’s about deciding who is the best fit for your company and your message. An agency that doesn’t have experience or interest in your brand or message won’t be very beneficial, they may be a great fit for a different organization, however. Alternatively, if you want to work with a particular media agency that isn’t currently providing the coverage you need, is there a way you can alter your offerings to get onto their radar?
Positive, profitable outcomes from a media agency audit, is of course the most ideal. However, it’s important to also think about a media audit as a foundation from which all other strategies take off. The myriad information obtained from a media audit is very telling when it comes to past and current coverage that organizations in the industry are getting. Thus, you can focus your topics so that you are perceived as the expert in the field.
Media audits help create pitches that show leadership in the industry. These targeted pitches help understand who to pitch them to in the first place so that the media contact list remains strong. Once you know who you’ll reach out to (i.e., journalists, reporters, publishers, etc.) you can research these people and companies so that you can tailor your conversations to each individual. This helps create deep connections that make the processes more efficient down the road. All media agents, no matter the scope, will be more interested in what you have to say when its demonstrated that the time was taken to understand where they are coming from, too. This shows respect for their craft, time, and position. Essentially, it’s a win-win: you get the coverage you want and need for the target market and they get stories that bring in attention.
Media audits, then, can be seen as a tool to use to determine the unique niche in the media presence. They help to find the right match between agency and media sources that will help reach your intended audience. This all comes together to create stronger media coverage that makes reach your goals more attainable.
After this analysis has been completed, you need to know how to move forward. With that being said, the strategy recommendations are the final part of a media audit; they’re the push forward for your brand after all the preparation.
First, you need to know who the PR team is going to target for the next campaign. Which media outlets and writers will be the focus? The team should also develop a strong message and a strategy for pitching to these particular outlets. The goal here is to create strong, established relationships that convey the right message.
Next, it’s important to have recommendations on increasing visibility. What are the topics that should be discussed and how are you going to get your message across to your current market? How will you continue to bring in new clients and stay relevant in your field?
There should also be recommendations considering how to keep control over the message and how to improve executive visibility. Therefore, your media audit needs to have a strategy for developing the face of your company and coaching them on their public performance.
Depending on the size and scale of the business, media audits can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months. However, when a vendor is chosen and a package has been decided on, this information should be front and center and clearly outlined. It’s of extreme importance for the audit to take place in a time frame that allows for adjustment for current campaigns and plans for the future.
Putting together all the required documents and filling out any paperwork that the agency asks you to provide, can help prepare for a successful and timely media audit.
As the market rapidly changes, the information obtained from a media audit will change with the different strategies and practices for a brand that are being implemented. Regular audits help to:
Many organizations choose to do a year-end audit, which can help see a bigger-picture view of past campaigns - others do one at the end of each campaign so that they can plan for the next. Talk with your potential media agency audit providers to get an idea of what they offer and how these options will best benefit your organization.
There are so many agencies that perform media audits, and not all of them will be the right fit. Ensure the right questions are being asked and that the package they offer you hits all your brand’s needs.
It’s critical to choose a company that will be an unbiased third party. It isn’t ideal for an agency that is swayed by insider information or unrealistic expectations. This is why it’s wise to go outside of your company’s marketing team so that the data and analyses are objective.
Audits aren’t a choice—or rather, they shouldn’t be. All successful marketers use media audits to build trustworthy, strong relationships with the media and help consumers find agencies that can serve them well. They determine whether or not campaigns are meeting expectations and provide concrete data and analysis to strategically develop further campaigns.
MatrixPoint’s capability to provide a detailed media audit for a brand will allow for growth and insight into what strategies are successful and what strategies may need a bit more help from our media consultants. MatrixPoint’s consultants will provide recommendations from the audit performed to ensure that your company makes the right decisions when it comes to determining the best strategies your business to be successful and maximize marketing budgets.
Our experts will provide an audit with the information necessary to strengthen marketing strategies and provide detailed measurements and recommendations for your brand or business.
Ready to schedule a consultation with MatrixPoint’s marketing experts? Contact us now to learn more about how we can help.