Home – Ditch Dumpster Diving. Monitor Media to Ethically Collect Competitive Intelligence.

Ditch Dumpster Diving. Monitor Media to Ethically Collect Competitive Intelligence.

Posted on 08-14-2015 by Megan Burnside


Competitive intelligence can be extremely valuable for informing strategic business decisions about your products, messaging, business expansions, customers and more. But when does competitive research slip into the more morally ambiguous areas of corporate espionage?

Corporate espionage isn’t new. From dumpster diving to hiring investigators to pose as journalists or volunteers, corporate espionage has been practiced for many years. More recently, electronic espionage including hacking and electronic surveillance have been added to the toolbox of the corporate spy.

How far would you go to gain valuable intelligence about your competitors? While most of us would likely draw the line at digging through competitors’ trash bins, there can be gray areas that require a careful study of corporate codes of conduct and weighing those codes against whether certain activities violate your company’s, and your own, ethics and integrity.

So what is ethical competitive intelligence? Let’s define by talking about what it’s not:

  1. It’s not spying. Ethical research and analysis is not corporate espionage. When you use publicly available information such as online news, TV broadcasts, social media, and radio to identify and assess threats and opportunities, it’s completely legitimate because everyone has access to the same information. It’s how you pull it all together and analyze it that gives you the unique insight not everyone will share.
  2. It’s not in a morally gray area. When you base your competitive intelligence on publicly available information you don’t have to worry about ethics. You didn’t hack into someone’s social media account. You’re not posing as someone you’re not. You’re using information available to everyone and that is completely ethical.
  3. It’s not as easy as a Google search. Competitive intelligence requires far more than random search engine results. You need access to an automated media monitoring and analysis platform for the most comprehensive set of news and information possible and  tools to visualize trends, measure frequency and more. You don’t get that with a simple Google search.
  4. It doesn’t give you new insights. Wrong! Just because ethical competitive intelligence is based on publicly available information doesn’t mean there aren’t nuggets of insight hidden in the data that aren’t immediately obvious to others. Advanced analytics can help you uncover which of your competitors’ messages are getting the most traction in the market and which are falling flat.
If you want to garner greater insights into your competition's strategies and strengths, comprehensive media monitoring and analytics are both effective and ethically sound. 

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Find out why you need a broader definition of ‘Competitive Intelligence’ in our white paper, Making Competitive Intelligence Work: Why Some CI Strategies Fall Short & How to Ensure Yours Don’t
  2. Check out the LexisNexis Newsdesk video overview to learn more about this powerful media-monitoring and analytics solution.
  3. Share this blog on LinkedIn to keep the dialogue going with your colleagues and contacts. 

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