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Stay Alert to Reputational Risk with These Seven Tips

May 09, 2024 (4 min read)
Media intelligence is a key way to keep on top of your brand reputation and manage your brand.

Content is king when it comes to improving brand recognition; however, context is king when it comes to managing reputational risk. Simply put, reputation is rooted in perception, and to truly manage reputational risk, you must first measure perception.

As researchers wrote for the Harvard Business Review, “A detailed and structured analysis of what the media are saying is especially important because the media shape the perceptions and expectations of all stakeholders.”

Staying alert to reputational risk means obtaining the keys to the context kingdom. It means using media intelligence to conduct—and elevate—a media audit of your brand, organization, or campaign to determine where it is mentioned, how it is talked about, who is talking about it, what is being said about it, if your target audience is consuming it, how they are engaging with it, and how your brand compares to its industry competition.

Think of these seven tips below as a blueprint to follow as you unlock the power of media intelligence for your brand, organization, or campaign’s media audit.

1.         Cast a wide net for data collection

Don’t limit what media you include as you mine it and monitor it. Depending on the topic, a personal blog post that mentions your brand can go viral quickly in today’s media landscape. News organizations may take notice and could decide to feature User-Generated Content (UGCs a lead story.

So, for example, if you include blogs as part of your media monitoring, either through a simple web search or through using a media monitoring tool, you can catch mentions with potential and take the appropriate action.

2.         Track the digital footprint

Recognize that the Internet is a big, wide-open space. Research the types of websites where mentions of your brand appear beyond mainstream news. Follow linked content in stories where your brand is mentioned to better understand context about the mention.

Read user comments when they are available to understand more about reach and perception. Pay attention to who is sharing content about your brand and determine their target audiences and what their intentions are for sharing the content. This will alert you to any reputational risk factors already present in online conversation.

MORE: How to use metadata in your media monitoring

3.         Keep up with social media

Take the same approach we outlined above for tracking a brand’s digital footprint and apply it specifically to social media content. Start with your brand’s strategy and target audience. Then follow the posts, replies, and engagements to learn as much as you can about how your brand appears on social media, user perceptions of it, and levels of engagement. You’ll also get a sense of any negative sentiment that is contributing to the conversation.

You can also consider following key influencers in your industry to determine if it makes sense to add influencer marketing to your strategy.

4.         Collaborate across departments

Marketing research and data should complement media intelligence and vice versa. It should offer communications professionals additional layers of context about current customer behavior and reveal opportunities to work together to bring new customers to the table, better brand management, and a deeper understanding of ways you can protect your brand’s reputation.

MORE: Media monitoring 101

5.         Use active media monitoring

Media monitoring tools often have an option to deliver daily or on-demand compilations of your media mentions to your inbox—and that’s a great place to start. But savvy PR and communications pros know it’s wise to separately run a quick web search to ensure your daily results are as comprehensive as possible.

If your media monitoring service doesn’t offer a human-powered daily newsletter with headlines, article snippets, key takeaways, or other data points that matter to your organization, consider using your automated daily alerts as a starting point, not a finish line, to determine if other mentions exist.

6.         Get creative with keyword queries

When mining for media mentions of your brand, organization, or campaign, don’t stop at its name. For example, if your company has a love-hate following—think Meta, Tesla, or Amazon—it’s helpful to also include searches that include your competitors, cities where you have a major retail presence, and even negative words you know have been used in the past.

Keyword creativity opens your search to find mentions you weren’t expecting, and those mentions can sometimes have a big impact on your brand’s reputation.

MORE: The ultimate crisis communications checklist

7.         Document all findings

Come up with a tracking system beyond what your dashboards provide. This could be a spreadsheet to track every mention, every day. It could be a document you keep with monthly analysis results, insights, and actions. And make sure more than one person has access to this information and keeps it up to date. Ultimately, you’re creating a history of media coverage of your brand, organization, or campaign that will prove valuable to other employees when you’re long gone. Past media intelligence findings offer another level of context and a way to compare progress and growth.

If you’re curious to learn more about how media intelligence can impact your media audit—including how to get started—download our latest ebook, Mastering Media Intelligence: Essential Skills for the Future of PR.