What would you say if I invited you to a party where you could sit in the corner and eavesdrop on every single conversation about your brand? You’d be able to hear the most enthusiastic raves and the most serious complaints, and even spot who was proclaiming them the loudest. You’d say yes right away, don’t you think?
The value is just too tremendous to pass up. In today’s PR & marketing environment, this is exactly the way you need to view media monitoring services when you conduct a cost-benefit analysis of media monitoring costs.
Media monitoring has quickly become one of the foundations of digital PR & marketing. If the term is new to you, media monitoring means observing and collecting key customer data directly from mentions and discussions about your company (or your client’s company). These discussions take place in social media comments, product review websites, blogs, podcasts, discussion forums, and media websites.
Collecting this customer data in-house can be labor-intensive (imagine having an Excel spreadsheet, entering Yelp review scores, and labeling customer comments into confusing sentiment categories).
Luckily, media monitoring costs are probably a lot less expensive than you’re thinking and will save you and your team hours of time, provide you with timely, reliable data, and arrange it into easy-to-digest reports where clear actions can be taken. Sound good? Then, keep reading!
How much does media monitoring cost
Media monitoring services vary, which is a good thing because every company has different needs. As you begin to shop around, some considerations will be around your notification requirements, the number of platforms you want to monitor, the number of users who’ll be involved, the dashboard ease, any need for customization, and the types of reports you’ll want to collect.
Services are subscription-based, either monthly or annually, and most pricing isn’t available directly on websites. However, based on customer discussions online, we can estimate the following costs:
In general, media monitoring costs begin at $29 a month for the most basic monitoring and around $400-$700 a month for enterprise-level services.
If you’re looking for a PR tool that offers media monitoring on top of other features, prepare for a higher cost:
|Cision||Muck Rack||Meltwater||Agility PR||Brandwatch||Prowly|
|From $7,200 |
|From $10,000 |
|From $350 |
|From $800 |
|From $339 |
Not sure which level of service your team needs? Fortunately, some of these services offer media monitoring free trials, so you can test them out and make sure they include the specific features your team is looking for.
Here are the features and benefits you and your team should consider when pricing out your options:
- The number of clients and keywords you’ll need to monitor
- The total number of channels you’ll want to monitor. There are many to choose from! Do you need coverage for media outlets only, or also social media?
- The number of users. How many team members will need access to the service?
- Your agency reporting needs. Will the service’s standard ones work, or will you require the ability to build custom reports? Do you need these reports to be scheduled for automatic delivery?
If you compare media monitoring costs against running a focus group, either in-house or with an outside agency, you’ll quickly understand why many marketing and PR teams consider media monitoring costs an investment rather than an expense.
But, before you start signing up for media monitoring free trials and evaluating each service against its real cost, you should first understand the business value of media monitoring.
How media monitoring costs actually save businesses money
Yes, it’s true! Media monitoring is a business investment and provides real ROI when you make note of its major benefits. Here are the most significant ones:
It allows the company to “hear” what customers love. Your product or service may offer several benefits to the customer, but maybe only one or two of those benefits really get customers excited. Uncovering those special features will allow you to focus on them in your marketing, increasing the effectiveness of your ads and PR campaigns and helping you create more sales.
In many ways, media monitoring provides the invaluable benefits of hosting a focus group; you’re just sitting behind your computer screen instead of one-way glass.
Are your customers saying they wish your product had this or that? Are they pointing out what they like better about your competition? With the ear-to-the-ground benefits of media monitoring, you’ll find yourself taking notes not only for the marketing team, but for the product development team as well.
It creates the opportunity to provide outstanding customer service. In a timely fashion, you can see customer complaints and respond to them quickly. Public responses from the company show a commitment to listening to customers and taking negative feedback seriously. This is your opportunity to turn unhappy customers into loyal customers who provide valuable word-of-mouth referrals.
It serves as a collection point for customer testimonials. We all know that customer testimonials are PR & marketing gold. That’s why you don’t want to overlook your company’s most loyal, raving fans.
When you’re committed to media monitoring, you can spot them, reward them, and keep them spreading the word. The social proof and personal recommendations that your best customers provide are worth the cost of media monitoring alone.
In some cases, you may even spot industry influencers praising your product (in fact, many influencers call out their favorite brands specifically to catch their attention). Your brand would benefit from reaching out to these influencers and arranging future marketing collaborations.
It alerts a company early to a potential crisis. From time to time, a company inadvertently releases a marketing campaign, announcement, or product launch that isn’t accepted well by its customers, or even the general public. In these instances, an immediate corporate response is vital, so catching customer sentiment early on is a tremendous advantage.
These early flags are invaluable to anyone managing a brand’s reputation. Since a brand’s reputation is one of its greatest assets, this makes media monitoring a type of protection, or insurance, tool.
It highlights what your competition is doing better, and worse, than you. Media monitoring of your competition will put a spotlight on how your customers and potential customers see them. What advantages and drawbacks do they see from each of you? Where is the competition-winning over potential customers and how are they doing it? What is the public sentiment like around each company? The customers are having these conversations online every day, and you need to be listening closely.
It finds those media mentions for you! This is definitely music to any PR professional’s ears. Spend your time pitching and landing stories, then leave your media monitoring service to alert you when the articles are published. Once you have the alert, jump on promoting the new article. Share it on the company’s social media platforms, add it to the company website, and send the editor a big thank-you.
It’s another measurement tool for your PR campaigns. You’ve launched what you believe to be an incredible PR campaign around your company’s or client’s product. Besides tracking media mentions, you’ll want to look further down the line to customer reactions from the media mentions. Media monitoring allows you to learn whether the coverage has resulted in an increase in online discussion, shares, and comments.
There’s one more thing to remember when choosing a media monitoring service: social media listening.
Not every tool monitors social media channels, where many key conversations happen. Make sure to check which digital spaces are included in the plan you’re opting for. And in case you’re looking for a social listening tool, check out this list and get to know the difference between media monitoring and social media listening.
It helps you plan future marketing content. Sometimes customers are using your product or service in ways you hadn’t even imagined, or maybe your product is solving a particular problem for them that you overlooked. Media monitoring is excellent at pointing out trends, so pay close attention to the trending topics in your customer discussions and create more content around them on your website, blog, and social media channels.
It delivers significant in-house labor savings. There are some things only we can do, and some things we have to admit a software program can manage better. Collecting and analyzing customer feedback across multiple platforms and websites is a lot of work. A media monitoring service can do the work in minutes and leave your team to the more valuable step of acting on the customer feedback.
Since some of the best media monitoring tools offer free trials, it’s worth taking one or two promising ones for a spin. As an agency owner or in-house team leader, you may not feel like you have the time to lead the search, but time invested upfront in finding and setting one up will save you and your team time in the future.
Plus, it will provide your team with another important tool for showing the value of your PR and marketing efforts. You may even find a team member who would love the opportunity to give these services a try and report back on their findings. Since they are often closest to the daily tasks of the campaigns, they’re most likely to assess the true time savings and the extra service value-add.
Ready to start testing media monitoring tools? Try Prowly. It’s an all-in-one workflow automation solution for PR professionals, where companies of all sizes can manage media relations more effectively by saving time on routine tasks, including media monitoring.
Cover photo by Ibrahim Boran