Online Media Monitoring: Challenges and Solutions

While media monitoring can take various forms, it is a critical component of any public relations and communications strategy, regardless of whether you are a do-it-yourself expert, a self-serve connoisseur, or a full-service fanatic. Depending on their aims and available funds, some PR professionals use free tools for a purely DIY approach, while others invest significantly in full-service media monitoring. Then there are the various public relations firms and in-house teams that lie somewhere in between, investing in a media monitoring tool to follow and report on their own coverage.

While a self-serve monitoring tool is less expensive than a full-service solution, it is still a significant financial investment for many firms, which users will want to maximize. While there is a wealth of information available on maximizing the capabilities of your media monitoring tool, vendors are less likely to resolve issues with self-serve solutions.

That is why we have created a list of the most common roadblocks to optimizing self-serve media monitoring, along with recommendations for overcoming them.

1. Search results with faulty references

Two frequent complaints about the amount of “noise” and the frequency of duplicate mentions appearing in users’ search results. To top it off, consumers may configure a coverage alert, which clogs their inbox with irrelevant emails.

If the results of your media monitoring leave you scratching your head—or shaking your head—time to act.


Returning to the drawing board is frequently the most effective technique to eliminate superfluous statements. First, examine the filters associated with the previous searches you’ve created. Bear the following in mind when examining your search structures:

Create a new search by copying and pasting an old one. Add the filters one by one, beginning broad and working your way in. This may reveal anything you missed the first time you set up the search. When you come across an apparently unimportant media mention, use the CTRL + F shortcut to locate the search keyword within the copy. This will enable you to quickly identify the keyword that got this article or transcript to the top of your search results. After reading a few articles in this manner, you’ll have a clear notion of which terms are problematic in your search.

From there, you may refine your search by including negative keywords to eliminate irrelevant mentions.

Consider how and where your search can be broken down into smaller, more targeted searches if it returns an overwhelming number of results. For instance, if you’ve created a search for industry news, you could segment it into two sections: regulatory updates and emerging industry trends.

Ensure that any phrases that must be kept together are included in quote marks. If you’re looking for ice cream, for example, you should spell it out as “ice cream” to avoid results that contain only the words “ice” or “cream.”

Examine each filter available in your tool. Some are not immediately apparent to beginner users, such as scanning simply the headline for keywords or enabling case sensitivity for shorter terms. Without case sensitivity, a search for “IDA” may return a large number of irrelevant results.

The expert mode will be accessible in some media monitoring applications, enabling new capabilities such as more creative phrase grouping and proximity searches.

2. Unnoticed media mentions

Nothing is more vexing than overlooking critical media references in your research. A missed mention could result in you missing an early warning sign of an issue, a vital competition update, or a significant placement obtained by your brand or client that you would have liked to highlight. While some users may rely on Google or social media to supplement their information, this is far from ideal. It increases your workload and requires you to split your media coverage among numerous tools, which is cumbersome for reporting.


It increases your workload and requires you to split your media coverage among numerous tools, which is cumbersome for reporting.

Unrecognized mentions should be addressed during the purchase or renewal process. Ascertain that you are asking the appropriate questions of your vendor and obtaining the most accurate information possible about the capabilities of the instrument you are using or contemplating.

Not all platforms are created equal, so make sure yours has a proven track record of presenting an accurate picture of coverage. To begin, it’s a good idea to study online reviews of media monitoring services. Take the time to read both positive and negative remarks. Keep a lookout for reviews that highlight the issue of missing mentions.

3. Disorganized coverage that has been saved

Once you’ve configured your searches and begun skimming through coverage, it’s easy to feel as though you’ve strayed. The sheer volume of media references might be frightening, even more so if you’re searching for a wide variety of terms or types of media.

It gets even more challenging when you wish to report on your coverage from multiple angles, such as all of your brand’s specific products and product lines.


It might be aggravating to be surrounded by media attention. Fortunately, this is one of the more straightforward media monitoring issues to resolve.

The following are some suggestions:

Be as specific as possible with your searches. While some broad search phrases are necessary, you can save considerable time by running a series of more tailored searches. If, for example, you work in a bakery that sells three distinct types of baked goods, you can run separate searches for “cakes,” “pies,” and “muffins,” in addition to a general search. After you’ve limited your search results, some solutions enable you to automatically tag and organize the coverage into several reports.

Take advantage of this feature if your media monitoring solution enables you to tag each media mention with several tags! Returning to the bakery example, you may include tags for tastes in addition to the sort of baked product. You can, for instance, label items with the components they include, such as “blueberry” or “carrot.” This way, you can monitor media interest in cakes, pies, and muffins, as well as items including blueberries or carrots. This enables you to report on your bakery as a whole while also locating relevant and valuable data.

4. Reporting on difficulty is becoming increasingly significant 

Regrettably, several media monitoring programs have been unable to meet the need for customizable reporting. Online reviews commonly express dissatisfaction with the tool’s ease of use and setup. When you consider how difficult it is to modify many reports, it’s clear why this is a significant issue for public relations practitioners. Unfortunately, the reporting capabilities of a media monitoring tool are limited that PR professionals use spreadsheet tools to accomplish goals, requiring more time and effort.


If you’re in a position to explore media monitoring businesses, it’s extremely advantageous to have an in-depth presentation of reporting capabilities before signing on. Inquire about the ability to customize reports to match your requirements, as well as the ease with which they may be shared.

If you are unable to change suppliers, the following tips can help you maximize the reporting capabilities of your present tool:

How you structure your searches and mentions has a huge impact on how you report on coverage. If you confine your reporting to a few key themes, your reporting options will be severely limited. To learn more about how to structure your references, review the preceding section’s instructions.

Send comments about your concerns to your support/account management team to see what they can do to help you meet your reporting needs.

5. Inability to conduct independent searches

Surprisingly, several media monitoring tools continue to deny customers the ability to make custom searches. This can be a source of frustration for users who cannot update their searches quickly or frequently enough, as all changes must be approved by an account manager.

This is inefficient and inconvenient for users who must wait for fresh issues to be discussed.


Inability to access your own searches, like most worries, can be handled simply by having an honest discussion with the media monitoring business before signing on. Some vendors may attempt to minimize the utility of this feature and the inconvenience it causes users; therefore, make sure to acquire a clear answer regarding whether you will retain control over your searches.

Apart from advising your supplier of the inconvenient nature of this process, there may not be much else you can do except shift suppliers.

Whichever media monitoring platform you choose, your business should have a committed team on hand to assist you in addressing and resolving any concerns. If you overlooked something throughout the purchasing process, it’s worth bringing it to the vendor’s attention now to see what can be done. If they value your business, they will go above and beyond to ensure your satisfaction. However, if you are not receiving the kind of customer service you require, it may be time to switch tools. Before renewing your current agreement, we urge that you set a reminder for yourself to study various media monitoring programs.

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