Media Monitoring Solutions Buyer’s Guide

Media monitoring can be overwhelming. Gathering metrics, analyzing the data and measuring against objectives can be more than a full-time job. That’s where media monitoring solutions come in. There are plenty of platforms from which to choose, and they vary widely in what they offer.


It’s important to have a clear idea of what you need before you get too far into the buying process— and well before you reach out to vendors for demos and presentations of media monitoring platforms. Otherwise you may start focusing on flashy features that may not meet your needs, instead of the tools and content that will help you reach your goals.

Let this be your guide to asking the right questions so you can pick the media monitoring solution that works best for your team and your company.

Questions to Ask Yourself, Your Team and Your Stakeholders

As you begin the process of subscribing to a media monitoring solution, it’s important to know what success for your business looks like. Determine your goals for media monitoring.

Ask internal stakeholders for their input. For example, are you seeking to save your team time? Generate new earned media opportunities? Gather more intelligence?

Do you want to capture every mention or simply understand trends and tone? Do you want your team to communicate more effectively and stay on message? Do you want to gain a competitive advantage? Are there certain influencers or publications you’d like to track? Or do you want it all?

Having a clear picture of your short-and-long term strategies will inform your decision. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you make that first vendor call:


  • Who are your target audiences and where are they talking about you?

  • Who are your company’s supporters and critics?

  • Who are the key influencers within your industry?

  • Who are your competitors and what are they saying in the marketplace?

  • Which journalists and bloggers are talking about you?

  • Who is covering your senior leaders and how are they being viewed and discussed in the media?

  • Who in your company will be monitoring coverage and conversations using the platform?

  • Who will be viewing the reports?


  • What metrics are important to you and your stakeholders?

  • What are the different media types you want to monitor?

  • What are the primary media outlets that are important to you?

  • What is your crisis communications plan?

  • Which regions do you need to cover and in which languages?

  • Which monitoring needs are flexible and what is a “must have?”

  • What are your requirements today? What are your requirements long-term?


  • When throughout the day will your team be reviewing data?

  • When do you expect alerts of mentions?

  • When will you be generating reports?

  • When do you expect your search terms to be picked up and made visible in the platform for viewing?

  • When do you expect be trained on the platform?

  • When do you expect the platform to be ready for use post-sale?


  • Where will you access the media monitoring platform most often?

  • Do you travel a lot? Do you need alerts sent to your smartphone?

  • Where would you like to see all of your data? Do you need an integrated platform?

  • Where can I get help from customer service if needed?


  • How important is post-sale customer support?

  • What type of training will your team need?

  • How important is budget vs. performance value?

  • How comprehensive is our requirement to justify cost?

  • How do you share results with senior management?

  • How do you keep your organization on message?

  • How does your team react to a crisis? Will you need multiple people to access the platform?

  • How is your team measuring ROI on campaigns and programs?

  • How many users will you have?

Questions to Ask Your Vendor

Now that you’ve performed your internal “monitoring audit” and you have a couple of services in mind, make sure you’re asking your potential vendors the right questions. If you don’t ask, you won’t get what you ultimately need. So be thorough with your questioning process. You want to make sure the service you choose will perform in the ways you want and need.

You’ll want to base your evaluation of the service on four key areas: content, functionality, reliability and support. Translate your answers from above to establish the criteria for these four areas.


Media monitoring solutions are content aggregators, and you will need to dig into the specific types of content the platform collects:

  • What kind of content do they cover and collect? Social, print, television, radio, online news, blogs, etc.

  • How is the content displayed in the platform?

  • Can I add filters to remove the noise of unwanted content?

  • How many outlets are monitored?

  • Does it cover different languages if required?

  • Which outlets are monitored? Does the service cover the publications that are the most important to your firm?

  • Is the content licensed for sharing?

  • Can I add content from other sources my organization subscribes to, e.g., an industry newsfeed?

  • Can I monitor archived content and how far back can I search?


Media monitoring solutions differ on look and feel. It’s important to know how they compare. Find one that best suits how your department operates. Here are some questions to ask about the software’s functionality:

  • How user-friendly is the platform?

  • How many search terms does it include?

  • How advanced is the functionality when creating search strings? Will my team need to be Boolean search experts?

  • How accurate are the results? Am I going to miss mentions?

  • How easy is it to organize, save and manage the content for future use (e.g., quarterly reports)?

  • Can I address other business and communications needs within the platform, outside of monitoring, e.g., building media lists, engaging with key influencers or distributing content?

  • How quickly can I generate my own reports?

  • Can I customize the look and feel of interface, e.g.,customized dashboards or branded reports?

  • How is the content displayed in the platform?

  • Can I preview the content from the platform?


With a range of media monitoring solutions to choose from, you should make sure to evaluate how reliable the provider is when it comes to security and support. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • How secure is their platform?

  • Where is their data center located?

  • What are other customers saying about the platform?

  • What are other customers saying about customer support?

  • What are their hours of support? Is it 24/7, or during business hours?

  • What’s the typical turn-around time for support to get back to clients?


From your internal monitoring audit, you should have a pretty good idea of your service needs, readying you to ask the following questions:

  • How do clients get help using the platform?

  • What’s the standard onboarding process?

  • What kinds of support do they offer? On-site? Full-training? Tutorials? Resource Center?

  • How big is the support team and when are they available?

  • Can I have support perform ongoing or on-demand monitoring and in-depth reporting on custom projects? How much will that cost?


Prep Complete, Now It’s Time to Take a Look at Media Monitoring Solutions

After your preparation and research, it’s time to contact a few vendors for more information and a demo of their media monitoring solutions. What should you expect so that you can truly assess whether the platform will meet your requirements and organizational goals?

  • The vendor should ask questions to identify your core business needs and evaluate the context in which your company might use the platform.

  • The vendor should make sure a mix of media monitoring users, buyers and stakeholders is represented in the session.

  • Using this information, the vendor will prepare a demonstration to show how the solution provides relevant metrics and satisfies your requirements.

  • During the demo you’ll get a chance to see how the platform performs and will be shown all of the bells and whistles—and how the solution answers all of your questions.

  • The vendor may also provide you with some sample reports that you can share with your internal stakeholders.

Make Informed—and Strategic—Decisions

You’re taking your media monitoring management program to the next level. But before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you’re evaluating the providers from all angles. There are many things to consider when it comes to choosing a media monitoring solution that best fits your business needs. You just need to ask the right questions.


PR Newswire’s portfolio of services and solutions helps communicators of all stripes achieve their communications goals—from building awareness with new audiences and gaining media pickup, to managing reputation and inspiring investor confidence—by sharing, targeting, tracking and enhancing your unique content to make the most of your content investment. Our media monitoring solutions include:

• Media Targeting & Monitoring— Reach influential journalists with our list-building tools and multichannel distribution network, and monitor conversations about your brand across global media, with metrics to uncover actionable media intelligence.

• Professional Services— Leverage the expertise of our Professional Services team for your custom media research projects.

  • Configuration, implementation and roll-out of media monitoring solutions.

  • Ongoing monitoring and in-depth reporting on your brand and key topics.

  • On-demand research and analysis for campaigns, topics and issues.