Few sentences in the field of media monitoring fill me with more dread than this one: “Here is the list of keywords we want to monitor.”
It’s usually followed by a copied-and pasted list, or an attached Word document containing an unstructured or bulleted stream of terms, in no particular order (or worse, sorted alphabetically).
I’ve learned a LOT of things about a lot of industries in the many years I’ve worked in this business. I know what shale gas and fracking are (no, I’m not swearing at you!) I know that monitoring Canadian air transportation news requires the exclusion of mentions of the “Air Canada Centre.” I can help you monitor for just about any topic you can describe to me.
But that’s the key – media monitoring is about TOPICS, not keywords. And you need to be able to describe the purpose and intent of a topic.
Of course, keywords are a part of that. Any topic will have keywords as the basis for monitoring. But within your keyword list, some things belong together. They may be related concepts, whose mentions all belong under the same topic heading. And for other keywords, not every mention may be relevant. There might be qualifiers – only show me mentions of this word when this other word is also present. Or exclude mentions of this keyword if they’re in the same story as another word.
Setting up your media monitoring topics requires a bit of reverse-engineering. What is the intended final product of your monitoring? Is it a daily media brief, distributed to a group of users in your company? Is it an analytical report, comparing coverage of issues (topics), or over time? The structure of this end product will help you decide on your topics.
Only after you’ve decided on the topics you wish to monitor is it time to start thinking about keywords. You could brainstorm a big list of words and phrases, and then sort them by the topics you’d already decided to monitor. Or you could look at each of these topic lists and come up with keywords and phrases that would generate relevant hits on each one. You’ll likely do a little bit of both. You’ll also likely find that some of your keywords belong to more than one topic – and that’s ok. And, furthermore, it’s very possible that some of your topics even have sub-topics – i.e. it may take more than one type of search to fully define an issue.
If you’ve already got a keyword list in your possession, don’t panic – it can start as a jumping-off point to your transition to monitoring topics. The illustration below shows a keyword list transformed into a topics list. You can also use our topic monitoring worksheet [Word document] as a resource to help you organize your thoughts. The sample here is filled in for a fictional client, to give you an idea of how you might use this worksheet.
A keyword list transformed into a Topic list
You’ll notice that in some cases, our topics are simple list of keywords. In other cases, the topics share the starting point of mentions of “recycling” and add additional qualifiers. This allows our results to filter naturally into specific sets of results. Within FPinfomart, each of these topics would translate to a Personal Profile.
Need help turning your keyword list into a topic list? Are your Personal Profiles to broad, or too narrow? Do you have several Profiles searching individual keywords that could be combined into topics? Our customer service team can help!