What is media analysis?

Media analysis involves critically assessing the media coverage received by a brand — looking at who said what, about what, in which way – and when and where it was said.

This kind of insight is incredibly valuable, as it can help you work out why certain things were said, what the impact is likely to be, as well as how best to respond.

Quality media analysis takes the entire media landscape into account, including editorial media, including print, broadcast and online editorial content, as well as social media sources like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. 

What types of media analysis are there?

Media analysis essentially falls into two categories: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative analysis is essentially based on statistics, while qualitative analysis draws on narratives. 

Let’s break those down a little more:

Understanding qualitative media analysis

Quantitative analysis involves the collection of media ‘mentions’ through the process of media monitoring, and adding certain statistics to these mentions. 

These figures can include:
  • the ‘clip count’ (total number of mentions for an entity or topic)
  • circulation (the number of copies distributed for each publication)
  • media segmentation (a breakdown of media sources)
  • ‘share of voice’ (how often an entity or topic is mentioned relative to its competitors)
Quantitative analysis is a popular method because statistics are relatively easy to obtain, quick to compare and they show figures for key performance metrics. 

If you use favourability or automated sentiment analysis, which tells you whether your coverage was positive, negative or neutral, then it is very easy to see whether the media sentiment towards your brand has improved or regressed simply by reviewing the statistics.

However, quantitative analysis does come with some drawbacks, as statistics on their own cannot account for omissions, misstatements, or nuances, among other things. Thus, statistics alone cannot give you the ‘full picture’. 

Numbers and graphs cannot always provide you with meaningful context (or meaning in a context), nor can they fully capture the impact on audiences. This is because there is not always a straightforward, clearcut link between data and social perception. 

Being mentioned 1 000 times per week might mean your messages are gaining media traction, but you won’t necessarily know how those messages are being portrayed or whether those messages are actually influencing the public. This is where qualitative analysis becomes valuable.

Understanding qualitative media analysis

Qualitative media analysis involves the examination of the relationship between a text or speech and its likely audience. This kind of analysis puts value on the interpretation of the media clip and aims to understand them in context.

Because qualitative analysis is concerned with the interpretation of text, it pays special attention to target audiences, media sources, and other contextual factors. This helps to determine the most likely meaning, on top of being able to provide a more insightful idea of social impact than simple statistics are able to give. All this is laid out in narrative form.

However, since narrative analysis is done by an analyst, and is not based on statistical results, how do you know whether an interpretation or finding is correct? Can an analyst, whose role it is to interpret the text, ever be truly objective?

The solution is ‘intersubjectivity’. Essentially, what this means is that there is a consensus among various analysts on a given topic or interpretation. If several people agree on a particular way of understanding certain media content, then that understanding has much greater credibility. 

Although not foolproof, with the right checks and balances in place, this system of intersubjectivity can avoid the vast majority of errors and misinterpretations.

How can media analysis benefit your business?

Media analysis offers a variety of benefits, including:

Assessing your communications output

One of the key roles of media analysis is to evaluate the effectiveness of your media relations strategies. In particular, media analysis gives you key insights into your PR output (i.e., you learn what gets published/shared by the media), enabling you to see whether your strategies are working or not. This is especially useful, as it can inform a new and improved communications blueprint.

Targeting media with key messaging

Knowing more about the demographics of the media audience receiving your content can help focus your strategies. And with key statistics about who is giving you lengthy or favourable coverage, you can also maximise your media exposure by engaging with selected journalists, media sources, etc. By knowing who is creating content about your brand, you can develop strategic relationships and convert unfavourable mentions into favourable ones.

Receiving strategic insights into issues affecting your brand

Since the media not only reflects public opinion but also influences it, knowing how the media portray issues relating to your brand is imperative for understanding and shaping the public perception of your brand. With the information provided by various media analysis solutions, you can predict the likely effects of media content on the public. This, in turn, can help you to develop strategies to maximise your positive coverage and minimise your negative coverage.

Gaining reputation insights

Media analysis can help you with managing your brand image. You can stay up to date with reputation insights by identifying favourable or unfavourable messages that are gaining media traction, or by tracking reputation ‘drivers’ and influences. This can help you to optimise your communications strategies, whether by fine-tuning or overhauling them in response to an ever-changing world.

Getting competitor analysis

Good media analysis can give you a competitive advantage. With the ability to identify your competitors’ activities, messaging, and positioning on key issues, you can receive an excellent overview of their communications strategies and the public perception of their brand. 

Obtaining trend analysis

Trend analysis involves looking at various topics, trends, and movements in the media. Subjects are assessed through different parameters — e.g., volume or tone — which give you valuable information about issues you are interested in, whether they are client- or industry-related, or even if they illuminate an area highlighted for a new business venture. 

Tracking events, campaigns, and initiatives

What did the media say about your event? How was your campaign covered in the media? Who shared information about your launch? The easiest way to stay on top of media coverage concerning your organisational output is through media analysis. This gives you insights into your coverage so that you have the opportunity to maximise your mentions by timing press releases better and avoiding negative sentiment in the future.

Following crises

Media analysis is an extremely useful tool for seeing how a negative issue unfolds in the media. As everyone knows, a major crisis can cause serious harm to your brand’s reputation. Media analysis is crucial, because it allows you to respond rapidly and ensure effective crisis management by pinpointing key problem areas.

For more information, visit www.focalpoints.co.za. You can also follow Focal Points on Facebook, Twitter or on LinkedIn.