The rise of the Internet has made it possible to spread information faster than ever before in human history. If you work for a government institution, you also know that this has enabled people to instantly share political opinions. 

In fact, politics is one of the most frequently discussed topics online. You also know that it is starting to become a problem to track many topics and issues citizens and the media are raising. 

The citizens only get a part of the picture. They visit websites of their choice or learn new information from their social media feeds. There’s an 8% increase in the number of U.S. adults who get their news from social media “often” or “sometimes” and a 20% increase of those who do so “often”, in comparison to last year’s results. Meaning that 55% of U.S. adults get their news from social media “often” or “sometimes” and 28% of them “often”, according to a survey by Pew Research Center.

But, not all believe what they read online. For example, the majority (57%) of all U.S. Twitter users think that most news they see on social media is “largely inaccurate”. That’s why Twitter has been very careful lately with what kind of tweets they are going to let politicians post, which ultimately resulted in flagging Donald Trump’s tweet for “glorifying violence” a few days ago.

So, as a politician, before you post, make sure that what you’re posting is true and in accordance with the platform’s rules. Otherwise it could harm your credibility and political image.

Another thing you should know if you work in politics is not to presume that the websites and social media posts you are seeing in your feed are representative of what others are seeing. Social media websites such as Facebook are more likely to show users topics similar to those they liked before. Which means that if you’re seeing positive shares about what your institution is doing, it doesn’t mean that others aren’t seeing negative, or even outright fake news

The part of the job of a public official is to be informed about certain topics so you can plan your strategy for the future. In order to get the full picture of what citizens and the media are saying online, it is not only good practice, but absolutely mandatory that you use a media monitoring tool. It can help you recognise issues important to citizens, work proactively to resolve a communication crisis, and build your reputation in the community. 

Which political institutions should be using media monitoring?

  • Office of the Mayor/President/Prime Minister
  • Political Parties
  • Government offices (health care, foreign relations, sport etc.)

Discovering what your institution needs to track

There are several essential keywords you need to track:

  • Name of the institution (the name of the city, government, institute)
  • Name of the person who’s in charge (mayor, prime minister, director)
  • Other officials likely to appear in the media (heads of departments, vice-presidents)
  • Laws, regulations, and decisions (eg. the Pension Act or the Tax Regulation)
  • Local departments and offices

Filtering your query to get the best results

One of the benefits of using media monitoring is that you can easily narrow down your search to get only the relevant results. Let’s say we want to know every information about Donald Trump but only when he is mentioned in the context of his presidency, and not his hotels, restaurants and other businesses. You can simply exclude mentions like “The Trump Tower” from appearing in results.

The importance of getting results on the go via mobile app  

A key official such as the Prime Minister or a Mayor needs to wear many hats and respond to many questions during the day. He or she may in the course of a single day open an institution, meet with citizens, give a press statement, visit partner cities, approve projects and hold meetings.

He or she is always on the move. The team in the office is handling a number of requests, but a major and his team should be ready to respond to a hot topic regardless of whether they are in the office or not. 

The newest mentions are easy to check on the mobile phone. It’s not necessary to exchange calls or emails between the PR team and the official about the information going on – they can now spend this time on something much more important. 

Political parties can get mentions about their party, party leader, important country/political topics, competitors etc.

Since there are many people in the party who need different type of information, there is a simple solution to this. Each person can get only the information that is important to them and they can receive it on their e-mail whenever they want it – in real time; once a day, once a week or custom.

However, media monitoring is not just getting the information in the right time – it’s much more than that!

With media monitoring tool you can analyse mentions for each topic you monitor over time. You can see:

  • The most mentioned topic over time
  • Growth of mentions over months
  • The most shared articles on social media
  • The articles with the biggest reach
  • Influencers and sources frequently writing about topics
  • Sentiment of each topic
  • Comparison to other queries

You can use this information to plan your future activities such as publishing PR statements or organising interviews on websites where people read the most about those topics. After that you can monitor the topic over days so that you know what kind of impact you achieved with your activities.

Sentiment analysis and comparison

Although it’s important how often the news you’re interested in is read, it’s even more important to assess whether the context in which your institution appears is positive, negative or neutral.

For example: We are monitoring president/mayor name and for each article/mention.

POSITIVE: The major opened a new school. 50 new jobs for the local community.

NEGATIVE: The major hasn’t responded to questions about constant traffic jams

NEUTRAL: The major attended a play at the local theatre (just mentioned in the context)

After the user has determined sentiment for several articles/topics he or she will get sentiment analysis which will then show if the majority of mentions were positive, negative and neutral.

Here’s an example of what the sentiment analysis for “Angela Merkel” looks like:

There is also a possibility to compare two topics such as mentions of the ruling party and the opposition to see which one stands better in the media.

For instance, here’s what the number of mentions per sentiment between the USA’s Republican and Democratic party look like:

At the end it would be good to have all the mentions saved as reference to what has been done. With a media monitoring tool like Mediatoolkit, it can be done easily in a few steps. All the links or statistical data can be sent to you or downloaded in whichever format you like be it via e-mail, as an Excel file, as a PDF file or as a Word file.

Online media monitoring tools are here to save you time, give you the right information when you need and help you plan future activities so that you and your team can focus on important things.

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