Understanding Media Audits

Is your changemaking organization interested in securing a regular stream of high-quality media coverage? If so, thinking up a creative pitch that positions your work as newsworthy is not the first step, nor is building a list of reporters to reach out to. Before you even consider your angles, you need to conduct a thorough media audit to determine your opportunity relative to your competitors. Today, I’d like to break the process down for you.

What is a media audit?

If you’ve never worked with a strategic communications firm, public relations manager or publicist before, some of the terms we use may be unfamiliar to you. Do you know what a media audit is and why it’s an important part of securing top-notch coverage?

A media audit is a research tool used to determine where and how your organization has been covered before, as well as where and how your competitors and topics of expertise are being discussed by the media. When done well, a media audit will uncover specific areas where you have an opportunity to “own the conversation” and be seen as a thought leader from a media perspective.

What does a media audit focus on?

If your organization has received any media coverage in the past, no matter how minor, a media audit will analyze that coverage. When auditing past features, it’s important to assess what aspects of your organization resonated most with journalists, producers, bloggers and editors. The audit will also analyze what pieces have been most shared or buzzed about, and will assess how well past coverage communicated your organization’s intended key messages. Armed with this information, it’s possible to identify the parts of your public relations strategy that should be adjusted to maximize the quantity and quality of your media hits.

Equally important is an assessment of your competitors and the news or trending topics in your field and market. A high-quality media audit pulls your competitors’ media coverage to get a sense of the narratives that gain interest in your field. It also reveals which reporters, publications and websites and are active in your market, and cover topics of interest to your audience. Finally, it gives you a sense of areas of the conversation that your competitors are effectively owning, and areas where your organization has an opportunity to become a leading expert.

What outcomes should I expect from a media audit?

A comprehensive media audit is the foundation for a focused media relations strategy. Armed with information about how your organization, your competitors and your field are being covered, you can determine a set of highly focused topics about which your organization can become known as an expert.

From there, you’ll be able to define specific media pitches that set your organization up for thought leadership in those key topical areas of focus. You’ll also be well-positioned to build a targeted list of media contacts for each individual pitch.

Knowledge of a journalists’ prior work and interests helps foster connections and makes it easier to tailor pitches to individual reporters and producers, so use what you learn in the media audit about the focus of a reporter’s work to your advantage. Members of the media, whether broadcast producers, magazine journalists, bloggers or anyone else, are more likely to take interest in your story when it is clear you’ve made an effort to read, view or listen to their past work, and approached them with something that’s a good fit. It can be a win-win situation when you pitch the right reporters — you get coverage that reaches your ideal audience, and they get a story that their audience will find interesting. The piece is more likely to be shared by engaged readers, viewers or listeners. If your outreach is not a good match, however, neither your business nor the reporter will gain anything from the opportunity.

That’s why a media audit is such a useful tool: it helps you identify your unique opportunity to own specific topics from a media perspective, and matches your organization to the outlets and reporters who are most likely to align with the audience you seek.  The end result? Stronger and more frequent media coverage that advances your organization’s goals.

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Ready to start your improved outreach strategy? Take a look at our post on the do’s and don’ts of pitching.

About
Alyssa is the President and Co-Founder of Prosper Strategies, and is obsessed with helping impactful organizations achieve their goals through marketing.
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