Media Monitoring 3.0: How Situational Intelligence Helps Business Leaders Make Better Decisions

June 21, 2016


By Bill Coletti, CEO, Kith

Critical Takeaways

  • With the daily onslaught of social media posts and news articles, it can be challenging to distinguish smoke from fire on the issues that really matter
  • Media monitoring is vital, but current practices are limited in their ability to actually help leaders make better business decisions
  • Expert analysis is the key to effective Media Monitoring 3.0 — or Situational Intelligence– and can help businesses position and respond more effectively in critical moments

Maybe it’s a food safety concern, or perhaps it’s a GMO issue that’s heating up and sparking thousands of tweets and posts on Facebook. As a communications leader, how do you detect smoke from fire?

It’s not easy in today’s business environment when every day millions of news articles, broadcasts and social media posts are published that can impact your organization. In addition, more people than ever before have a voice, and their communications and interactions online are instantaneous and far-reaching. Their messages can be influential, whether they are accurate or misleading, and can also leave your organization vulnerable.


The Standard Practice: Media Monitoring

To manage the daily influx of news, most businesses have some type of media monitoring practice in place. Many of us over a certain age can remember when media intelligence 1.0 was a stack of actual newspaper clippings that would pile up on senior business leaders’ desks each day. Sometimes you measured the intensity of the day by the size of the stack. Then came the digitization of media monitoring with the debut of the Internet.

With media intelligence 2.0, digital daily digests of news highlights are delivered via e-mail. Thanks to Google news alerts, you don’t even need a human to curate this content anymore, for the most part. Today, media monitoring 2.0 is the standard practice for most organizations. The only problem is that on its own, media monitoring doesn’t do much to help the business.

The typical application of media monitoring goes something like this: The President or CEO will glance at the compilation of news clips every morning and think, “I hope someone is reading this stuff, and paying attention.” But nothing usually happens.

Communicators are focused on putting out any real-time fires and other leaders are focused on running the business. Without a mechanism in place to distinguish smoke from fire, organizations are left ill-prepared and vulnerable to the array of issues that can impact the business.


A real world example

Think back to 2015, when outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) required mass depopulation on countless U.S. poultry farms. While the issue initially received a small amount of coverage in traditional media outlets, the topic started to gain a steady amount of traction on social media, eventually reaching a tipping point. Most agri-business companies were caught flat-footed by the time the news and concern about HPAI blew up and responses to what steps they were taking were severely lacking.


Media Monitoring < Situational Intelligence

In our digital world of real-time, 24-7 consumer opinions, news and information, agri-business and other company leaders need more than media monitoring to stay ahead of the issues and be prepared. They need a process to analyze the news and information and uncover insights that will help them make smarter business decisions. We call this process Situational Intelligence.

Being able to synthesize the incoming information is important because the volume of news reporting and social media activity alone shouldn’t determine the issues that really matter to your business, or how you’ll respond. Analysis is the key to connecting the dots, and determining what action, if any, to take.

Like a stockbroker who makes buy, sell or hold recommendations about individual stocks in a portfolio, the Situational Intelligence analysts review and synthesize the information coming in and make act, monitor or backburner recommendations, accordingly. The team analyzing the information can be a combination of communications, government affairs or business team members in tune with industry and marketplace issues, though having one or two outside industry experts serving in this capacity can provide valuable insights and perspective for your business.


Getting Results

A major agribusiness corporation implemented a Situational Intelligence program as the subject of antibiotic use in livestock production, and its impact on red meat consumption, was heating up. After putting the program in place, it became increasingly clear that the conversations around the topic were calling for leadership to give a voice to the manufacturing side of the supply chain, not just the end-user side.

Using Situational Intelligence allowed the company time to determine the best course of action to take for itself and consumers, and when to take it. Consequently, the company announced a new policy on antibiotic use in livestock, which led to favorable media coverage in leading national newspapers as well as industry praise.


Being Prepared Pays Off

The ability to synthesize the flood of news and information that can impact a business and distinguish smoke from fire is incredibly important but many businesses do not have a system in place to make those distinctions. And media monitoring alone can’t do it.

Evolving media monitoring practices to create a situational intelligence program that provides analysis and recommendations on key issues can help your business get ahead of concerns and position in a way that’s best for your business and satisfies your customers. Knowing what’s around the corner not only gives your company time to position but also helps you prepare for critical moments before they occur. Not to mention, being better prepared and positioned helps your bottom line.

Filed under: Blog


Bill is a reputation management, crisis communications and professional development expert, keynote speaker, Wall Street Journal Risk & Compliance panelist, and best-selling author of Critical Moments: The New Mindset of Reputation Management. He has more than 25 years of global experience managing high-stakes crises, issues management, and media relations challenges for both Fortune 500 companies and winning global political campaigns.