How to Write a Competitive Media Analysis

In life, it’s usually not a great idea to compare yourself to others…but in communications? Invaluable…

A competitive media analysis helps your agency’s team and your clients understand, compare and leverage competitors’ messaging and communications tactics. It is valuable input for drafting your clients’ key messages and developing an effective public relations plan. The analysis may also help you

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develop or refine your public relations ROI reporting.

But how and where to start? Here are some tips to get you on your way:

  1. Identify the Competitors:

Obviously, ask your client who their competitors are and, more importantly, which ones they care about most. These could be competitors that your client thinks to have effective communications programs or not so much. Also, add one or two non-direct competitors if you believe their communications programs provide usable insights.

  1. Press Release Review:

Cut and paste boilerplates into the analysis report. Being familiar with competitors’ “about us” statements to the media can help as the research progresses. Boilerplates can set the tone of voice and claims competitors make. See how those pull through across communications and if the media picks them up. Look for the press release topics, including the types of and the quality of news. Consider the newsworthiness of competitors’ official news and how that yields media coverage and social media engagement.

  1. Website Review:

Review and record mission, vision and value statements. Check if the websites are content-rich and if the messaging is well-developed. The media almost always looks to websites to do research. Does this company make it easy for them with data, images, opinion, contacts, content? As you get further in the research process, see if what’s online is making it into articles.

  1. Media Scans:

Scan the recent coverage that your client’s competitors have received to gauge media presence. Compile a list of reporters that are covering the competition and include them on your media list to pitch when your client has news.

  1. Social Media Review:

Review the competition’s social media channels. Take a look at posts, formats, followers and engagement. Is the content the same across all channels? Is it different? What topics do they focus on in their posts?

One final tip – assign more than one person to do the research so that messaging is viewed critically. Ultimately, the more thorough you are with your competitive analysis, the more it will help you understand your client’s challenges and opportunities, find relevant topics in your client’s industry and collect names of reporters you’ll eventually want to pitch.


4 thoughts on “How to Write a Competitive Media Analysis

  1. Sean, great insights. Writing key messages before you’ve done your competitive research can be fruitless. Looking closely at the competition helps you gain greater knowledge and helps not only craft effective messaging but assists the client to understand their business better, too.

  2. Social media research is where you’ll find that anecdotal insight too…is the conversation one-way or two? Is engagement high? Who is your biggest fan? Great tips, thanks.

  3. This is super helpful, Sean. You’re right: A competitive analysis is a critical tool for identifying where your differentiating messages and positioning need to land. An important first step for any PR firm engagement – or in-house team audit. I think it’s also important to do this on a recurring basis (annual or biannual), as the business and media environment shift.

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