By Sean Dowdall, LCI
A competitive media analysis is a valuable research activity and tool that serves as a foundational element at the beginning of a new client relationship. Why? This 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 develop or refine your public relations ROI reporting.
One tip before getting to the steps: assign more than one person to do the research. Likely, one person will be the key draftsperson, and there will be one, two or more reviewers. Having at least one of those reviewers skim the source material and data not only helps create a higher-quality analysis but also adds to the team’s deeper understanding of the client, competitors and communication opportunities.
Below are the steps to writing a competitive media analysis. While they are in sequence, you will likely want to go back to previous steps as you discover new insights.
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.
2. 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.
3. 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. As you get further in the research process, see if what’s online is making it into articles.
4. Media Scans:
Scan the recent coverage that your client’s competitors have received. You’ll want to assess whether or not they have a strong media presence. You’ll also want to start compiling a list of reporters that are covering the competition. They should be on your media list to pitch when your client has news.
5. Social Media Review:
Finally, the last step is to review the competition’s social media channels. Make sure to not only check how many followers they have on each channel but also to take a look at what kind of content they are posting on each channel. Is the content the same across all channels? Is it different? What topics do they focus on in their posts? All of these questions should be answered.
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. As mentioned above, the competitive analysis serves as a foundational tool – make sure you build that foundation well.
Do you agree? Feel free to comment below or tweet Sean at @seandowdall.
How to Do a Competitive Analysis, Business News Daily