How to Track Policy Issues in the Media
Today’s modern communications teams are responsible for protecting more than a company’s reputation, they are tasked with communicating their brand position on key issues, influencing target audiences, and even working with the public affairs department to track policy issues and lobby for its interests. To do the job well, professionals need a method of understanding the media landscape and gauging whether key corporate messages around legislative issues are pulling through.
Yet, many busy communicators find issue tracking to be such a daunting task that it is a nonstarter. This is because it is difficult to fully track complex, policy issues that are not summarized by a simple keyword search like: online data security, online content responsibility or immigration reform. Media monitoring tools simply can’t handle such complex topics.
Breakdown the Issues and Find Coverage with Human-Assisted AI Topic Analysis
The key to understanding highly complex coverage is to break it down into topics and subtopics that matter to your business and your stakeholders. For instance, if you work for a major bank and want to track the topic of Regulation, begin by breaking it down into subtopics like:
- Access to capital
- Suspicious activity reporting
- Trump administration regulatory reform
- Compliance reporting
- Financial crimes
Public affairs and public relations teams need to harness human-assisted AI to quickly cull through the slew of media content collected and focus on the coverage that matters to their key stakeholders.
Once they do that, they can start analyzing coverage against subtopics to see which are getting the most positive and negative coverage. Determining the frequency of earned coverage, its tonality, the amount of social sharing this coverage receives, and on which social channels, helps pinpoint where you need to focus your efforts. When done right, it will also show you what to do next. For instance, if one or more of your key messages around certain topics are very successful but others are lagging, you could reallocate resources and budget to others that need more attention.
Find Media and Third-Party Influencers to Target
By analyzing media intelligence over time, you will start understanding key figures in your industry like authors, outlets, and third-party influencers. Topical media analysis will make your team more effective and efficient at reaching the right authors to amplify your message. This is where you answer questions like, “who is writing negative articles about banks needing more compliance regulation and are also gaining traction on social media?” or “are there new authors covering the importance of growing rural access to capital?”
These answers will not only help your team keep an accurate pulse on policy issues but inform communications strategy around media relations. Use insights to tailor a media outreach strategy that gets results.
When companies can hyper focus on the coverage that matters most, they can also zoom in on identifying powerful third-party influencers. Third-party influencers such as political organizations, regulatory groups, industry experts and NGO’s have significant clout in their fields and gathering data on the way they shape media coverage is a growing trend for communications professionals.
Through analysis of the significant third-party influencers hidden in the context of their coverage, companies can restructure their key messaging to better address concerns of third-party groups and/or further ally themselves with those who have similar views.
Move the Needle on Policy Goals
Tracking policy issues over time and whether your key corporate messages around these topics are resonating with third-party and media influencers allows you to demonstrate to your executives that your team is moving the needle on key legislative goals. This way, your team can show that it is helping shape policy favorable for your company and all its stakeholders. Helping to ultimately prevent or pass legislation that affects your organization by influencing public opinion is just one way communicators can have a direct impact on the bottom line.
About the Author: Madeline McCabe is a PublicRelay Senior Media and Operations Analyst. Madeline holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.