Mass Media Monitoring as a Means of Information Stream Management
By Aigerim Baizhumanova, especially for Kazakhstan International Business Magazine
Most analysts consider not only activities conducted by companies or other institutions, but also the life of the human being to be a single information stream in which a continuous information interchange can be observed. In fact, everything we do is aimed at creating, seeking, processing or storing information. It's no wonder that one of the most famous aphorisms on this topic is "He who possesses the information, possesses the world". Therefore, those who want to keep abreast of the times set a high value on information. This is the case for business leaders, who must always obtain the information necessary to understand market trends and additional data on their competitors, which, in turn, may help their companies to become world leaders.
Today, in the epoch of integrated marketing communications, a marketing expert, a brand manager or a financier can be considered prosperous if he/she has built a perfect information exchange system, and a company's leader is a person who considers information "the circulatory system" of the company. However, a large volume of information can have negative aspects as well. The information stream is strong and steady, and can absorb almost all the time allocated for accomplishing designated tasks, if there is not a good management system. Sociologists state that people spend up to 30% of their working time receiving, systematising and processing information. What is the solution? How can we manage information streams properly and direct them towards attaining specific business goals?
Mass media monitoring, one of the main services provided by agencies specialising in the information supply and processing market, can provide an answer. Certainly, companies could employ in-house experts to accumulate, process and analyse information. But in practice, it is too difficult and expensive to cope with such issues internally.
Mass media monitoring is not just processing received information; first of all, it is a means of information analysis. Any company, utilising a mass media review, can develop its campaigns, strategic programmes and take such steps as may be necessary to expedite its activities on the market. A mass media review can assist a company in tracking activities conducted by its competitors. Moreover, by familiarising itself with such reviews on a regular basis, a company can develop a proper information policy and launch prospective communication programmes. Based on a mass media review, a company can assess PR and advertising campaigns to date, making quantitative, qualitative and time analysis of references to the company in the mass media, and tracking the tone of information about the company presented in the mass media. It is very important to identify the opinion target groups hold about your company, and to understand the company's image in society.
How is mass media monitoring conducted? According to Ms. Symbat Kadyr, Marketing and Sales Director of MediaSystem (the agency holding 85% of the Kazakhstani mass media monitoring market), mass media are monitored by a group of experts, having special equipment and software with which it is possible to accumulate and process information. The basic principles of monitoring are: tracking information to the maximum extent possible; continuously searching sources and database extensions; structuring information efficiently, based on its topics and descriptors; providing comprehensive information; preparing a convenient form for review presentation; and prompt processing and presentation of available data.
Databases are created on the basis of the monitoring materials. These databases are necessary for further use of information, mainly for analytical information processing, based on which mass media reviews and content analyses can be made. The content analysis is a quantitative analysis of references to a company and the tone in which this information is presented in mass media (negative, positive or neutral).
Monitoring agencies usually provide their customers with two types of reviews: a digest and a monitoring of all materials on the specified subject. What is the difference between the two? The digest is a brief review of materials presented by the mass media. It is designated for those who are pressed for time to read newspapers or watch TV, but are eager to be aware of current events in the country and abroad. The TV News Digest, issued by MediaSystem, best illustrates such services. The agency provides a brief interpretation of all news broadcasted by the national TV channels. Monitoring, on the other hand, is a selection of the maximum possible quantity of materials on the subject, released during a particular period and then compiled from primary sources. For the most part, monitoring is presented in the form of industrial surveys: banking, oil and gas, transport and communications, tobacco industry, insurance, etc.
What if a customer is in need of an exclusive review? For instance, what if it intends to approach the market with a new product and is in need of information about its competitors? Or the customer wants to assess an advertising campaign conducted six months ago? In this case, monitoring agencies can take an exclusive order, which will be executed using the aforementioned databases.
'We monitor over 250 Kazakhstani mass media outlets, including all TV news broadcasts. Television programmes are recorded and included in the mass media databases. At any time, we can find the necessary information and, upon the customer's request, prepare a review. It should be noted that such a review can cover any period since 1998, the year our agency was established. Upon a customer's request, we can also provide an analytical treatment of extracted data and materials – a service we often render,' says Ms. Kadyr.
'We offer over one-hundred products and services, which we think of as instrumental. The fundamental principal of our agency is to be conscious of our customers' time, providing them with information in the most convenient way. That is why we pay close attention to the structure, comprehensiveness and adequacy of our reviews. Yet our agency became the market leader not only by following these principles, but also due to our customer-oriented service. We have always been ready to satisfy our customers' demands and most of our products and services were generated due to such interaction. Actually, a customer defines the product, its structure and content, whereas the agency consults on and develops the product.’
Closely co-operating with our customers, we have developed solutions for CEOs, as well as a company’s marketing, PR, business development and other departments. Take, for instance, All Tenders. It is one of the most popular products used not only for bidding, but also as a reliable source of information on customers, partners, and competition. The review Analysis of a Company’s Coverage by the Media designed for PR departments may be interesting for top management, too.
MediaSystem’s approach has been worthwhile: presently around 700 companies operating in various Kazakhstani economic sectors are using its reviews. The number keeps growing, for the customers believe mass media monitoring to be crucial for successful business and view the agency as a reliable partner that can be trusted with information management.
As a conclusion, I would like to cite an excerpt from TheAutumnVisits,a novel by the sci-fi writer Sergei Lukyanenko: ‘…Today, information is more powerful than tanks. It ousts presidents and makes people vote. Information forms dreams and focuses goals… Information is simply arms. Everyone can take it in hand and make it serve their interests…’ Graph 1, Graph 2
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