Identifying the Top PR Media Monitoring Services, Tools & Software

Click here to go straight to the curated PR media monitoring tools list. Updated 10.14.2022

The media monitoring service and solutions market is crowded and always has been. I have worked for several PR agencies and used, deployed, and managed most media software applications. Many have been acquired, some went out of business, and a few legacy platforms are still around.

Two of the top media monitoring companies in the space are Cision and Meltwater. Both companies have invested significantly in their PR software and several acquisitions over the last ten years. One of the most significant acquisitions was when Cision acquired Brandwatch in 2019.

The media monitoring software space is ripe for innovation, and I am excited to see how this will impact the public relations industry in the future.

What is Media Monitoring and Analysis?

Media monitoring uses scraping technology and partnerships to gather, record, and analyze media mentions from online news, broadcast media, and print media. Most media monitoring tools are easy to use. You have to input keywords related to your business, brand, product, and executives, and the results are returned to you through various data visualizations.

PR monitoring can go beyond just tracking mentions of your brand. You can also expand your searches by analyzing larger topics and themes relevant to your industry.

PR monitoring aims to track, assess, and understand media exposure, brand health, and market perception, identify potential crises, and document negative and positive coverage. Media monitoring services can provide critical information about your brand’s public perception and earned media efforts.

Why is Media Monitoring Important?

There are many reasons why you should invest in media monitoring tools. Here are a few to consider:

  • Track Media Coverage: Track all your coverage, identify new media opportunities, and measure the effectiveness of your PR efforts
  • Media Activity Tracking: Create media lists, track which media outlets write about your company or industry, identify new media contacts, and manage PR campaigns.
  • Competitive Analysis: Keep track of competitive earned media mentions to understand where your competitors are getting coverage and the context of that coverage.
  • Responding to Crisis: Monitor mentions and online conversations when your brand is in crisis, including rapidly identifying threats and opportunities, sentiment analysis, reputation management, and real-time media monitoring.
  • Create Custom Reports: Build PR and media dashboards to track share of voice, brand reputation, message pull-through, and overall PR impact.

How Does Media Monitoring Services Work?

Media monitoring is not a complex concept to understand. However, most PR pros I know aren’t technically savvy, so there’s a learning curve for adopting new PR software. Also, many media monitoring tools I have used don’t have the greatest UI. It takes hours of practice and repetition before you feel comfortable using it.

Usually, keyword research is the first step in building a PR media monitoring strategy. This includes identifying all branded and unbranded keywords important to your business. Then, the keywords can be added directly to the media monitoring platform using some form of Boolean Logic.

Once the keywords are added, the next step is to identify the most appropriate news sources, including online news, broadcast, print, review sites, and in some cases, social media channels.

Once the keywords and news sources are added, most media monitoring platforms will start tracking media coverage across each channel.

Advanced Use Cases of Media Monitoring

Media monitoring is not necessarily the same thing as PR measurement. However, you can use the software for measuring your media monitoring strategy. Whichever media monitoring service you use, I recommend creating multiple dashboards to track your media coverage across different segments.

For example, if you have a top 25 media list, you can track all your media coverage and competitive coverage within just that list. This approach is more efficient since not all media outlets are created equal. By segmenting into dashboards, you can quickly see how well you stack up against your competitors within the media that matters.

You can also break down the media segments by the target audience, vertical, industry, media type, or tier. The point is to think strategically about what you want to know from your media monitoring strategy so that you can take action.

A media monitoring strategy should also include an analysis of the “context” of the coverage. This would uncover the hidden narratives from the media coverage. For example, assume that you want to know more about DevOps. You add the keywords and phrases into the media monitoring software but choose two different content sources.

In the first analysis, you choose all business and tech media publications. In the second analysis, you choose the top 25 media publications you designate as your tier-one media.

When analyzing the top tech and business tech outlets, the data shows that the core messages around DevOps are related to cloud migration, AIOps, and automation. However, the core messages are scale and security when you look at just the top 25 media pubs. These insights are critical to all media monitoring strategies. They can help you frame your messaging to align with the media’s writing.

Unfortunately, most media monitoring tools are limited in the type of analysis they provide. They can all report on the volume of coverage. They all integrate with third-party vendors like MOZ, SEMrush, and SimilarWeb. And they all have fancy graphs and pie charts to track share of voice.

But this is where the innovation stops. If I had a list of 100+ articles mentioning my brand, it would take me hours to read through each article and understand the context of that coverage. Imagine a brand like Netflix or Apple and all the coverage they get daily. It’s most likely in the thousands.

The biggest disconnect with media monitoring platforms today is that they don’t have text analysis capabilities. If I were to upload 15,000 articles into a text analysis platform, I’d be able to understand the core topics and themes driving media coverage of my business.

Newsjacking in the media isn’t a new thing. PR pros have been doing this for years, and it’s easy. Most PR monitoring and analysis platforms let you track the media in real-time and have built-in alerts that let you know when a certain topic is getting a lot of attention. Agile PR teams can craft pitches that align with those trends and secure media coverage based on the day’s news. This is newsjacking.

When you were looking to onboard a new PR or media monitoring agency, I would recommend that they have a process for real-time listening, newsjacking, and access to a news monitoring platform.

The Top Media Monitoring Tools & Software

Below is a curated list of media monitoring tools to review

Cision Communications Cloud is a platform for monitoring and analyzing earned media. The platform provides coverage analysis, influencer discovery, unlimited dashboards, real-time media monitoring, image monitoring and analysis, and social media listening. They have also integrated paid media analysis and tracking to show the impact on earned media campaigns and vice versa.

Cision combines advanced media intelligence, workflow tools, and a media contact database to make it easier for PR pros to manage their entire media monitoring services strategy from one platform.

An image of Cision media monitoring dashboard

Meltwater is a media monitoring company collecting news coverage and social media activity data across many platforms.

They use sophisticated algorithms to analyze news articles, blogs, websites, broadcast media, and other sources, offering current information on breaking news stories and emerging themes. In addition, Meltwater can track brand or company mentions over time, allowing users to discover important influencers within a certain sector or market group.

An image of Meltwater media dashboard

Muck Rack is a PR monitoring software tool that tracks online news media coverage, blogs, podcasts, and broadcast. They provide media coverage reports, dashboards, sentiment analysis, and article share data across social media platforms. They also have a built-in tool that tracks real-time, trending topics in online news media.

Muck Rack also offers a pitching platform that streamlines your media relations tasks by allowing you to manage your pitches, contacts, and relationships in one place.

An image of Muck Rack media analysis and reporting

Onclusive (formerly AirPR) is a cloud-based platform and business news media monitoring service with strong integration with Google Analytics.

One of the differentiators is that they provide insights into competitive performance against core media KPIs and social metrics like earned media coverage volume, brand mentions, share of voice, social media performance, share-of-social, brand reputation, and sentiment analysis. The integration with social media is a little stronger than the other media monitoring services.

An image of Onclusive's media monitoring and analysis.

Newswhip is one of the leading providers of news media analytics, providing real-time insights and predictive analytics on consumption and sharing activity across thousands of digital news sources. They have two products–Newswhip Spike and Newswhip Analytics.

Newswhip Spike is the best platform for real-time tracking for brands dealing with a crisis. Their highly accurate predictive analytics can help you track potential issues before they happen.

Newswhip Analytics is more for media monitoring and analysis. However, I would be careful to use it for media measurement. Their platform does not integrate broadcast and print media data, review sites, or social media channels. It only pulls in data from online news sites but only from article headlines and metadata. For example, if your brand is mentioned in the last paragraph of an article, Newswhip Analytics would not pick it up.

An image of Newswhip media monitoring and analysis.

Memo is a media monitoring service on the verge of proving the ROI for earned media programs. They have partnerships with several news and media outlets like the NY Times, Fortune, BuzzFeed, Meredith, New York Magazine, and PopSugar and provide web analytics at the article level.

Memo helps PR pros remove the guesswork of an earned media value metric and provides total page views, unique visitors, web referrals, and other impactful data directly from news sources.

An image of Memo PR and Media dashboard

Critical Mention is a media monitoring tool that provides real-time access to broadcast media, online news, and user-generated content from social media. The platform offers features that allow you to track, monitor, and analyze brand and media mentions across the full digital ecosystem.

The platform offers a comprehensive range of dashboards and reports that allows you to see how your brand or media is performing. You can also set up alerts to notify you of any new mentions of your brand or keywords.

An image of Critical Mention's news media analysis dashboard

Signal AI is a media analysis tool that allows you to quickly and easily sift through vast text-based content and articles.

The tool uses advanced machine-learning algorithms to analyze and interpret the data, providing actionable insights and trends. The tool can be used for various purposes, such as monitoring media coverage and sentiment of your company or brand or identifying key trends in an industry. They can also translate foreign-language articles into English extremely fast and accurately.

An image of Signal AI and their media dashboard.

Propel PR is a cloud-based platform and PR software with a built-in CRM to track journalists and reporters. They can monitor pitch email open rates based on specific topics and media. Imagine knowing what subject lines are more likely to be opened by the target journalists. Wow. This is their biggest differentiator from the other platforms.

Their philosophy is to build native apps that integrate into the PR team’s workflow, a massive plus in my book. They also have the general media monitoring and analysis of online news, sentiment analysis, and solid integration with Google Analytics.

An image or Propel PR media monitoring services.

Podseeker is a podcast analysis, database, and media intelligence platform. It helps you find and compare the most popular podcasts in your industry, making informed decisions about where to allocate your resources.

Podseeker provides download counts, show notes, and contact information for each podcast and an aggregated view of all the podcasts in your industry. This lets you quickly see which shows are most popular, what topics are being discussed, and identify the key influencers.

An image of Podseeker, a podcast analysis platform

The Notified PR Platform is an integrated platform that can help you analyze all areas of your marketing and communications programs and campaigns.

The platform offers social listening, media monitoring, a media contacts database, press release distribution, newsroom publishing, and PR measurement, all integrated within one user interface.

An image of Notified PR media tools

For the most part, most PR monitoring tools are the same.

Of course, they wouldn’t tell you that. There are a few differentiators with each platform, but none that I haven’t already mentioned. Please contact me if you want to discuss this in more detail. You can reach me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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Michael Brito

Michael Brito is a Digital OG. He’s been building brands online since Al Gore invented the Internet. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.