One of the first pieces of counsel I give to companies embarking on media relations, messaging or message mapping is to know your competitors. By conducting a regular competitive analysis you garner full understanding of the space in which your company plays. While before competitive analysis was a challenging exercise, the onset of social media and social networking has made this research easy and fun.
To know your competition, who’s the spokesperson, what they’re saying, and about what product/service they’re preaching is imperative. This knowledge helps create a defensible or offensive position to tell your story via traditional media relations as well as social media engagement.
“It’s time to rethink reputation management solutions. Ask yourself: How closely am I looking at my competition’s reputation? Identify companies you actively compete against as the first step. Commercial reputation management and monitoring solutions provide the deepest insight.”
The article goes on to say that tracking search terms produce the best information i.e. key words associated with your vertical. Once search terms yield a treasure of info, save them for constant monitoring via online reputation management tools.
What I mean by developing a competitive position relates directly to how informed you are about your entire industry sector. If there is a company with which you continually vie for market share, then learn everything you can about how they play and conduct business.
This knowledge translates directly to your boardroom chats about how to position your company to your peer group, customers, media, and other influencers. With the wealth of information now available online, you can build industry monitoring directly into tasks accomplished three times weekly.
I recommend some basic starting points to drive business intelligence (please add more to enrich these suggestions):
- Monitor Twitter for trending topics, company spokespeople, and what the Twitterverse is saying.
- Register yourself with Twellow and Listorious (with your own Twitter account) and regularly track others in your market there. Be sure to follow “people to watch” and get on lists to track the buzz.
- Set up Trackur or Radian6, a few online reputation monitoring tools, along with Google or Yahoo! alerts, too.
- Definitely monitor Facebook and YouTube for posted content as well as commentary associated to respective posts/videos within each social media channel.
- Blogs tracked via Technorati and RSS are a must to monitor. It’s easy enough to subscribe to a competitor’s blog to see what’s going on and how aggressive their messaging truly is (relating to your market).
Rather than get inundated with data you don’t know what do with, monitor other companies for about six weeks to garner a firm understanding of competitors’ messages. This time period is enough to showcase a decent perspective of the alleged market leader. It also provides the backbone you need to begin to develop your own offensive position.
With the aforementioned, your messaging framework is rooted in competitive intelligence, and it strengthens delivery of your company’s external information to the influencers you’re trying to reach. Your goal is not only to engage social media and create community, but to do it with aplomb! Hard-hitting, influential message delivery by designated spokespeople to traditional media and social media is how you get ahead of the curve and catch up to those already playing in your space.
- Incorporate learnings from your peer group into your own messages. Package messages that resonate with a sprinkling of key words to satisfy search marketing, and be confident in your own storytelling abilities.
- After you have a comfortable working message framework, package it into a message map. (Ask me if you’re unfamiliar with this necessary tool.)
- Develop content that tells your story, issue many online press releases to build link love, drive traffic to your social media and networking outlets and continually garner attention from consumers at large.
- Conduct traditional media relations with trade media in your market sector, and when a story appears be sure you feature that in all the respective places you publish content.
- Give it three-to-six months to earn traction, depending on your aggressiveness.
- Monitor your own company and the key words associated with your business. By doing so, you remain in an offensive position and can more expediently thwart attempts by the competition to gain the leading edge.
What have I missed? Please add your thoughts to the importance of competitive analysis for pretty much everything in which we engage, right?