Monitoring: B2B prepared

Georgina Parsons, head of communications at Visibrain, discusses how to get started on a strong media monitoring strategy

Ignoring negative sentiment online can be a huge mistake for any brand, but not having a good and thorough plan to address any issues that arise is often equally disastrous.

This is why a strong media monitoring plan is the key to success when building and maintaining the reputation of your B2B brand. But how do you get started on your first media monitoring strategy? Here are four initial steps that you can take as a business to get started.

1. Know your brand and build a team

Firstly, you need to understand the history of your brand. Build up the base knowledge and pick the right person for the task of monitoring. Assign someone qualified but also someone who knows the brand and its PR history. Monitoring is not a job to be passed over to an intern. The task requires skills, experience and a mind that can see the bigger picture. Being able to identify the start of a problem before it snowballs out of control is something that can’t be taught. It’s a sense of intuition that comes with knowing a brand and being in tune with customers and the business alike.

2. Pick the right tools

While selecting the right team is a vital part of this process, if that team is not equipped with the correct tools, they will be unlikely to recognise a B2B PR crisis until it’s too late.  Selecting tools for social listening, media monitoring and crisis response are all important steps in this planning process.

Given the massive amounts of information that come from social media and the online world every day, attempting to monitor a brand’s presence online can be far too much for one person to manage by hand. Every day, over 2 million blog posts are published online, along with over 500 million tweets, 10 million videos and more than 50 million photographs. Without the correct tools, sifting through this information on a daily basis can be a mammoth task, particularly for large B2B brands which may not be dealing with traditional consumers.

3. Start listening

For smaller brands, the best advice is to start by experimenting with free tools such as Google Alerts and Social Mention; these will allow marketing teams to build a basic understanding and start to discover what features they need and what they feel like they’re missing.

For larger organisations with a more complex B2B offering, marketers can begin to research possible paid tools that will enable them to segment the discussion around their brands. By using these tools to delve deeper into the discussion, B2B brands can better understand the audiences that really matter to them, beneath the standard consumer chatter on most social media.

4. Plan ahead

In addition to monitoring, brands must also plan for what happens if there were to be a crisis. Your monitoring may be thorough and inclusive, but make sure you and your team know what to do if you spot a problem. Make sure to brief your entire team on how to respond to a PR crisis, including the creation of pre-written materials and responses that are ready to go in any situation.

Most importantly, always remember that the worst thing to do is nothing. Whether it’s a B2B disaster such as the BP oil spill or a consumer case such as Byron Burgers’ recent immigration scandal, all major PR crises are made worse by the length of time it takes companies to respond. Silence speaks louder than words, so make sure you’re ready to put your plan into action the second a crisis strikes.

Maintaining a good reputation comes with maintaining a good reaction plan. Being prepared is key to ensuring the stability and ethical standpoint of a brand.