Competition is a fact of life in business and in PR. Other brands aren’t just trying to lure buyers away from you, they are trying to beat you in terms of earned media and social attention as well. This doesn’t have to be all bad. If you pay close attention, your competitors have a lot of useful information to share.
Which Media Outlets and Writers Are Covering Your Space?
If you monitor the mentions of your competitors very carefully, you may find that they are getting earned media in places and from people that you didn’t expect. Perhaps a journalist who didn’t show any interest before is now writing about your industry, or maybe a new publication has been posted online. Knowing where your competitors are is an important part of knowing where you want to be.
What Are Your Competitor’s Key Themes that Are Getting Traction?
What a competitor has to say about themselves on their own website and in their own advertising is somewhat interesting, but which messages the press picks up is even more enlightening. Are there themes that seem to be working well for your competitors? What is your messaging around them and how might you leverage this intelligence to bring your brand into the conversation?
What is Working on Social Media?
You know how well different assets and content types perform with your audience on social media, but what about those of your competitors? They may have found a good audience/channel/content type match that you can replicate.
Where Do They Hang Out?
You don’t have to attend an event just because your competitors do, but a look at their calendar might reveal some opportunities to schmooze or speak that you have overlooked. Even if you don’t exhibit or actively participate, you may be able to get a hold of the media list and set up some briefings with the reporters who are there.
What Aren’t They Talking About?
In most cases, our competitors have products or services that are fairly similar to ours. That’s why they are competitors. But careful monitoring of your competitor’s owned and earned media may reveal gaps between your offering. What they aren’t talking about often tells you more than what they are.
What are their PR Strengths and Weaknesses?
It’s tough to admit that your competitor is doing something really well, but it’s far better than keeping your head in the sand. If they are really great at getting engagement from influencers on Twitter, for example, don’t ignore it. Learn from it. On the other hand, if they aren’t great at reputation management and have shabby reviews, exploit that fact and showcase how you outshine them.
You really can learn a lot for your competitors if you listen well. As Richard Branson said, “Strike the right balance between respecting your rivals and focusing on how you can beat them, and you’ll have a winning formula.”
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