I bet most of you could easily make a list of the many ways that the practice of PR has been changed by the rise of the digital age. Audiences are more fractured than ever before, social media has made them more connected to peers, and PR organizations are more highly involved in content development and reputation management. The list goes on. If you were making the list, you might also add that media monitoring has become both more complex and more important. The sheer number of channels that might contain a brand mention has exploded, making media monitoring software essential. But is it enough? To understand the limits of media monitoring and the solutions that support it, it is necessary to talk about the differences between data, information and knowledge.
Data is unprocessed facts and figures without any added interpretation or analysis. The length of your foot, for example, is a bit of data. The fact that your brand was mentioned in an online article is also a bit of data. Most free media monitoring tools, Google Alerts, for example, provide data and nothing more. You become aware of the mention, so you know what happened, but without context that lone fact has very little meaning.
Information is data that has been interpreted so that it has meaning for the user. In other words, information is data in context. A graph of the length of your foot that shows it is 2 inches bigger than last week, is information. When it comes to PR, the details of a mention, including reach, sentiment and share of voice, comprise information about the mention. Some traditional media monitoring solutions, such as Vocus and Meltwater News provide this type of information.
Knowledge is a combination of information, experience and insight that may benefit the individual or the organization. The fact that, because your foot has outgrown your current size, you need new shoes is knowledge. Knowledge is actionable. Knowledge requires analysis of both the data and the surrounding context. When you have knowledge, you know not just what has happened, but what to do about it. This is why media monitoring is simply not sufficient for today’s PR challenges. Sophisticated analytics and reporting are necessary to develop and communicate knowledge. When knowledge is achieved, reaching agreement on decisions is easy.
If you are using a media monitoring solution that provides only data or information, consider how much more efficient and effective you could be with a solution that deliverers knowledge. We’d love to give you a look at how TrendKite takes clients beyond media monitoring and delivers knowledge that drives action.