I don’t know about you, but I live in fear of something that I never imagined when I dreamed about working in library marketing.

My library is getting press coverage. I know it is. But am I seeing every article, TV segment, and radio interview? Are we getting credit for all the hard work we put into PR and media outreach? What if we’re missing something?

You can’t watch all the newscasts, listen to the radio 24-7, and read all the newspapers, magazines, online columns, and blogs. It’s just not possible. You probably ARE missing something.

That’s why many libraries pay specialized companies to monitor the media for them. Here are some of the best, from my research and from my own experience.

I’ve divided them into two groups: companies that list their prices on their websites and companies that makes you give them contact info in order to get a price quote (does anyone else find that to be annoying??).

I’ve also included a section on Google Alerts, and how to REALLY use it effectively so you don’t miss a mention!

Media monitoring companies with prices listed on web

Anewstip is basically a giant database. You can search for journalists, news articles, and Tweets. You can monitor your library or any of your partner organizations or competitors. Alerts are sent to you via email whenever the site gets a new “hit” on your search tips. You can sort by relevance or date. I really love this site!  It’s free for one person to use as long as you don’t want to pitch to the media using the site.

I knew BuzzSumo as a platform for content research but I recently learned they added media monitoring. Your library can track mentions by setting up an alert that’s emailed to you. They also tell you which piece of coverage is shared/engaged with the most. There is a free seven-day trial. The cheapest paid version begins at $79 a month.

Critical Mention claims their algorithm can find broadcast news coverage for your library eight times faster than their competitors. They can search more than 2,000 global television and radio sources and claim to capture 40 hours of video content every minute, though I have been unable to test this claim because my library isn’t paying for media mentions. They do come highly rated and have won many industry awards. They ask potential clients to email them and promise they’ll negotiate a package that fits your budget. Most companies pay between $30 and $100 a month.

Talkwalker Alerts is a popular free alternative to Google Alerts. I use it, and I find it to be very helpful. It crawls the web for mentions of any organization you wish, including your library and any competitors (I use it to spy on local museums and nonprofit organizations). It works very much like Google Alerts. You create an account, then set up keywords in the search query. You can focus your search if you like on just blogs or just social media, if you prefer. You can set it up to send you results on a daily or weekly basis. I use this All. The. Time.

Media monitoring companies that don’t list their pricing

Burrells Luce has full-service and self-service monitoring services. The self-service will probably cost less but require more work on the part of you and your staff. They come highly rated.

A lot of for-profit companies use Cision for their marketing and communication needs. But the company has a media monitoring product that allegedly searches more than seven million sources for mentions of your library. A Google search shows that prices are as low as $20 a month for basic services but I can’t verify that price includes media monitoring.

Media Library is the company with which I have the most experience. They can actually get copies of segments you know aired couldn’t record. If you know your library is profiled on the 11 p.m. news, this company can get you a copy of that report for a fee. I can’t find the fees on their website anymore (and their website looks original–like, it was created in 1995 and never updated!) But we used them from 2013 until 2017 and I had no issues with them. Their coverage is limited–they are only in 27 markets in the Midwest, so there are libraries for whom this company is not an option.

The secret to make Google Alerts work really well

One of the first things I did when I sat down at my desk at the library on the first day was to set up Google Alerts. It’s free and easy.

There are drawbacks. It often returns results from my own website. And it sometimes misses results. But for me, it consistently catches the segments on TV, radio, and in local print publications as long as they make it onto the website of the news outlet handling the coverage.

The trick to getting results is to set up Google Alerts for a BUNCH of terms, not just the main name of your library system. I have a Google Alert set up for every branch of our system (41 in all!) plus all of our senior leaders, and the names of our major events, plus our big vendors like Treehouse and Overdrive (The actual alert is for Cincinnati Library Treehouse and Cincinnati Library Overdrive).

Setting up a ton of alerts does mean I catch a lot of mentions that are not related to my library, but I just spend a few minutes a day deleting the stuff that’s irrelevant. In the mix, I always find the mentions I need.

You can set Google Alerts to send you an email when it finds something or you can set it to once a day at a specified time (that’s the option I’ve selected). And you can go in later and modify and delete alerts easily.

Do you use a media monitoring service not listed in this article? If you like it and want to recommend it, please tell us about it in the comments.

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