As Covid-19 vaccines hit the market early this year, governments faced the unenviable task of convincing citizens to get their shots. Governments had to reassure nervous citizens and stamp out misinformation, while finding out how to make their own messages stick.

In this high-stakes situation, intelligent media monitoring tools lit the way. By guiding public health agencies towards the most important insights, these tools allowed governments to double down on key messages.

How else can media monitoring help government? Joanna Arnold, CEO of Access Intelligence, shares her thoughts.

Delivering proactive and reactive insights

Public sector teams are incredibly busy. Media monitoring tools can zero in on key strategic insights that can then be fed back into campaigns and communications, to amplify agencies’ impact. This can be done in two main ways.

First, governments can harness proactive media monitoring to pinpoint how to best reach the audience with their message. By viewing the “media as a partner”, governments can tap the most impactful publications, communities, and angles to capture support, Arnold says.

With proactive media management, governments see strategic partnerships in every direction. For instance, governments could send out a community-specific message to small, local publications that are read by very specific communities while broadcasting a much more general message on global flagship publishers for maximum reach.

Next, reactive media management gives agencies a real time view of public reactions to key government decisions. Media sentiment travels fast, presenting governments with the opportunity to tap into a near-constant feedback loop.

Media monitoring agencies look for message gaps — that is, the difference between governments’ original message and the way that it is received and reproduced on mainstream and social media — to flag potential issues.

Governments can then take steps to resolve citizen complaints as quickly and efficiently as possible, whether through recalibrating their approach, issuing public statements, or tackling gaps on the ground.

For instance, PLUS Malaysia Berhad, one of the largest toll expressway operators in Southeast Asia, used media monitoring to unearth insights about highway customer behaviour. This enabled the team to review its brand reputation strategy and clinch Gold in managing crisis and reputation at the AMEC Awards, a global awards programme for communications measurement.

Global reach for local insights

Next, media monitoring allows governments to tap on real time global insights. This helps governments “learn from each other, to develop the best way to approach initiatives for their own citizens”, Arnold says.

Global monitoring can hence serve as an “early warning indicator”. Before launching a new policy, governments can track how comparable initiatives have fared in other countries. This gives government agencies a sense of “how the local media may pick up those topics, and ultimately how they may well go on to influence public sentiment.”

Such insights help governments anticipate potential problems with policy implementation and support, and adjust their policies accordingly. It also allows them to refine their messaging for maximum citizen impact.

Isentia, Asia Pacific’s leading media intelligence company, merged with software and information company Access Intelligence in June. The combined communications and marketing company now serves over 6000 clients, and is the media monitoring agency with the most government clients in the four continents it operates in.

With brands like Walt Disney and Samsung under its belt, Isentia is already no stranger to delivering professional, impactful marketing value for clients. Now boosted by this partnership, Isentia is poised to “connect the dots” for public sector clients through global horizon scanning, complementing a “local, personalised experience and understanding of the media” to help supercharge these insights.

Building trust and connection

For government organisations, building trust is key. Governments could have the best policies, but how effective these truly are is ultimately determined by citizen uptake.

Media monitoring can help governments to engage constructively with skeptical audiences. By measuring the impact of government messaging on different segments of the population, governments can understand how different communities perceive and discuss issues in very different ways. This enables them to adapt communications accordingly.

For instance, media monitoring companies have tracked public attitudes about Covid-19 across US states, identifying trends across demographics and pinning down the most salient concerns.

With Access Intelligence’s social listening product Pulsar, Isentia expects to be able to track “how the mainstream media landscape is playing out in social media” by early next year, Arnold notes. This will help governments keep even better tabs on citizen reception.

As government agencies work tirelessly for the public good, keeping an ear to the ground can take up time that civil servants simply don’t have. Media monitoring tools are an efficient, effective way to help them amplify their impact.

Image of Joanna Arnold, CEO of Access Intelligence, courtesy of Isentia.