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Media Monitoring Services: In-house or Subscription?

What’s the difference?

How your company is being mentioned in the media can have a big impact on the business it does. But what is the best media monitoring service for you? Free? Paid? Subscription? In-house?

Let’s work through it!

Let’s face it. Today, brand reputation is everything.

These days, we are all quick to connect and engage. Media is getting news out faster through more channels than ever before. It is important to understand what is being said about your business to manage its reputation.

Media monitoring is nothing new.

In fact, media monitoring started as far back as the 1800s as a press clipping service.

Way back then, news publications scanned articles in printed news and searched manually for keywords, and would try to sell their findings to large industrial companies that would hire them to understand public sentiment.*

This was a real grind for people to manage, and it was tedious and unfulfilling work for those who did it.  

Fast-forward 100 years in the future and you will see many organizations monitor editorial content of news sources that include newspapers, magazines, trade journals, forums, blogs, television, radio stations and, of course, the internet.

And while brands still use press clipping services, it is done without the toil of repetitious and meticulous manual labour.

In fact, most media monitoring tools are “set-it-and-forget-it” services – so your staff are not focused on the onerous task of pulling clips from media but can still benefit from the insight this provides – like gauging sentiment of the general population for a public relations strategy.

A lot of the time, media monitoring tools are managed by research consultants or public relations experts who assist organizations by providing them access to commercial media monitoring services.

While many organizations use in-house staff to monitor their brand in the news, some corporations, government agencies, non-profit organizations and entertainment companies regularly outsource media monitoring tools.

They do it to track the success of their releases, as well as to find information about their competitors and specific issues relevant to the organization.

In thinking about the media monitoring needs of an organization, it’s easy to assume that monitoring done in-house may be inexpensive compared to hiring a service provider.

But what are the trade-offs for in-house media monitoring over monitoring services?


In-house media monitoring vs media monitoring service providers – which is better?

Media monitoring is not a one-size-fits-all service.

In fact, that’s why most organizations monitor news media by using a process they often build or borrow.

While news monitoring techniques differ from business to business, the foundation of media monitoring revolves around the same notion – listening to what people are saying about your brand, about your competitors and about your industry.

If you work in an organization that deals directly with the public, then you are likely already involved in some form of monitoring service.

But are you monitoring your brand through an alert system like Google, and then pulling other channel data to create one report?

This is often the case when administering monitoring in-house using only the available resources.

Some of the perks to media monitoring in-house include staff members’ historical and contextual knowledge of their organization.

Often, there are already employees on-site with a breadth of knowledge about the organization – and that is something that media monitoring tools do not have. That said, in-house experience can lead to a “can’t see the forest for the trees” form of assumption based on prior experience, and not based upon what’s actually being said about your company.

As a result, the tools you have available in-house are not always spot on with gauging sentiment of news stories. Often, that leads to misrepresented sentiment.

Media monitoring may be easier and more effective.

Now, say you are a service provider in an urban centre.

Chances are you are an organization that’s being discussed in the media. However, this coverage is most likely on the local news rather than the national outlets. Therefore, your exposure across television, radio and online sources may only appear on local TV news programs and radio – and if you’re lucky, the digital channels they manage.

Knowing this, your company’s level of monitoring may be more focused on a specific location, and often will not require the full media monitoring package. Sometimes a paid subscription to include just television or just radio may not be the best use of your media budget, either.

While in-house media monitoring services can be time consuming and come at a higher cost than a media monitoring service provider, a media monitoring service provider will take the entire hassle of managing an online media tool – so your business can focus on the results.

Replacing your in-house monitoring tools with a commercial media monitoring service will deliver better results at a lower cost than in-house staff.


Because your staff can focus on what matters – the results.

Leave the boring, tedious and time-consuming task of finding clips to the monitoring service provider so your staff can do more fruitful, and perhaps more gratifying, work.

Determining Media Monitoring Needs: Traditional? Online?

CyberAlert has a fantastic comprehensive media monitoring guide.

In their guide, they explain in detail about the “increased emphasis on investment for corporate communications, an effective monitoring service is essential for both a media intelligence service and to demonstrate the success of an organization’s public relations and social media programs.”

The guide neatly details how to determine your needs, especially when deciding if a free service can manage the monitoring needs of your organization.

The first question is – what to monitor?

Online news monitoring is a requisite for most organizations.

In addition, most monitoring tools – including Insightrix Media Monitoring – offer additional online news media monitoring from which we can capture clips from most media in Canada, the United States and elsewhere.

Our online software monitors most news outlets (both offline and digital) and, as a result, it misses fewer clips.

There are free online news search engines like Google News that use similar tools as subscribed monitoring services, such as real-time alerts and up-to-the-minute search results with news clips relevant to time and date. You can receive daily emails, monitor aggregated keyword lists and more.

Subscription-based online news monitoring services can offer greater efficiencies than the free model of monitoring, such as auto-search inquiries that go weeks back and use advanced algorithms to extract irrelevant clips, translate clips and articles, and create robust data visualization using sentiment analysis.

Media monitoring service providers can create customized dashboards to meet your company’s needs and will often work with clients regularly to ensure media monitoring is capturing the essence of what is being said about your company’s brand.

Then there’s traditional news – like television and radio – which are arguably best monitored through a paid service provider.

While there are ways to monitor traditional news through a means of online search, it is hard to quantify and narrow down specific stories and tie them back to the brand.  

That is why service providers are often used to monitor designated market areas so businesses have access to their local broadcast. Not all newscasts are available online; therefore, managing media monitoring in-house – as it pertains to traditional news – can prove to be rather pricey.

Often, integrated media monitoring is key for most organizations who require different services for news and broadcast and social media. According to the CyberAlert Media Monitoring Guide, the trend is geared towards integrated services in which one media monitoring company provides all three media intelligence services: news and broadcast and social media.

So which method is better?

As we’ve seen, the choice to go in-house for media monitoring or to employ a service to do it for you can be a tricky one.

Ultimately, it’s about the needs your company has, how many and what types of news services you wish to monitor, how wide the net you wish to cast will be and – of course – how much you’re willing to invest.

While in-house monitoring may often seem like the most cost-effective and most reliable source (given employee knowledge and memory), this is regularly not the case. In-house monitoring will not give you the range of coverage that a subscription or third-party service can provide and often comes at a greater cost.

Subscription services, like Insightrix Media Monitoring, will usually give you the best option when it comes to range and depth of monitoring, number of sources monitored and price.  

Want to know more about the Insightrix Media Monitoring Service?

Get the Insightrix Media Monitoring brochure and learn what your champions and critics are saying online, and how the media are positioning your company in their news stories and opinion pieces.

Source: CyberAlert – Media Monitoring: The Complete Guide