It’s important to be familiar with public conversations on issues, as well as trends. Understanding how the media cover our issues is one important way to know what different audiences are hearing about them, and in what terms.
There are a number of ways to track your issue in the media, from sophisticated services that provide metrics and transcripts to simple Google keyword alerts that will let you know which outlets have produced content using your search terms. The goal of your tracking should be to identify which media cover your issues most, and whether your issue is making it into the media that reach your target audiences. From this information you can build media lists, identify sympathetic reporters, and gather articles for analysis, below.
While media tracking is ongoing, media analysis usually happens at regular intervals throughout your cam- paign. Analyzing media coverage involves reviewing a random sample of articles or shows that have covered your issue in some way over a specific time period. The dominant frames and arguments, the most prominent spokespeople and storylines, op-eds and editorial positions, all help to define the public discourse. At the begin- ning of a campaign or initiative, it’s important to gauge how your issue is being covered and your best opportu- nities for media outreach. Later, analysis will help you determine whether you’ve been successful in influencing coverage, or if trends have changed in ways that your messaging should address.