Beyond Google: Why thorough online searching and monitoring is crucial for PR practitioners

The internet is a tool widely used by public relations practitioners to search and monitor information relevant to them. Those who know the secrets of efficiently searching the web would know that Google searches is not the only nor always the most efficient way of finding relevant information.


Yes, that does mean there are other effective ways of finding the most recent article on Kim and Kanye or Kimye vs. Taylor Swift than searching google.

PR practitioners need to be able to find and sort information relevant to

  • target publics
  • the competitors of clients
  • evaluating campaigns coverage
  • managing online risk and brand abuse

Time is usually of the essence in the PR industry and therefore do not have time to spend scrolling through pages upon pages of Google search results.

Google does have some helpful tools that are useful as a basis for monitoring and searching. Google Alerts allows a practitioner to enter a word or phrase and then notifies when the words or phrase quoted on a page Google has indexed. I am sure Taylor and Kimye’s publicists have Google Alert notifications turned on hourly.

Google AdWords is another useful tool in which you can search specific terms. Google then gives some insights including how many people have searched the term. Eve Eastwood lists some other basic tips for ‘monitoring PR coverage’.

A highly important aspect of public relations is managing online risk and brand abuse. This is a difficult process because of how big the web is, how quickly things spread, and how It gives anyone a place to voice their opinion. The type of threat may differ between clients, and it can be almost impossible to monitor everything said about a band. Different services are available to monitor different threats. Some services include:

  • Domain name search – use DomainSurfer
  • Web content search – use AllTheWeb
  • Message boards content search – use BoardReader
  • Links to domain or homepage search – use ‘Reverse lookup’

More information on these services and their uses check out ‘How to use online monitoring to control your brand and capture revenue’ by Brian Murray.  If Taylor’s publicists were any good, they would be observing the damage done by her rivalry with Kimye.

Google tools such as Google Alerts and Google AdWords can provide basic information on relevant target publics but practitioners need further information. Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and message boards give insight into consumer opinions and trends. Watch Lynda video ‘Digital Market Research’ by Adiraan Brits for more information on how to use these resources to monitor and search.

Understanding where client competition sits is valuable information to a PR practitioner. LinkedIn can be a valuable tool when it comes to knowing partnerships and employees of relevant competitors. Monitoring tools such as Brand24 and Meltwater allow you to monitor mentions of competitors as well as monitor your own brand.

These monitoring tools along with Muck Rack and Brandwatch allow a practitioner to track ongoing PR campaigns by monitoring mentions in articles, social media, and the news. This can help with evaluating and gaining an understanding of coverage of campaigns. Jami Oetting offer a list of ‘PR tools for monitoring and managing’ that includes the ones mentioned in this post.

Knowledge is power, right. Therefore, the more knowledge we have the better. This means going beyond a google search and using tools that will provide more detailed, relevant and further information.

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