Don’t just use listening tools to track share of voice. Here’s how to use data to drive your content strategy.

PR pros know that media monitoring is essential for capturing earned media and brand mentions, and for real-time awareness of developments during a brand or industry crisis. But its benefits go beyond measurement.

When used strategically, media monitoring will allow you to find new contacts and media outlets, create better pitches, insert yourself into narratives and give you a few ideas for your owned content.

But first, some important advice: These strategies will only work if you are monitoring more than just your brand, clients, spokespeople and products. You must widen your monitoring to include your industry and competitors. Consider these tactics:

1. Time your news.

Properly monitoring what’s being said about your competitors and your industry will also keep you from sending out pitches that have no chance. If there’s something big brewing in your industry (or beyond your industry) that’s overshadowing everything else, it might not be the right time for you to send your story out. Or perhaps you need to tweak it to fit the narrative already in the news.

2. Streamline your pitching.

Analyzing where you get picked up and by whom will help you pivot your approach. If you’ve been pitching an equal number of reporters and broadcast producers, but only seem to end up in print publications or online blogs, it may be time to reapproach how you are contacting broadcast media.

Go back over your pitches as objectively as possible, and look to see how each pitch might be improved. Did you bury your hook? Is your pitch too long? Did you send it too early or too late?

3. Identify newsjacking opportunities.

Timeliness is essential in PR. You won’t be able to jump on every emerging trend or news story, but by monitoring your industry, you’ll be able to see what stories are resonating with journalists and insert your brand or client into the narrative.

Depending on the stage of the story and how fast you can organize, you might be able to provide facts and context, an expert commentary, trend data or projections for the future.

To make sure you don’t miss out on potential opportunities for newsjacking, set up automated alerts or regular media briefings in your media monitoring tool. You might not want to receive an alert every time your industry is mentioned, but a daily briefing will help keep you on top of things. However, if there’s a breaking story in your industry, you might want to set up another search with a narrower selection of keywords to focus in on the coverage, and then set automatic alerts so you don’t miss out on any developments.

4. Find new contacts.

Monitoring your industry and competitors might reveal a journalist, producer, blogger or podcaster you’ve never thought of reaching out to before. Or perhaps there’s a contact you’ve been trying to build inroads with for a long time but just can’t seem to craft the right message. Seeing what they write or produce about your industry or competition may finally give you the insight you need to write a compelling pitch just for them.

Also, monitoring will alert you to the detractors and champions of your industry. If your industry is regularly covered by a journalist who tends to skew towards the negative, they may not be the right contact for you.

5. Discover new opportunities.

The podcast market is continuing to grow, and it’s ripe with opportunity for earned media and advertising. If your competitors and industry are being covered by podcasters but you haven’t even dipped your toes into that medium, now is the time. Make sure to speak to your media monitoring provider about adding podcasts to your program.

6. Inform your owned content.

Make the most of any earned media placement and use the coverage as a jumping off point for your owned content. If you have writer’s block, look at what’s being said about you and what’s resonating with your audience. It may provide a unique perspective that you haven’t thought about to which you can write a blog response.

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