Competitor Tracking: Keep Your Friends Close, and Enemies Closer

August 11, 2016

We all know the age old saying, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” And while we’re certainly not likening all business competitors to enemies, at least not in most cases, the general idea is the same—you should be closely monitoring the current happenings of your industry because if not, you’re bound to miss out.

Enter competitor tracking. This activity may not sound like a make or break PR program on the surface, but it carries multiple essential benefits that make it hard for a company to ignore. Here are a few key benefits you derive from keeping tabs on the competition:

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Reporters & Relevant Outlets

The continuously evolving media landscape provides the foundation for ongoing proactive pitching opportunities. As your PR team, it’s our job to keep an ear to the ground so that we’re the first to introduce you to new publications, blogs or social media influencers.

One tried and true method to expanding your media outreach is looking to where your competitors are landing placements. If a media outlet finds your competitor of interest, that’s a likely sign that the publication will be pursuing other stories in your industry. This presents a golden opportunity to open up discussions with a reporter and demonstrate how your client’s POV on a market might just be the inspiration for their next story. By tracking reporters writing about your competitors, you can open the door to follow-up stories on the space just by reaching out and introducing yourself. 

How You’re Share of Voice Is Staking Up

Tracking your competitors is a great way to measure your PR strategy. If you’re in a particularly niche industry that doesn’t get a lot of general biz press, yet you notice your competitors continually breaking down the wall, it might be time to reassess the outreach strategy. On the other hand, if you’re company name is hitting the headlines and you are securing more mentions than anyone else, then you know your on the right path. Competitor tracking can be a great barometer for success. 

Apples to Apples 

Before we get ahead of ourselves, one important thing to keep in mind when competitor tracking is if you’re tracking the RIGHT competitors, and for the right reasons. For example, if you were a cloud start-up it wouldn’t do you much good to constantly be comparing yourself to the likes of AWS. Why? Because you’re not in the same league—at least not yet. It never hurts to dream big, but it does hurt to have a misconstrued self-perception in terms of size and name recognition.

A great way to decipher appropriate competitors is to break them out in terms of what type of coverage you’re looking to secure—such as corporate, product or financial. For example, you can track financial news if your competitor is public, but if your company happens to be private—you’re comparing apples to oranges.

-Laura

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