Not just a press-clipping service

MEDIA monitoring is a little-known but very handy business service, says Media Monitors WA general manager Mark Willington. “I often meet people who have no idea what media monitoring is about,” Mr Willington said.

“The simplest way I can describe it is that we peruse all the content in newspapers, the radio and on TV, and then provide clients with any news or current affairs item that appears in the media that is relevant or of interest to them.

“New clients are always amazed at the information that is out there.”

The two key players in the media monitoring market in Australia are Rehame Australia and Media Monitors.

Rehame Australia has been in Perth for four years, chipping away at Media Monitor’s domination of the WA market.

Media Monitors provides audio tapes, video tapes and transcripts of media items – and even entire press conferences. Company staff attend such events to get full coverage but do not ask their own questions. The result is a verbatim account without PR spin.

Rehame WA state manager Nic Hayes said, while the majority of Rehame clients required a press clipping service, the company differentiated itself from competitors by placing a strong emphasis on monitoring electronic media.

Mr Hayes said the print media still had its place in Australia but the electronic media was expanding rapidly and knew no boundaries.

“The number of online sites providing an information service has skyrocketed in the past 12 months,” Mr Hayes said.

“Pay TV is making its mark on Australia and TV is still our greatest source of information.”

Mr Hayes said Rehame Australia recorded and monitored more than 65,000 stories from around the nation each week, with a considerable focus on live talkback radio monitoring.

Media Monitors is owned by former advertising doyen Neville Jeffress, now 82.

The company operates 24 hours a day, monitoring 1,700 publications, 163 radio stations and 84 television stations and major networks. This comprises 90 per cent of Australia’s print and electronic media.

On average, the Media Monitors WA branch monitors around 18,000 items each day.

Mr Willington said media monitoring was useful even to companies that seldom made the news.

“They can find out about their competitors, what the government is saying, and information about new developments in their industry,” he said.

“Another big area of business for us is when a company is dealing with a crisis or an issue that is affecting them. The media spotlight is daunting but we can help an organisation deal with that by keeping them as informed as possible.

“Companies have to be very careful in how they manage their relationship with the media. It’s important to make sure reports about the company are correct, as perceptions created by the media can have a very real bearing on stock prices and the goodwill of customers.

“Growth areas of our business include providing content for research purposes or for people wanting to backtrack and get an item they have missed.”

Mr Willington said many public relations companies used the service to keep abreast of their client’s press coverage. He said this made up 10 per cent of Media Monitors’ business.

“Around 40 per cent of our clientele are government, 42 per cent are corporate and the remaining 8 per cent includes not-for-profit organisations, sport associations and casual users who employ our services on an ‘as needed’ basis,” he said.

Mr Willington said Media Monitors’ Media People guide was considered the bible to all media contacts in Australia.

Rehame founder Peter Maher features on Paul Murray’s 6PR program every Friday to relay top national stories that have made it into Australian media and Mr Hayes files

a weekly report on Harvey Deegan’s 6PR program every Tuesday.

The Rehame Report also appears weekly in the media section of The Australian.

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