Photo Credit: Parliament Hill Image (Expedia.ca) Image Creation: Canva
Monitoring trends online can be a little overwhelming. With so many tools to choose from and platforms available for monitoring, creating a dashboard and listening system that’s relevant for your organization is a time-consuming effort.
The silver lining for government relations professionals in Canada who want to monitor their industry online lies in how concentrated the information is on social media platforms. Unlike broad industries like technology or interest areas like sports or music, the audience of Canadians participating in political discussion – and more specifically, conversations on government relations – is relatively small.
It is important to clarify the difference between listening tools, and sources of information. Tools are the platforms and searches that you use to compile and process information about the conversations you want to know about. Sources, on the other hand, are where you’d go to find these conversations, be it social media platforms, blog sites, etc.
With this in mind, there are two listening tools, as well as two sources of information that are go to’s for GR professionals who want to learn more about who’s talking politics and lobbying in Canada:
- Google Alerts (delivered via RSS feed such as Feed.ly): Lobbyists and lobbying activities in Ottawa tend to be mentioned in traditional media and news stories more often than blogs. While Google Alerts monitors both, having these set up for the individuals in your organization as well as for major public policy campaigns can identify what people are saying about a person or topic in both sources. Personally, I find having Google Alerts delivered via RSS feed a lot less daunting than email alerts each time an organization or topic is mentioned. RSS feed readers such as Feedly are good tools to group your Google Alerts and have them presented in one place.
- Twitter Search: The Parliamentary Press Gallery and Ottawa bubble tends to form an echo-chamber on Twitter, which makes Twitter searches a key listening tool for GR professionals. What are the media minds and pundits talking about on the Hill? Are MPs and Senators discussing certain causes and topics more than others? Creating follower lists and searching under key hashtags (#cdnpoli) are important to know what’s topical on the Hill.
While the search function acts as a tool, Twitter itself is an important source of information for GR professionals. It provides a look at which advocacy groups are on the Hill, if any have corresponding tags for their lobby days, and if their causes are being heard by Parliamentarians. Additionally, I’d recommend two other sources of information to dedicate some time to:
- LinkedIn: Prior to this course, I did not consider the advantages of LinkedIn as a social media platform for B2B Communications. I’ve since discovered its power for both distributing industry-specific information and monitoring the activities of competitors and allies online. Rather than blasting content to the (relatively) non-specific audience posting on #cdnpoli, LinkedIn can provide more opportunities to connect with people who are more actively searching for this content, and operating in similar industries. Our shares and likes on LinkedIn posts tend to be much higher than Twitter as well.
- Political News Sites and Aggregators (iPolitics / National Newswatch): These are two of the best sources of political news for those in the Ottawa bubble. iPolitics has an expansive columnist list which provides interesting perspectives on issues of the day. National Newswatch is an aggregator which takes top trending stories from major news sources and pulls them into one place (it also has a very high readership on Parliament Hill itself). Specific to GR, I also like to keep tabs on Lobby Monitor, which is a publication associated with the Hill Times, that is focused specificially on lobbying-related news. It is subscription based, and it tends to really only be utilized by those in the industry (not necessarily those looking to buy GR services).
Of course there are many other sources of information (including Facebook and Google+) which may be helpful for getting a sense of what’s trending in political chatter. These are just a sampling of the tools I’ve found useful in compiling news and information on what’s happening in the industry over the last couple of months.
Are there any tools that you’re using to monitor industry-specific information? Any that you may suggest for those working in GR or politics? Please leave a note in the comment section – would love to hear what they are.