Using bench marking to stay ahead of the competition
Get tangible results with competitor bench marking
The age old adage that you shouldn’t compare yourself to others rarely rings true in business. After all, while internal improvements are all well and good in their own right, it’s the performance of your industry peers that will really dictate your success or failure. Why? Well, simply put, clients don’t really care for how an organisation has bettered its inward-facing processes and will always be more interested in where they can obtain a superior quality product or service. This, in turn, ultimately gives greater exposure and engagement to brands that outperform competition.
So, what can you do to outmaneuver organisations that share your market and capture more of your target audience?
“Competitor benchmarking can give you an edge over your industry peers”
In years gone by, staying ahead of the competition might have meant designing new and improved products in a bid to win over an audience, without any real understanding of whether your efforts would prove to be successful.
Thankfully, those days are long behind us, and now media monitoring analytics can provide you with competitor benchmarks, which can reveal a veritable treasure trove of data about your peers. This information can be used to learn more about audience sentiment within your sector and enable you to intelligently reshape your strategies as a result.
Naturally, the success of your efforts hinge on your ability to carry out bench marking effectively. To achieve this, the Victoria government’s Business initiative recommended that organisations should follow five steps:
Establish an aim for the bench marking
Identify trends within their sector
Define an action plan
The final step can be a time-consuming process, so making use of media monitoring tools may help you stay on top of the data without dedicating all of your resources towards it.
3 compelling reasons to benchmark your competition
1. Learn what your competitors’ audiences are talking about
Social analytics can identify what your competitors’ audiences are talking about in the social space.
Alongside traditional channels such as TV, radio and newspapers, social media has quickly become a force to be reckoned with. In Singapore, for example, people spend an average of 2.1 hours per day on various social platforms, according to marketing agency Hashmeta.
Benchmarking can help you extract information from this valuable space. Find out what your competitors’ followers are talking about and engaging with, and use this information to restructure your communications strategies in the digital space.
2. Understand winning strategies that your competition is using
Use media monitoring tools to work out what goes into creating a winning communications strategy.
Nobody likes a copycat, but there’s no denying that taking inspiration from other successful organisations in your space can be fruitful. Media monitoring services can reveal strategies that your competitors have carried out in the past and help you identify the effective elements that went into crafting them.
With this information in hand, you can implement a strategy that shares some of the characteristics you’ve identified. Remember, you don’t want to recreate the work of your competitors. Rather, you’re determining the ingredients that go into a strong campaign and reinventing them for your own purposes.
3. Detect niches
Competitor benchmarking can help you set new targets.
Another benefit of using competitor bench marking is that it can identify gaps in the market that your organisation may be able to enter. Frost & Sullivan surmised that this ability to detect niches within a competitive space can help smaller organisations compete with larger and more established rivals.
Louise is an experienced content marketing professional who translates Isentia’s marketing strategy into impactful and effective marketing campaigns across multiple channels. As the Content Marketing Specialist for Isentia, Louise enjoys creating informative and engaging content for media and communications professionals.
The circular economy of Australia’s soft plastics recycling system
You’ve probably heard of REDcycle by now - the initiative started by a passionate mum, providing Australian’s with the opportunity to recycle their soft plastics. Its operation helped reduce the amount of landfill in Australia and its sudden halt in operation sent the community into a frenzy.
The pause in the popular REDcycle program presented an opportunity to rethink the model for soft plastics recycling in Australia and find end markets for recycled package content. It also prompted Australians to rethink the way they consume products, rather than just the way they recycle them.
Social media conversations show Australians continue to encourage retailers and large corporations to use their influential power to create impactful change. These conversations are heightened where regression (or progression) is made towards sustainability.
Soft plastic recycling to the kerb
As Australians become more conscience about their soft plastic usage, it raises the question of whether the collapse of the REDcycle program was a blessing in disguise or more of a curse on sustainability?
From the end of October 2022 to the end of March 2023, Australians have consistently felt negative sentiment towards REDcycle’s collapse with spikes when key announcements were made by the organisation. Overall, close to 45% of Aussies felt negatively compared to 18.5% positive.
The collection of coverage
As people learned the news about REDcycle, there was heightened concern about how soft plastics were going to be recycled. With over 12,000 mainstream media items about REDcycle or soft plastic recycling, it supports the idea that Australia’s broken plastic recycling system is distressing for many and more needs to be done.
The halt in operation brought on more concern for the environment and ignited feelings of anger and distrust after thousands of tonnes of plastic had been stockpiled instead of being recycled.
Media coverage across different channels (social media, search, broadcast and print) shows spikes of coverage on the same days (9 November, 7 February, 27 February) but at varying levels;
9 November - REDcycle announced it would pause its operations indefinitely. This shock announcement caused an influx of conversations on social media platforms which then caused people to search ‘where to recycle soft plastics’.
7 February - additional stockpiles of plastic were discovered in warehouses. People felt disappointed and let down by REDcycle.
23 February - supermarket giants announced they would take responsibility for the 12,400 tonnes of soft plastic stored by REDcycle in warehouses around the country, ahead of REDcycle declaring their insolvency. This announcement gained more chatter across social media in comparison to other channels.
Conversations on Twitter represent social media as the preferred option for users in comparison to broadcast, print and search.
Closing the loop
As political leaders have the power to influence their supporters on sustainability development, sustainability advocates are pushing Australian leaders to accelerate plastic waste regulations.
Conversations on Reddit rapidly grew on 9 November - the day the REDcycle program paused. Overall sentiment was anger and sadness with many expressing their feelings of disappointment after learning their donated soft plastics were not ending up where promised. Others felt frustrated or angry towards large organisations who were not holding up their end of the deal, especially after taking the time to correctly separate their recyclable waste.
At 40%, political enthusiasts far outweigh any other active community on social media and forums. Their ‘passion’ for Australia can be overshadowed, as they share their beliefs towards the government - ranging from incompetence to over governing. Generation Z are true digital natives and make up 22% of active online communities. This cohort is motivated to make more sustainable choices, if it means it will benefit the environment for the long term.
Supermarkets to the rescue
The REDcycle program illustrated the complexity of soft plastics recycling and the need to build robust systems to close the loop on this common household waste. For years there have been stockpiling issues, dumping, toxic fires and lax regulations, making it challenging to operate.
Australia’s largest supermarkets continue to work towards reducing unnecessary plastics in their stores, and support the development of circular economies through the use of recycled material.
Supermarket chains have moved quickly to find an alternative solution, teaming up with the National Plastics Recycling Scheme (NPRS) with financing from the Federal Government and top food and grocery producers to establish the Roadmap to Restart Taskforce.
23 February 2023, supermarket giants announced the return of soft plastics recycling by late 2023, despite the lack of recyclers. This announcement generated 6 x the amount of ‘supermarket’ Twitter mentions compared to 1 Nov 2022.
Although it’s a promising development, announcements like these are what drive the conversations and force change. This rings true as sustainability advocates push for more substantial action to address soft plastic waste in Australia.
Large organisations are being challenged to rethink how they package their products and how they can be more sustainable, what about the government?
A RED hot go
Minister for Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek, has been vocal in her response to the soft plastics recycling crisis. Initially, the program's failure was met with calls for urgent action with Ms Plibersek weighing in on the news, saying it was “really concerning” and put the pressure on major supermarkets to come up with an alternative recycling program.
Although it is acknowledged that the government plays a role, it has been made clear the responsibility also lies with manufacturers and packagers.
State and Federal Ministers are actively sharing their opinions and policies online in an effort to make change faster and positively influence their audience. Victorian Premier, Dan Andrews and the Victorian Government are leading the way, banning the selling and supply of single-use plastics in the state.
Commonwealth, State and Territory governments have jointly invested considerable funds into developing local capabilities to recover the challenging recycling stream and have committed to turning around Australia’s lack of progress on its recycling targets, setting new targets for 2025.
Adding another interesting layer of insights on social media from our sister company Pulsar, is that reddit is playing a major role in disseminating sentiment surrounding the REDcycle program. The below chart shows the most recurring keywords grouped by channel. The larger the tile, the more times the topic has appeared in that channel. Conversations involving scientists were notable and finding a solution to plastic pollution was a key narrative.
Trust was also a recurring keyword across all channels, indicating trust needs to be rebuilt. is something that needs to be rebuilt. Australians have begun to lose faith in the recycling industry as there is a lack of transparency into how much actually gets recycled.
The introduction of a new taskforce - the Road to Restart - will work towards rebuilding the public trust in soft plastic recycling. The taskforce also endeavours to ensure supermarkets and the packaging sector will get it right on their own accord.
The way forward
Conversations through online forums show Australians deeply care about sustainability, stating that ‘unless it can be recycled, it shouldn’t be produced.’
Social media platforms are especially fueled by sustainability advocates who need to share a broader awareness of recycling initiatives and earn potential audiences - conversations are widespread and emotions are elevated. Whereas broadcast and print channels are sharing the facts and the need to know information, directing audiences to use the information they have and to search where they can take their soft plastics. In addition to sustainability advocates, everyday Australians are learning how to pivot, seeking out support and ideas from fellow supporters on Twitter and other social media platforms.
If organisations can work together and policymakers can set clear legislative frameworks, it’s possible to implement necessary changes in both manufacturer and consumer behaviour to create a thriving circular plastics economy.
The pause of REDcycle is certainly on its way to being a good thing for the environment.
The circular economy of Australia’s soft plastics recycling system You’ve probably heard of REDcycle by now – the initiative started by a passionate mum, providing Australian’s with the opportunity to recycle their soft plastics. Its operation helped reduce the amount of landfill in Australia and its sudden halt in operation sent the community into a […]
Isentia's parent company Access Intelligence has been recognised as one of Europe’s fastest growing companies in the FT 1000, a yearly ranking by the Financial Times and German data platform Statista. The FT 1000, now in its 7th edition, ranks the 1,000 companies in Europe that have achieved the highest percentage growth in revenues.
Access Intelligence is an AIM-listed tech innovator, delivering high quality SaaS products that address the fundamental business needs of clients in the marketing and communications industries.
‘Understanding audiences has become essential for organisations across industries and geographies: we’re seeing that need grow every day, as more and more of our clients put media insights, reputation and audience intelligence at the center of their strategy,’ said Joanna Arnold, CEO of Access Intelligence.
The group powers the world’s most relevant brands across regions and industries: with over 6,000 clients worldwide, Access Intelligence helps clients like Apple, Coca-Cola, Pfizer, the UK House of Commons, HSBC, Twitter, and the Australian Government understand their audiences and monitor the media landscape.
The evolving Access Intelligence portfolio includes Isentia, the market-leading media monitoring, intelligence and insights solution provider; Pulsar, the audience intelligence and social listening platform; Vuelio, which provides monitoring, insight, engagement and evaluation tools for politics, editorial and social media in one place; and ResponseSource, the network that connects journalists and influencers to the PR and communications industry.
string(77) "FT names Isentia's parent company one of Europe’s fastest growing companies"
string(339) "Isentia's parent company Access Intelligence has been recognised as one of Europe’s fastest growing companies in the FT 1000, a yearly ranking by the Financial Times and German data platform Statista. The FT 1000, now in its 7th edition, ranks the 1,000 companies in Europe that have achieved the highest percentage growth in revenues."
string(19) "2023-03-22 21:54:41"
string(19) "2023-03-22 21:54:41"
FT names Isentia’s parent company one of Europe’s fastest growing companies
Isentia’s parent company Access Intelligence has been recognised as one of Europe’s fastest growing companies in the FT 1000, a yearly ranking by the Financial Times and German data platform Statista. The FT 1000, now in its 7th edition, ranks the 1,000 companies in Europe that have achieved the highest percentage growth in revenues.
“In the future there will be no female leaders, there will just be leaders”
-- Sheryl Sandberg
Our recent partnered research with Women in Media showed there is still significant gender discrimination within the media and a long way to go before parity is reached. Female voices are being excluded in shaping public perception in industries where women lead in employment, such as retail, sport and health. This creates hurdles for female experts and sources, and demonstrates the largest gap between women employment share and media representation.
All organisations have a role to play, with a responsibility to provide equal opportunities and outcomes for men and women.
Through the power of collaboration and raising each other up, it presents an opportunity for women to change the status quo.
Women in the workplace
Women’s voices and women’s participation within the workplace are lacking true representation and the amplification they deserve. Whether it’s in leadership, as a spokesperson or across the news value chain - there’s more that can be done to avoid misrepresentation of an organisation as this sends a conflicting message to their audience.
As the Women in Media research suggests, to avoid underrepresentation, organisations should:
Review and assess their level of representation
Invest in training and development for spokeswomen and
Commit to monitor change.
Workplaces have a responsibility to ensure there is a focus on gender balance through inclusion and diversity as well as provide support and visibility of pathways to leadership roles.
Mapping out the right spokesperson
When choosing a spokesperson, it's the role of an organisation to select someone who is a well suited representative, and be able to provide the best answers for their key audiences. The characteristics of a spokesperson are similar to that of a leader, with competency (37%), confidence (31%), and good communication (26%) being the most important. They also need to speak with authority, with their opinions being trusted, but also an ability to connect with stakeholders and not shy away from empathy, if it’s needed.
Women need to be given the support and authority to be a trusted brand ambassador or spokesperson for the organisation.
At a time when a story hits the media, there is a framework organisations can put into place to ensure success:
Subject: who is the subject of the story and whose perspective does it amplify.
Narrative: what are the stories being told or what stories are being missed. I.e. Consider which stories are written by women/men or feature more women/men, who is telling the story - experts, sources, spokespeople etc.
Opportunity:1. how much opportunity does the spokesperson have to express their opinion, how frequently are they visually represented, what role do they play and how are they portrayed? 2. provide training and development of spokeswomen to contribute to achieving gender equity in the media. And as spokeswomen are called on their leadership and expertise, it will present a fair representation of Australian society.
Women in Media Gender Scorecard
The Women in Media Scorecard explores the visibility of women as authors, participants and subjects of news in Australian media. It identifies core areas in media analytics (bylines, sources, experts) to monitor change over time and positive or negative shifts towards achieving parity for women in Australian media. Isentia analysis included 18,346 reports from Australian press, radio and TV news coverage over a 14-day period, from 18-31 July 2022.
Trajectory to gender parity
Some say a woman alone has power; collectively they have impact.
Across all industries and organisations, when it comes to women supporting other women, there is power in the pack.
Women often underestimate the value they can offer, the wisdom and knowledge they can share can benefit and support many women (and men too).
From increasing productivity and enhancing collaboration, to inspiring organisational dedication and boosting confidence, women can be unstoppable when working towards a desired goal, together.
“Women need to get behind other women. Encourage their expertise. Acknowledge their strengths. Champion their success. Amplify their voice.”
Interestingly, our research shows female reporters are 30% more likely to quote female sources than male reporters. This suggests that women do support women, yet women dominated industries are not being represented as such in the media. The highest underrepresentation of female sources tended to be associated with topics/sectors with a high female employment share, for example in retail, sport and health.
This presents an opportunity for organisations to increase women’s representation in leadership positions and boost women’s workforce participation. By doing this, it will encourage women to amplify other women and contribute to achieving gender parity within the workplace.
Men Dominate As Sources, Even In Industries Where Women Lead Employment
Source gender split vs industry employment
The affinity bias
The media hype plus cultural perceptions might showcase that women don't want to revel in another woman's success. Yet it’s quite the opposite.
Dedicated days like International Women’s Day are a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements of other women beyond the divisions of national, ethnic, cultural, economic or political barriers. But it shouldn't stop there.
Status quo bias and gender blindness are two key areas of bias within organisations. For whatever reason, when we think about a leader or a person with authority, our brains default to think of a male. The ‘think manager, think male’ norms continue to hold women back and contribute to a notable gender gap in self promotion within the workplace.
Women are 33% less likely to promote their performance and only 60% of women actively make people aware of their accomplishments. And this wasn't due to a lack of desire, however it was more likely to attribute their failures to lack of ability. Because women feel the workplace is harder on them, they’re harder on themselves, causing their confidence to take a hit. Yet for women to advance in leadership roles or further their career, self-promotion is a must.
In instances where women are confident and assertive at work, they can be penalised by others and be referred to as bossy. In fact, women are twice as likely to be branded as bossy in the workplace for doing the same behaviours as men.This can often impact their desire to celebrate their achievements and also have a negative impact on how well they are liked by their peers.
Within the media landscape in particular, women reporters are more likely to:
Challenge gender stereotypes
Raise gender inequality issues
Reference legislation or policies that promote gender equality or human rights.
Yet they don’t get seen as experts in their field and get the bylines to showcase this.
The Women in Media research shows only two of the 35 identified topic groups (6%) recorded a greater share of women sources than men. Females are notably under-represented when comparing the share of experts in media reporting with the share of sector employment. The pattern of media underrepresentation in women-dominated industries extends from sources to the share of experts quoted.
With the spotlight on gender equity, now is the time for women to support and amplify other women across all industries.
A call to arms
At Isentia equity, inclusion and diversity is something we are all passionate about and we choose partnerships that help us shine a light on these issues. We value the voice that our women leaders and employees can have within our company and industry and are always looking for opportunities to elevate their voices.
Company CEO Joanna Arnold believes ‘the true value of insights is when it's used to shine a light on societal issues and inspire behaviour that drives change. Our innovation in audience intelligence underpins our purpose to help surface the diverse voices shaping wider societal narratives’ so that they can be better represented in the media and other channels shaping public perception”.
The Women in Media Research highlights that much work remains to provide gender equity and share of voice for women in organisations and through representation in Australian media.
Organisations can play an important role in gender equity by:
Investing in training and development for their spokespeople and instill confidence into their female employees
Constantly review and assess their level of female representation
Ensure the chosen person is an accurate representation of the workplace
Commit to monitoring change and
Build a supportive workplace culture
Moving forward, as more women encourage and support other women, the more will be received in return.
We can continue to support the positive impact organisations have towards female representation and gender parity. We want to improve the barriers and drivers for women representation in organisations across societal, organisational and individual levels.
If you’d like to learn more about The Women in Media Scorecard or discover how Isentia can help your organisation with impactful insights-driven research, get in touch with us today.
Women in Media Report, 2022
Isentia's Leadership Index 3: Leading Through Change
string(32) "Womankind: The Power of the Pack"
string(249) "All organisations have a role to play, with a responsibility to provide equal opportunities and outcomes for men and women.
Through the power of collaboration and raising each other up, it presents an opportunity for women to change the status quo."
string(19) "2023-03-08 00:38:03"
string(19) "2023-03-08 00:38:03"
Womankind: The Power of the Pack
All organisations have a role to play, with a responsibility to provide equal opportunities and outcomes for men and women.
Through the power of collaboration and raising each other up, it presents an opportunity for women to change the status quo.
When it comes to reputation management, understanding your audience perception puts you a step ahead. Learning your audiences frustrations and what drives them, provides insight into how to positively engage with them. As a PR or comms professional, knowing which audience segment impacts or influences your brand reputation is key, especially when sharing messaging.
Reputation is important at the best of times, yet throughout the pandemic, pharmaceutical companies gained the media spotlight whilst their reputation was under scrutiny. As a result, they had to act swiftly and develop new vaccines for immediate and long term use on a global scale.
How do audiences perceive the pharmaceutical industry?
Since the pandemic, we've learned companies are expected to lead. Large companies that failed to take significant actions lost reputation. Those that acted on the opportunities presented to them, flourished. To build or maintain a positive reputation, companies needed to become agile and evolve their operations.
By using media monitoring and audience intelligence tools, brand reputation and audience perception can be tracked and managed by monitoring traditional and social data, news and industry-specific artificial intelligence (AI).
Audience perception comes from customer experience, functionality and reputation across mainstream and social media conversations. With social media being an unfiltered platform, it can be hard for brands to control their narrative. However, when you know what your audience is saying about your brand, you can better understand the influential voices and outlets leading the conversations. Monitoring traditional and social media allows you to:
The change in audience sentiment
As an industry that’s responsible for the research, development, production and distribution of medications around the world, having a positive reputation is invaluable.
Pharmaceutical companies frequently use social media to communicate health concerns, new advancements and potential outbreaks. Furthermore, they have been in the spotlight for the past 24 months, helping a society navigate through COVID-19 and out of lockdowns.
The pandemic led to a rapid change in public sentiments over a short span of time. People expressed sentiments of joy and gratitude toward good health, yet sadness and anger at the loss of life and stay at home orders.
It’s important to understand audience perception toward health-related content, and how your audience perceives the news you share or is shared about you. As the world turned to pharmaceutical companies for vaccines, heightened media coverage meant the public were listening, watching and paying more attention than ever before. This gave those companies the opportunity to redefine what they stand for.
Social media intelligence plays an important role in how audiences discover, research and share information about a brand or product. Pharmaceutical companies need to continue their connection with their audiences, through storytelling. With this, they can influence a positive narrative and maintain the positive shift in reputation.
During the pandemic, Pfizer dominated social media. On Twitter, Pfizer was the most mentioned company compared to other competitors during the same period. Conversations about the actual brand were not as popular as vaccines, yet social media buzz was inline with Pfizer's consequential milestones and notable events during the pandemic.
With company mentions of this calibre, there’s no denying the number of conversations involving pharmaceutical companies. Audiences are talking in an unfiltered manner. Whether it's about their credibility, reputation, or the effectiveness of treatments, there’s no escaping the global conversations about the pharmaceutical industry.
Companies cannot afford to ignore conversations that could influence their reputation. Rather than treating it as something beyond their control, using reputation management tools within a media intelligence platform can assist in rolling out a more effective and efficient comms strategies on both traditional and social media.
The power of audience perception
A recent study on Eczema & Atopic Dermatitis by our sister company, Pulsar, shows a topic that is considered an intensely private conversation, has since moved online. An analysis was performed on the relationship between influential figures and wider audiences.
The below chart shows what the engagement metrics look like for the 19 most-engaged with accounts describable as either dermatologist, esthetician, medical doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
From this chart it tells us dermatologists hold authority in this conversation with three of the highest engagement tallies originating from dermatology accounts. This suggests their audience trust their expertise and are favourably perceived.
The above chart shows a comparison analysis on audiences engaging in conversations around both eczema/atopic dermatitis and medicalised skincare on Twitter. This is set against the more general eczema/atopic dermatitis conversation over the same period (Sept 2020 - Oct 2022).
Healthcare professionals remain a significant presence. Viewing the two audiences alongside each other:
Young black communities cohere into the single largest community.
LGBTQ+ communities emerge as a far greater presence in the wider conversation.
From this study, we can see there is a seamless loop between conversation analysis and audience segmentation. This allows for a dynamic view of how each community talks about a topic differently.
3 pillars to consider when repairing brand reputation
1. Be active and engaged on your social networks to help control the conversations. Turning the mythology around can be difficult, but with a compelling or positive evergreen story, it can change the perception audiences have about your company.
2. Monitor what is being said. Negative news gets more attention. This creates unwanted negative conversations and commentary. Tracking analytics, such as media mentions, share of voice and media outlets with a media intelligence solution allows you to keep a vigilant eye on the type of media coverage you’re receiving. When repairing a negative reputation, at least 35% of the company’s share of voice should involve company representatives.
3. Create a recovery roadmap to deliver on business improvements. Be transparent and authentic when it comes to communicating to customers and stakeholders. This will help with rebuilding trust and repairing your reputation.
When a company needs to repair their reputation there is a need to use sources of traditional and social media. These will form the pillars of their repair strategy. These pillars can support a comms strategy with real-time data, identifying what's working and what isn’t.