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We talk to Alexia Fountain and Louise Smith about how their work tracking, reporting and analysing maritime media coverage for Saltwater Stone clients facilitates the creation of better future strategies.

“By clearly demonstrating the effects of particular communications and marketing activities, we help clients make informed decisions about future spending,” says Alexia. “It’s a service that’s always been really important but it can take a lot of time that many marketing teams don’t have.”

“However, accurate reporting and knowledge of the reach of previous campaigns is vital if you want to make the best decisions going forward. Properly evaluating and understanding where PR campaigns have been successful and where coverage could be greater, enables the formulation of better strategies for the future.”

Louise explains the cuttings service she and Alexia provide for Saltwater Stone clients ensures accountability, helping marketing teams to justify their spend by showing clear breakdowns of where and when coverage has appeared. And, as well as showing how effective campaigns have been, it helps highlight areas for future improvement.

“If there are gaps where we haven’t succeeded in achieving as much coverage as hoped, this is flagged up and allows us to approach particular publications to find out what we can do to improve,” says Louise. “For example, an editor may be able to suggest ways in which we can tailor content specifically to meet their current requirements, or may recommend future opportunities for submissions.”

Much of the work, searching through a wide array of international yachting, commercial shipping and superyacht titles, can be extremely time-consuming. But the Saltwater team constantly keep on top of this, so clients don’t have to, and tailor reporting to specific requirements.

“All clients who sign up to our cuttings service receive a monthly report,” says Louise. “But some like to request more specific reporting, including feedback after each piece of communication goes out, in addition to quarterly and end of year reports.

“Then, for some clients, we put together key metrics so they can see at a glance three things that stand out for them that month, as well as coverage from press releases and click through data from these releases. And all coverage is uploaded onto CoverageBook, so it is there for them to view.”

Saltwater Stone developed its own in-house coverage service to cater to the niche maritime market in which it operates. “Having looked into outside agencies for coverage reporting,” comments Alexia, “we found there were none that properly assessed many maritime publications. It’s quite difficult to find someone who will look at these specialist titles that we know so well and have long-term knowledge of.”

Increasingly, much of Alexia and Louise’s work goes into assessing online coverage and they are seeing a trend with titles increasingly moving towards digital formats. They have developed a robust process for continued monitoring during the lockdown period and have also been using this time to research and understand the changing world of media.

While they make use of reporting software which estimates figures such as potential online lifetime views and average domain authority, specialist insight is also required for niche sites. “Some software will give low scores to specialist publications and cannot accurately take into account the fact that these are the main authorities in the specific markets our clients wish to target,” notes Louise.

“On top of this, we have a list of online newsletters and websites we check each month to see if our clients have got coverage. We actively go and look for these because some don’t always show up in searches but will be sent out to a valuable list of subscribers working in the target sector,” Alexia adds.

“Without making use of a media monitoring service, it’s much more difficult and time consuming for marketing teams to prove where their PR budget is going.”