TitleMedia Tracking & Analysis/Media List Management Service Agreement Request Date2012-12-05
DepartmentBobcat Athletics KUSM Museum of the Rockies MSU Alumni Foundation University Communications EmailRep. for participants
RequestorThomas Calcagni Phone#2342
Campuses Bozeman Billings Havre Great Falls FSTS Extension MAES
Cross Depts Bobcat Athletics, MSU Exention, KUSM, Museum of the Rockies, MSU Alumni Foundation and University Communications
Proposed Dates Start: February 1 2013 End:  
This proposal is for a subscription to an online media tracking & analysis, and media list management service for Montana State. MSU University Communications, Bobcat Athletics, MSU Extension, MSU Alumni Foundation, KUSM and Museum of the Rockies have aligned to propose this service that will enhance our collective ability to reach national media outlets, measure media exposure and allow us to strategically place stories that promote the excellence of Montana State and its affiliated organizations. By improving the university’s strategic communications capabilities, MSU will enhance its reputation as a first-rate, land-grant institution.
The organizations participating in this proposal are responsible for articulating and protecting MSU’s brand identity and enhancing MSU’s visibility and reputation. As a result, the communications activities of these units and affiliated organizations are intricately woven throughout the objectives of the MSU Strategic Plan. While these activities may not be delineated in the plan, they are, nonetheless, imperative to the plan’s success. Unquestionably, most of the goals and metrics in the plan are admirable in and of themselves. The power of these accomplishments, however, will be magnified many times when they are strategically communicated to the news media and other MSU target audiences by the partners in this proposal.

Specifically, this proposal supports two Strategic Plan objectives. The first is “Objective I.1: Increase the integration of learning, discovery and engagement.” This objective fully embodies the tripartite mission of Montana’s land-grant university which the sponsors of this proposal actively support through aggressive, creative and cost-effective communications activities each and every day of the year.

The second is “Objective D.1: Elevate the research excellence and recognition of MSU faculty.” This objective, which is part of MSU’s goal to “…raise its national and international prominence in research, innovation and scholarly achievement, and thereby fortify the university’s standing as one of the nation’s leading public research universities,” also is essential to the fulfillment of MSU’s educational mission.
Funding Type: One-Time Only Funding Base (3-yr Recurring) Funding
  FY13 FY14 FY15 Base ($) OTO Startup ($)   FTE;
Materials & Supplies              
Contracted Services       40000       
Other Operations              
TOTAL 40000     
Please comment, if necessary, regarding cost and requirements.

The $40,000 total for base funding includes approximately $7000 for a part-time analyst to assist the proposal partners organize data and to provide a monthy report to senior university officials.

Describe the Proposal

Strategic communications affect the overall brand reputation of Montana State University and impact every college, unit and affiliated organization of the university.  Montana State and its affiliate organizations are the subject of a significant number of news articles, broadcast reports, blog posts, media mentions and social media conversations each year.  Currently, MSU does not employ a media monitoring system to evaluate the extent and value of the news coverage the university receives from regional and national media.  University Communications and MSU’s affiliated organizations rely primarily on Google Search to track mentions of the university in the news media and online, and on Google Analytics to measure the number of readers who visit MSU’s website.  Unfortunately, these free services do not provide a complete picture of the depth and breadth of MSU’s presence in the news or social media.  More importantly, they do not offer baseline data and information necessary to make sophisticated media decisions in a noisy, complex and competitive information marketplace.  Nor do these services allow for the identification of key journalists with whom MSU could develop advantageous professional relationships or for the creation of targeted media lists of journalists in media markets outside of Montana or in specific niche areas. 

If this proposal were approved, MSU University Communications and Bobcat Athletics, as well as the MSU Alumni Foundation, MSU Extension KUSM and the Museum of the Rockies, would have access to essential communications intelligence that could determine the true extent, monetary value and editorial tone of MSU’s earned media coverage.  If approved, it also would significantly contribute to the expansion of MSU’s presence in the news media and on the Internet. 

This proposal recommends the execution of a service agreement for an online media tracking and analysis, and media list management service.  This service would allow the partners in this proposal to better align with the objectives of the MSU Strategic Plan and to make more strategic decisions with regard to media and affinity group relations.  Each unit and affiliate organization named in this proposal would have unlimited access to the service.  The ways in which the service would benefit the participants include, but are not limited to:

  • Monitoring the usage of MSU communications messages and materials by media organizations throughout the United States and abroad;
  • Measuring MSU’s media presence against those of “competitors;”
  • Evaluating the overall editorial tone of MSU media coverage and online conversations about the university;
  • Determining the “advertising equivalency” value of earned media coverage to assess the ROI of specific communications activities and the overall monetary value communications activities contribute to MSU;
  • Developing baseline data to assess the value and impact of future communications initiatives;
  • Identifying potential threats to MSU’s reputation online and in the news media before they become a “crisis;”
  • Searching reporters by publication, geography or specialty using NLP (Natural Language Processing) to identify each journalist’s unique coverage areas;
  • Targeting and ranking journalists who are most likely to respond favorably to a news release or story “pitch;”
  • Creating a detailed database of journalists, editors and bloggers that includes a full profile and contact information.

In addition to the annual subscription fee for the service, University Communications would employ a part-time data analyst to supplement reports created by the proposal partners and to prepare reports for senior university officials. 

Describe the broader impacts and benefits of this proposal

In Michael Lewis’s Moneyball, Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane had to find a way to win in the major leagues with a budget that was smaller than that of almost every other team in professional baseball.  With the use of analytical data and, admittedly, a little luck, Beane turned the A’s into a championship team.  And, in the wake of his success, he transformed the way professional baseball teams are managed.  Analytics also are changing the face of communications and public relations.  Online tracking and analysis services are becoming commonplace at corporations, nonprofit organizations and, yes, universities.  A small sampling of public universities that employ these types of analytics include; Arizona State University, Auburn University, Baylor University, California State University, Colorado State University, Florida State University, Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, South Dakota State University and Oregon State University.

By employing an online media tracking and analysis service at the National Office of the American Automobile Association, AAA Public Relations increased the value of its earned media to more than one billion dollars annually.  A media tracking and analysis, and media list management service would allow University Communications, Bobcat Athletics, the MSU Alumni Foundation, the Museum of the Rockies and KUSM to operate more strategically and tactically by providing communications staff with actionable data and information.  This could range from the names and contact information of journalists who are reporting on higher education throughout the United States to an analysis of the overall tone of MSU’s news coverage throughout Montana and from electronic news and social media “clippings” that could help MSU manage a crisis better to the advertising equivalency value of MSU earned media placements. 

MSU needs a media tracking and analysis, and media list management service to raise the “level of its game” and to communicate in the best ways possible the ongoing emergence of MSU as a national university. 

Implementation Plan

Phase 1: Develop needs assessment and requirements for the media tracking & analysis, and media list management software.  This would begin immediately upon notification of proposal approval.  Phase 1 should take approximately two to four weeks.

Phase 2: Publish and process Request for Proposals (RFPs).  Phase 2 will take approximatel two months to develop and execute.

Phase 3: Product purchase and implementation.  This process will likely take up to six weeks.

Phase 4: Conduct training of proposal participant representatives and part-time data analyst.  Phase 4 should take about two weeks to complete.

Phase 5: Develop reporting templates and create individual media lists for proposal participants.  Phase 5 will require about 4 weeks to fully complete.

Phase 6: Integrate data into participant communications operations (ongoing)

Phase 7: Continual assessment of system value to participant communications efforts. (onoing) 


Assessment Plan

Critical Success Factors:

1.  Must be able to track the value of earned media news coverage and conversations involving MSU in the blogosphere and in other social media channels.

2.  Must be able to analyze the tone of media coverage and online conversations about MSU.

3.  Must be able to identify supporters and detractors of MSU in the media and online in order to facilitate the development of relationships with these key influencers.

4. Must be able to create media lists and provide a platform for sending news releases and other communications to journalists and online contributors.

5. Must be able to adapt to and evolve with emerging technologies and changing communications needs.


1. Determination of the monetary value associated with media coverage and online communications activities in Montana, in the region and nationally generatd by MSU and its affiliated organizations.

2. Trends of media coverage about MSU in key target markets and on topics of particular interest to the university.

3.  The number of students, alumni and community members engaged in conversations about MSU and/or its affiliated organizations.

4.  The number and value of the relationships MSU staff develop with influencers online and in the news media.


If assessed objectives are not met in the timeframe outlined what is the plan to sunset this proposal?

Should the investment in a media tracking & analysis, and media list management service be evaluated poorly, the contract with the service provider would be allowed to expire or be cancelled.

Executive/VP: Kiah Abbey (