7 ways to become a more effective media analyst

Some personalities are ready-made for this vocation, but you can cultivate traits and habits to help you distill data and bring them to life through storytelling. Here’s what you should know.

Some might call us “stalkers,” because we continually and willfully follow things, but I prefer “media analyst.”

Unlike stalkers, the only thing we harass is bad media analysis and measurement—which raises the question: “What makes a good media analyst?”

To borrow a concept from motivational guru Stephen Covey, I believe it’s down to seven habits. These seven habits of the highly effective media analyst will help you succeed:

1. Start with the right personality type.

Anyone can be a media analyst, but my experience suggests certain personality profiles lend themselves to our work. (We put the “anal” into the word “analyst.”)

Using the Myers-Briggs personality profiles, for example, people defined as “Defenders” are characterized by having excellent analytic and judgment skills. “Consuls” are social animals who get on with other people.

These types match the profiles of my media analysis colleagues. A quick-fire evaluation of your team’s personality profiles might back up my theory that it takes a certain type of person to make a great media analyst.

That’s not to say media analysts must adhere to these profiles, but it does seem to be a good idea to align people’s natural dispositions with the core skills of media analytics.

2. Be more of a librarian.

Some people don’t discover until the third year of undergraduate life that the university library has an upstairs. Analyst types are upstairs from day one. They marvel in the ability to find a book so easily in such a huge place. (Remember those little wooden drawers and the index cards inside?) Everything was filed away in the right location, correctly labeled and placed in a logical order.

A successful media analyst understands the importance of:

  • Storing data or archiving media coverage data for easy access
  • Logical file names or folders for categorizing content digitally
  • Consistency when classifying or coding media coverage

3. Embrace change.

Not long ago, media analysts’ tools consisted of a ruler and scissors. Yes, computing power has brought us great advantages—and the potential to do away with many time-consuming tasks.

That dynamic will open new opportunities and ways of doing things. Change is non-negotiable, so don’t fear it. We’ve come a long way in media analytics, and we have much further to go.

4. Respect data quality.

Don’t compare apples with pears. Great media analysts develop a sense of what rings true, the quality of the data and how they fit into a wider data landscape.

5. Forget Word; learn to love Excel.

This might sound nerdy (OK, it is nerdy): I love Excel.

Imagine having a servant that can do all sorts of extra-complicated stuff, such as relieving the tedium of number crunching. That’s what Excel does. Use it, play with it, and don’t be afraid to try new things every day. The buttons you never use have a function—they could save you time, money or worry.

6. Be a data storyteller.

Your data are not numbers that exist in isolation. They relate to a wider significance. They have a story to tell. It’s your job to help them explain why they are either unimportant or important. Great media analysts are not number crunchers; they are ace storytellers.

7. Use tools like the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework.

You expect James Bond to drive an Aston Martin. Media analysts have their own super tools to enable them to do their jobs to their best ability. No one in media analytics is alone with great tools like the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework to help them. The whole AMEC website is a wealth of amazing content and professional development, and organizations such as the UK Government Communication Service are open to sharing best practices and techniques.

Learn to use, respect and share: The more we can use these tools—to replace AVEs and other false measures—the more our industry and the role of media analysts will grow.

Steph Bridgeman is a media measurement and insight specialist and a self-confessed chart junkie. A version of this article first appeared on The Measurement Standard.


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