In one minute on the internet 2.5M posts appear on Facebook, 1388 new blog posts are written, 100+ hours of video uploaded to YouTube, 278.000 Tweets are published on Twitter, 41.666 photos are published on Instagram. It would take you two and a half months only to read that. With Mediatoolkit, you will get notified immediately when you are mentioned.
The background and the team
How was the idea born, and what was the functionality of the platform when you launched?
We first started Mediatoolkit as a virality detection tool. The idea was to track various news outlets worldwide and detect trending topics, which would help journalists detect newsworthy events and stories. When discussing the useful features with our potential users, they expressed a need for something more similar to the media monitoring tool we are today. Hence, we developed a tool that is purely customer-centric and adapted to modern marketers and communicator’s needs.
How would you describe your first few years?
We could describe the first few years as exciting on the one hand and frightening on the other. Take note that while there are plenty of tech startups to learn from in startup centres like Silicon Valley, in Croatia, there was practically no one to learn from, nor was there an experienced talent pool to attract to our cause. It meant going through every step of the growth with a trial and error approach. Sure, we learned a lot from the international success stories, but at moments it felt like hitting a wall after wall.
What are your brand values?
We defined five company values: Community, Ownership, Transparency, Progress, Quality.
Do you have a flat or hierarchical company structure, and why?
The structure is hierarchical, but with the best practices from a flat structure mixed in. It’s hierarchical in a way that every employee has their direct superior who’s also in charge of their well-being and progress. At the same time, we care a lot about making sure every person can be heard, which is why we provide a lot of internal speaking opportunities and opportunities to question or challenge any business decisions, which is something more similar to a flat structure. Hierarchy doesn’t necessarily mean that only those in charge make the decisions. Leadership in Mediatoolkit is more about shouldering responsibilities so that the company performers could fully focus on improving themselves and come up with ideas to improve the company.
What are the essential skills that a good mentor has to have, and can you describe the concept of it?
We’re just starting an official mentorship program in Mediatoolkit, so we put a lot of thought into that. We concluded that primary conditions are the adequate seniority level, willingness to mentor, and good organisational skills. If those conditions are met, it’s up to a mentor and mentee to click and see if they’re a fit. There can always be a million reasons for a mentor and mentee not to see eye to eye. It’s important for us to not look at it as a failure on either side, but a simple mismatch. Mentorship only provides excellent results when both parties are looking forward to it, so we need to make it a positive experience, rather than just checking the box.
What do your people appreciate the most considering your company culture?
We defined our company values through workshops in which all of our employees participated, so we can say that all five of our company values are what the people appreciate and actively promote. Among the five, ‘community’, a value emphasising teamwork and connections made in a workplace took the highest number of votes and appreciations.
How do you recruit talent?
However we can. We prefer to employ talent from our pool of open applications. Still, at times we also source candidates, participate in job fairs, post job advertisements to social media, collaborate with universities, etc. The Croatian tech scene is still relatively small, so we pretty much try to be present among all the potential communication channels.
What are your key differentiators, product-wise?
We made an enterprise-grade media monitoring solution fit for small and medium-sized businesses. It means that while we offer high-computing power which effectively finds mentions from more than 100 million online sources, we kept the tool easy to use and affordable, so those small businesses can also benefit from a media monitoring solution.
Have you noticed how the world of media and news delivery changed and in which way, and how would you describe it?
Yes, it’s fascinating how fast the industry of media and media consumption is changing. We live in a world where virtually everyone is a content creator and publisher. The vast amount of data being shared each minute across the globe is impressive. Traditional media publishers suddenly have billions of competitors for consumers’ attention, which on the one hand drives them to produce more quality content, but on the other blurs the distinction between content creators and consumers.
And a change in readers’ behaviour?
Social media enabled two-way communication in media space, which today emphasises various social and political movements. We can take Black Lives Matter as an example. It’s a movement that heavily relies on the exchange of information (videos) publicly, online. Those directly influence further actions of protesters and media, creating a situation where reporting is an essential part of history in the making. The speed of information exchange heavily influences all the social movements, making them more unpredictable than ever.
As a company that monitors media, what would you like to see in the media scene locally and internationally?
More transparency and more open media space. The speed, as mentioned above, of information exchange, also has its influence on the spread of misinformation and fake news. The only way to take on that issue is for the media to open up more and make it easier to track the source of any information.
The tool and the future
Traditionally, PR experts used media monitoring services to track what was published. These days, with the growing implications of social networks, marketers are those who manage and utilise these platforms. Was it challenging to create the ‘sentiment’ segment, and how does it help with building a brand story?
Technically, just for the reason of the vast amount of data we handle in Mediatoolkit, none of the technical aspects can be considered easy. On the business side, on the other hand, marketers and communicators today are very open towards testing out new tools to help their business. Marketing is a highly competitive space, and any tool that can help gain an advantage is welcome. Sentiment analysis is one of those tools. It allows for a quick review of the way media reports on any of the brand-related keywords or issues. In previous times, it would take a team of linguists to manually go through mentions and tag their sentiment, after which a business or data analyst might go deeper into their reports and determine what is it that influenced a prevailing sentiment. Finally, it would be up to a marketer or communicator to find a way to implement those insights into a strategy. Now, all of those insights are just a click away, available to both, international corporations and local businesses.
What’s in your product roadmap for the coming period, that you can share?
We can’t share the future features, but I can say that we are doing some major upgrades to our infrastructure, which will allow us to enhance the experience of our customers in everyday operational activities as well as reporting.
Looking at the potential use cases, and the ways companies can use the Mediatoolkit, extends from the classic PR needs to the business development. What would you say companies think they know about themselves, but they don’t?
In our business, we mostly work with companies that already passed through the phase of overconfidence. Our clients reach out to us to learn more about the opportunities they are sure they are missing. And plain, unfiltered data is what usually does the trick of removing any type of personal bias company managers may have. For instance, it’s a regular occurrence PR managers downplay the significance of media outlets they or their inner circle don’t follow. Plain data on where mentions from those outlets end up can be a sobering experience.
How much your users impact your roadmap, and what is the selection criteria?
During our beginnings, we adapted our roadmap by users’ wishes and requests 100%. With time, we developed the expertise of our own on the media monitoring, PR, and marketing space, so more often than not, we show our users we can solve their needs even better than they thought was possible. We continuously gather user experiences and talk to our users to improve our product. Still, while we were previously asking them what solutions do they need, now we focus on the question of what their pain points are. It made a vast difference because very often, users themselves can’t express what they want, but they can tell what bothers them. Our experts think of solutions to that, and it’s up to a product manager to determine when the new feature could be developed.
You have clients across 105 countries, where would you say your most skilful users are coming from?
Geographically, it’s irrelevant. We aim for our tool to be simple enough to use for any level of experts, and we can’t segment those based on locality. On the other hand, it’s clear that for instance, marketing and PR agencies use more of our features than SMB brand managers. But the difference is based on the type of work they’re doing, not the skill itself.
How much (and if yes) COVID-19 impacted media monitoring?
So far, our experience has been that there has been little if any impact. The most important thing to us, of course, is the health and well-being of our team, which we did the best to protect with work from home policy. On the business side, while the pandemic created uncertain times for many companies, it also opened up opportunities in various industries. Nothing is certain yet, but we have reasons to be optimistic about the future.
Fun facts & mentions
Can you tell us what are the Croatia related terms or queries with most mentions in the last 12 months?
Among the highest recent spikes were queries related to COVID-19, as Croatia was among the countries determined safe to travel for tourism sometime in May. It was quite an interesting time, as at that time, all the borders were still closed, and we were expecting an awful crash of tourism in Croatia. But, at the same time, we maintained a fascinatingly low number of infected cases, which spread through the foreign media with advice to travel to Croatia as a COVID-19 free country.
Looking globally and the current pandemic, can we find out who wrote the most articles about it?
This pandemic brought an interesting phenomenon of every single media writing every single news in relation to the pandemic. It’s hard to say which media wrote the most about it. Still, if you look at the news from February till June, you’ll see that practically every news, whether about politics, sports or celebrities was at the same time also about the pandemic.
Which media outlet would have the highest influence score?
Influence score is based on more variables, so it can’t really be said that a particular media outlet is the best. Sure, outlets like The Forbes, Economist, CNN, or The Guardian will always be at the top of the list, but as the virality of an article is also evaluated, the actual influence for a specific topic may vary.