The importance of media monitoring for Life Sciences during COVID-19 and beyond

Polecat and InfoDesk have partnered together to bring you this review on the importance of media monitoring in the time of COVID-19 and into the future. All of the images used throughout this blog have been sourced through RepVault, Polecat’s Reputation Monitoring Software.

COVID-19 has dominated… everything… over the last 3 months. At the risk of reusing a tired comparison; it has been suggested that this has been the single most impactful event, globally, since World War 2. The crisis has thrown a particular spotlight on the life science industry. From a wider interest in supply chain shortages, to research and development, to clinical trials, and everything in between. The public is paying closer attention to the industry as a whole. 

The enforcement of social distancing worldwide has changed the way in which healthcare professionals are seeking information from the public. COVID-19 conversations on social media alone have increased 1,000% among healthcare professionals and 2,500% among consumers from January 1 to March 19 2020. The virus has been the primary topic of conversation, dominating around 83% of online reputation discussions for the top 20 global healthcare companies.

In this blog, InfoDesk and Polecat discuss three key ways that the life science industry can look to harness the value of media monitoring during this crisis and beyond.

1: Reputation and sentiment

The first of the lenses through which we consider the benefits of media monitoring for life science companies is reputation and sentiment. In the age of social media and blogging, where every individual has a soapbox from which to make their opinions heard, never have organizations needed to more closely monitor their reputational standings. 

It is critical that companies are monitoring their organization’s impact across information in the public domain – particularly during a time of crisis. Using RepVault, Polecat’s reputation monitoring software to analyze the top 20 healthcare companies’ impact throughout the pandemic gives a great insight into why this is so important. 

Gilead Sciences has held a leading position in the Covid-19 discussion – as they have earned the largest reputation impact score – due largely to the high level of coverage around the use of Remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19. The graph also shows Abbott Laboratories featured very strongly in the Covid-19 discussion, as a result of their blood testing capabilities, while J&J appeared near the top because of their growing role in building a Covid-19 vaccine.

However, impact is not enough in isolation. It is essential that organizations can not just understand the impact, but also the sentiment of that impact when building a complete picture of their reputational standing.

If viewed in isolation (without sentiment analysis) Apple would believe that between March 30 and April 9 there was a large increase in their overall reputational impact. Whereas, when viewed alongside Polecat’s sentiment analysis which categorizes conversations automatically, companies can see if they are driving a net-positive or net-negative profile when it comes to key issues.

What’s more, it’s also critical that organizations can access this information in a timely fashion to successfully respond to it before it snowballs. Companies must manage negative sentiment issues through proactive communications, stakeholder engagement, and operational or policy changes. Oftentimes once something has ‘gone viral’ (of which there are many definitions) it is too late to control – so the ability to be alerted in real-time to the changing dynamics can give an organization capacity to react to unfolding events – positive or negative in sentiment – effectively. 

2: Key Drivers and Emerging Trend

Companies can use this type of monitoring to not only measure their overall performance, but also dig into the key topic areas that are most important in driving good reputation outcomes. Social media is nothing if not a barometer of collective opinions and ideas. When harnessed adequately, it can be used to identify what people are talking about and how they are talking about it. This information can then be presented alongside a wider array of information sources including financial information; Bloomberg and The Financial Times, life science updates like FiercePharma and Pink Sheet, and much more. 

To illustrate our point, here’s an example of the most impactful issues within Top Healthcare companies between March 1 and May 26, 2020:

Financial performance and philanthropy are the most impactful drivers of COVID-19 performance for these healthcare companies. Financial performance conversations are centered around earnings and shareholder performance for these companies due to the expected economic downturn from COVID-19. Philanthropy is driven by many corporate giving announcements such as Sanofi’s large donations of Hydroxochlorquine, or BMS’s donation of PPE equipment

But looking ahead it would seem that other topics are starting to emerge as more important elements of the COVID-19 discussion. Companies should know the behavior and trajectory of topics and issues over time to get a sense of what things might be coming into view and ensure that the business is prepared to respond as best as possible. In the chart above we can see that discussions around ‘supply chain’, and ‘recession / economic stimulus’ have been relatively volatile, and thus important but perhaps more stable elements within the COVID-19 discussion. Geo-Politics as a topic (particularly conversations around the future relationship of the United States and Europe with China) has the profile of something that is likely to become a major issue for health sciences companies in the coming months to years.

This level of analysis is a critical success factor for organizations who are looking to identify, and crucially, respond to changes in industry trends. To be able to analyze and respond to a changing landscape is the difference between succeeding in a time of upheaval and being left behind. Never has this been more true than during a crisis. It’s not just about having that information however, it’s also about having that information in the hands of those who need it most, in a format that best suits their needs. This targeted information delivery can facilitate the necessary strategic decision-making for the most effective crisis management and response.

3: Competitive benchmarking

The prevalence of digital media also provides an opportunity to monitor your organization’s reputation in direct comparison to your competition. Traditionally organizations would rely on polling, focus groups, or other methods that can be slightly contrived or slow in building a response to discern their standing in comparison to their competitions. COVID-19 may have changed this reliance by paving the way for the rapid adoption of more real-time channels. 

Here’s an example of two of the titans of modern head-to-head competition. Apple and Samsung, and their respective reputational impacts over the last 180 days. Apple has dwarfed Samsung with over 80% of the impact in that timeframe. Yet, when you delve further into the data it becomes clear that although they have been mentioned much more often, a large portion of that attention has been negative. All publicity is good publicity, right? That’s an argument for a different day. The point is, that this level of competitive comparison is still possible – even more effective –  because of the ability for organizations to monitor their digital impact… digitally.

But, to accurately measure your company’s performance you need to view it in the right context. This means building a benchmarking portfolio to evaluate whether you are in-line with your peers or competitors as a collective, rather than just on a one-to-one basis. The benefit of this type of analysis becomes apparent in the example below which compares the top 20 healthcare companies (anonymized) and how their reputations have shifted in response to their crisis management.

This analysis enables an organization to get a completely unaffected and genuine analysis of their respective performances and reputational standing in a time where the more traditional methods have been rendered impossible. While the need for it may have become more obvious because of COVID-19, the effectiveness will outlast the pandemic. 


COVID-19 has thrown into the spotlight how critical media monitoring is for organizations trying to navigate a crisis. Yet it has also accelerated the adoption and transformation of some of these companies seeking to actively monitor and understand their landscape during this time. 

While monitoring reputation is a critical factor in ensuring your organization can reasonably navigate a crisis, it isn’t the sole factor that needs to be considered. The situation that has been created by the pandemic requires Life Science organizations to be across a much deeper pool of information than ever before. A solution that offers the capacity to monitor all of this in real-time, and deliver it to those in your organization who need it the most is critical in ensuring you can stay ahead in both this volatile landscape and in futureproofing your organization for the lasting effects of the pandemic.

Polecat and InfoDesk have partnered together to bring you this review on the importance of media monitoring in the time of COVID-19 and into the future. Paul Orovan, Head of Sales at Polecat Intelligence, commented, “We are thrilled to partner with InfoDesk. Combining our next generation digital reputation insights and monitoring capabilities with InfoDesk’s ability to augment human experts with the latest in AI technology, ensures we can provide our clients real-time analysis and evaluation of a company’s performance in this time of uncertainty and beyond.”

To assist during this time Polecat is offering a 2-week free issues-tracking trial to RepVault, their leading reputation monitoring software. Sign up here

Similarly, InfoDesk is providing a complimentary weekly intelligence briefing to help you cut through the noise surrounding COVID-19 and find the insights that you need most. Subscribe here