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Research Tools for Media Relations Practice

Identify and use research tools for:

  • Media scanning
  • Organizational research
  • Issues analysis
  • Media List creation

Survey - How do You get your News?

Researching Organizations, Audiences and Issues

Tracking media on your organization and issues:

Boolean operators connect your search words together to either narrow or broaden your set of results.

The three basic boolean operators are: ANDOR, and NOT.

Why use Boolean operators?

  • To focus a search, particularly when your topic contains multiple search terms.
  • To connect various pieces of information to find exactly what you're looking for.
  • Example:
    second creation (title) AND wilmut and campbell (author) AND 2000 (year)
Using AND

Use AND in a search to:

  • narrow your results
  • tell the database that ALL search terms must be present in the resulting records
  • example: cloning AND humans AND ethics

The purple triangle in the middle of the Venn diagram below represents the result set for this search. It is a small set using AND, the combination of all three search words.

Be aware:  In many, but not all, databases, the AND is implied. 

  • For example, Google automatically puts an AND in between your search terms.
  • Though all your search terms are included in the results, they may not be connected together in the way you want.
  • For example, this search:  college students test anxiety  is translated to:  college AND students AND test AND anxiety. The words may appear individually throughout the resulting records.
  • You can search using phrases to make your results more specific.
  • For example:  "college students" AND "test anxiety". This way, the phrases show up in the results as you expect them to be.
Using OR

Use OR in a search to:

  • connect two or more similar concepts (synonyms)
  • broaden your results, telling the database that ANY of your search terms can be present in the resulting records
  • example: cloning OR genetics OR reproduction

All three circles represent the result set for this search. It is a big set because any of those words are valid using the OR operator.

Using NOT

Use NOT in a search to:

  • exclude words from your search
  • narrow your search, telling the database to ignore concepts that may be implied by your search terms
  • example:  cloning NOT sheep

Boolean searching content by the MIT Libraries, CC BY-NC 4.0

Social Media Tracking Tools

Advanced Twitter Searching Tips

[search term] Filter:news

[search term] Filter:retweets

[search term] Near:[location]

[search term] Within:[distance]

To:[handle] from:[handle]

[search term] Since:[date]

[search term] Until:[date]

[search term] min_faves: [number]

[search term] min_retweets:[number]

[search term] :-)

[search term] :-(

[keyword] AND


#westjet filter:news

from:nenshi filter:retweets

#plasticfree near:Calgary

to:@nenshi since:2020-12-01 until:2021-01-10

To:@westjet :-(

"Rachel notley" -from:rachelnotley -@rachelnotley

[keyword] AND

In-Class Activity

Class Activity:

Work in groups of 2 or 3 to review this press release, conduct a scan of the media coverage, and answer the following questions.

  1. Using the MRU Library news databases, find at least three news outlets that are reporting it. 

    • What database or tool did you use to locate these sources?

  2. Briefly scan the coverage on Twitter. Is it mostly positive or negative? What is the nature of the reaction?

    • What particular groups, interests, and perspectives do you see?

  3. What aspects of the company's messaging are being highlighted, left out, or amplified in the media coverage?

  4. If you were the PR professional at this company, what could you learn from this media coverage? What additional research should you do in light of this coverage?

  5. Find a journalist covering this story. Do they post on social media? What kind of stories to they cover?

Share your answers on a Google Slide (link to the slide deck below).

Explore related Subject Guides

Essential Guides

Get tips, tools and strategies for news searching, scanning and evaluating media from these guides by First Draft.

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