NewsWhip Knows What's Trending Even Before it Is

News organizations fight to be first and brag about it. But there is an even better tradition of jumping on the fastest bandwagon, which in the online news and video business means catching on to what’s trending with tastemakers.

In a digital/algorithmic age, the answer to “What’s happening” is always, “What time is it?”

One of the leading companies that helps publishers know what’s happening online--so they can plan/panic accordingly--is NewsWhip. Its product Spike monitors in finicky detail, moment by moment, what content and video is being shared and what’s breaking online.

Spike can help predict which way the trendoid wind is blowing.

The analytics can be split any way, and NewsWhip says with some confidence that it can predict what is rising to the level of newsworthy rapidly and correctly.

Cofounder and CEO Paul Quigley, who splits time between the company’s two home bases in Dublin and New York, calls NewsWhip “a digital tool to help publishers spot what’s happening.”  It also charts the hottest sites, as measured monthly by the number of shares on Facebook. Good job, Huffington Post!

On the NewsWhip Web site, it touts Spike which “lets you sort stories by their predicted social interactions to take the guesswork out of what’s pushing the needle on social.

“For one hour old stories, our forecasts are, on average, accurate to within +/-21% of the predicted score. For three hour old stories, our forecasts are, on average, accurate to within +/-12% of the predicted score,” the Web site blog reports. All of that data is reported on monitors in subscribing newsrooms.

“Steve Rubel [the chief content strategist for the Edelman public relations firm] calls us ‘Moneyball for media.’ “ Quigley says and that sounds about right.  

Learning what’s popping is why public relations firms get NewsWhip software. It’s also why publishers--like Hearst, BuzzFeed, the Los Angeles Times and dozens more--use NewsWhip. Altogether, Quigley says NewsWhip has 280 clients, evenly split between the the United States and Europe, where it started. The residents at 10 Downing Street use NewsWhip.

Quigley wanted to be a journalism back in Ireland, but his parents steered him toward a career that actually pays money. He became a lawyer, but even then he realized attorneys spent a lot of time “doing drudge work” on cases instead of working on more brilliant strategies.

That time saving, he says, is what’s behind NewsWhip, which started as a service for journalists rather than the companies that employ them. It grew from there.

NewsWhip is branching out with nonpublishing clients. MasterCard, for example, is a customer.

“They want to be influential in certain areas, to be thought-leaders people turn to, so they might want to know everything that’s happening in payment security for items they may post on their blog,” he says. “It’s kind of blending with marketing.”

Not long ago, Starbucks used NewsWhip to discover what everybody online was thinking about iced coffee so it could be on top of the conversation.

Of course, there are surprising ups and downs in the viral news sharing business.  There are the usual suspects. Pet stories always have a good shot at going viral. “It’s not all dogs and cats,” Quigley says about the NewsWhip business. “But on the other hand, it’s a lot of that.”

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