As the President of North America & Global CRO of NewsWhip, Brett Lofgren has seen the challenges facing the comms industry. With the pace of the news cycle accelerating and audiences becoming more fragmented, communications professionals need access to faster, more detailed insights to help inform their engagement strategies.
While many in the industry are using social media monitoring or analytics tools, many of the services available in the market are reactive, only focusing on what’s already happened.
“If you look at the media monitoring space today, a lot of the existing tools aren’t fit for purpose because they’re focused on what’s happened in the past or in the last campaign,” says Lofgren. “There is an increasing need to understand what’s happening in real time, which is our specialty.”
An increasing number of organizations and industries are recognizing NewsWhip’s value, including McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Ogilvy, Axios, SC Johnson, Walmart, ABInBev and more. These companies, among many others, are turning to real-time tools to engage audiences and monitor potential issues that could hurt their brand.
Today, some of the world’s biggest brands and agencies use NewsWhip daily. Given the many pressures on these businesses, Lofgren can understand why. “Organizations are increasingly struggling to separate the signal from the noise,” he says. “There is a general gap when it comes to understanding how trends develop across all these different social networks and in publications.”
This gap can cause a lot of headaches for communications professionals. Many companies are too slow to react to issues threatening their interests and have trouble staying on top of those blink-and-you-miss-it opportunities that allow them to create meaningful touchpoints with their target audiences.
Organizations must get a sense of the potential impact or reach a story on social media might have before it’s reached its apex. Using NewsWhip to sift through real-time data to see how audiences engage with content, companies can predict the momentum around a story before it breaks into the mainstream news cycle. That immediacy, combined with actionable insights, contributed to a 70% increase in NewsWhip’s revenue from brands in 2022.
“The real-time predictive capabilities around topics like reputation are extremely important,” says Lofgren about why more companies are gravitating towards NewsWhip. The platform, he adds, is built for speed and focused on providing users with more context to understand the data provided by the platform. “Now they have data to inform the decision versus going off their gut.”
Compare that to other services that may send an alert sometime after a story is published on a specific topic. The challenge is that the alert only notes whether a story has been published, not whether it’s getting any traction. That context is essential, particularly for reputational management, says Lofgren.
With so much being said on social media, about large organizations in particular, teams need to know what issues to be more proactive on and which ones only need to be monitored. Understanding the sentiment or emotion behind those responses is just as vital to help organizations prioritize which issues and on which platforms they need to focus their attention.
By studying data from similar events, including those that may have affected a competitor, the organizations can gain additional insights to gauge their response. “We are very focused on delivering insights as quickly as possible in that initial window so our clients can understand what’s happening and react,” says Lofgren.
Even if your organization doesn’t want to be leading the conversation, you need to be aware of who is talking about your brand and the impact those discussions might have on your reputation, Lofgren notes.
Turning insights into action
Organizations continue to find new ways to leverage the NewsWhip platform. Beyond telling companies which topics are trending, the platform can also help businesses understand who’s leading the conversation, including which journalists have the best engagement on specific issues. “Brands will use us for earned media to figure out who they want to talk to,” Lofgren explains. A company, for instance, may try to pitch larger news organizations until they find out through NewsWhip that a smaller publication may help them get better reach.
When comms professionals combine social media engagement data with action, they see the platform’s true value. For instance, in February 2021, a rare blast of arctic air stretched deep into Texas, knocking out power to most of the state. Shortly after the storm hit, the insights team at Ford found that a little-known trunk generator feature built into their new hybrid F-150 pickups was being used to provide power to critical systems.
Using NewsWhip, Ford’s team saw people posting about the generator and that local media was picking up their stories. The company then rallied nearby dealerships to lend their PowerBoost F-150s to the community. The goodwill from this decision helped Ford dominate the news cycle.
In the year ahead, NewsWhip will continue to find strategic ways to expand its offering to enhance its “speed to insight,” explains Lofgren. It could soon pull in even more data from its social media partners, for example. “We want to make sure that we are not only adding data for the sake of it,” he says. “We want to make sure we’re adding valuable data that’s going to help our clients do their job better.”