“Spike helps us understand where our audience is coming from."

Company size: 25-50 employees
Industry: Niche Digital Publishing
Eric Pickhartz, Managing Editor
CHALLENGE: How do you sift through thousands of sites to find the stories that will unite your widespread niche audience?

 

Wide Open Spaces are the perfect example of a regional publisher tapping into niche topics to activate their loyal followers. As a media company made to appeal to Heartland residents, with interests in hunting, fishing, wildlife, and the great outdoors in general, Wide Open Media strives to find the special-interest stories that their audience can’t find anywhere else.

 

Eric Pickhartz, Managing Editor of Wide Open Spaces, said the core of their publishing strategy is unifying their widespread audience behind core common interests and values.

"We want to deliver Texas news to a Texan. But this outdoor world is pretty universal. News out of a state, no matter how far away, will still be interesting to an outdoorsman or someone interested in wildlife."

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Eric Pickhartz, Managing Editor
Wide Open Spaces

But tracking national stories, and filtering out the tidbits that will be interesting to Wide Open Spaces’ audience is no easy feat. Keeping track of all the stories bubbling up across social networks was near impossible, and understanding which would be successful was even more difficult.

"We were looking for something that took us a step beyond Google Alerts and used social data — We wanted to get something that would show how well content is doing but also how it is shared.“

Eric Pickhartz, Managing Editor
Wide Open Spaces

Eric brought on NewsWhip Spike after seeing the central view of story performance across all social networks, and the ability for his team to customize their own dashboard and alerts for their specific beats.

"We chose Spike for our needs because it was something we were able to let multiple users on the team use and customize for themselves. We set up alerts through Spike and have barely had to tweak them because they give such great daily aggregations of the things we’re looking for — based on keywords and other specific things we’ve plugged in.“

Eric Pickhartz, Managing Editor
Wide Open Spaces

Eric said Spike has become an integral part of their team’s workflow, helping them source stories for each of the verticals they cover, and use hard data to predict how content will play with their audience.

"We engage audiences using a combination of the data Spike offers and our own curation. The velocity metric Spike offers is awesome and helps editors choose things based on performance.

Being able to drill down through keywords or specific sources that we know are readers are following helps us determine what they’ll be into.“

Eric Pickhartz, Managing Editor
Wide Open Spaces

Though Wide Open Spaces strives to appeal to readers in a variety of states, they look mainly for the stories that will appeal to core interests across the regions they cover — and use Spike to curate long lists of possible ideas from a variety of states and cities. Spike covers hundreds of thousands of sites, allowing Eric and his team to sift through niche sites to find the stories their audience wants to see.

 

With all of this information and performance data in one place, the Wide Open Spaces team has saved time and effort finding and packaging the best content for their readers.

"Spike has clearly been the number one tool we use. Tools like Spike drill through all of these hunting forums and wildlife commissions and find this wild, crazy news.


It’s great when I see something performing on Spike, hear one of our writers pitch it out, and get it up on the site really quickly. I can see the cycle making us more efficient.“

Eric Pickhartz, Managing Editor
Wide Open Spaces

Above all, Spike gives Eric and the Wide Open Spaces team the sources and data they need to make informed decisions on what to publish that day. Using Spike, Eric said his team are able to better understand their followers and what they will respond well to. With that information, they’re enabled to make better content decisions.

"Spike helps us understand where our audience is coming from. Being able to drill down through keywords or specific sources that we know our readers are also following helps us determine what they’ll be into – and what they’ll be willing to share.“

Eric Pickhartz, Managing Editor
Wide Open Spaces

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