A Chat with Paul Quigley, Co-Founder and CEO at Media Monitoring Tool: NewsWhip

NewsWhip is the only real-time media monitoring platform that predicts the stories and topics that will matter in the hours ahead, giving communications professionals the clarity they need for quick and confident decisions.

The organisation aims to help brands, agencies and publishers to use media and public engagement data to make critical business decisions in a timely fashion. The NewsWhip platform is designed to enable publishers, agencies, and brands to better understand their audiences and how content will resonate with them.

The organisation specifically helps brands and agencies identify content that will help them tell their story, reach wider audiences, identify potential crises and opportunities, and respond in a proportionate way. Among Newswhip’s clients are Pepsi Co, Samsung, McDonald’s, Walmart, ABInBev, the Associated Press, Condé Nast and the Washington Post, along with NGOs such as Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières and the World Health Organisation.
Facebook Publishing: Q3 2021

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

Originally starting out as an online news media outlet for the everyday reader, NewsWhip was born out of a desire to bring a crossbreed between Gawker and The Phoenix to the Irish and UK news market. Soon after the idea was conceived, I purchased NewsWhip.com, NewsWhip.co.uk and NewsWhip.ie, and NewsWhip was born.

After several years living and working in New York, my objective was to return to Ireland and launch a digital media platform monetised through page views and ad placements. I recruited freelance writers to help develop and write content for the news website. They focused their attention on stories that were topical but weren’t being discussed or explained thoroughly enough, such as the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, the bailout of Irish banks and bondholders. After partnering with an ad network and placing ads on the new website, Newswhip attracted hundreds of thousands of views and readers to the site but I quickly realised the existing business model wasn’t sufficient for long term success.

At the time, in the early 2010s, the possibility for readers to instantly share news articles on social media was becoming an everyday occurrence. Through monitoring the metrics on Newswhip’s own stores, I had a “eureka” moment, where I recognised the value of these sharing figures, which were comparable to sales figures of traditional print titles. Practically overnight, I shuttered the site’s publishing arm and set about creating a schematic and APIs that could harness the power of these insights.

Earlier in life, I had a brief spell in mechanical engineering, which enabled me to think in a structured way about designing and building the new NewsWhip platform.

After initially trying to develop the coding himself, I partnered with my co-founder Andrew Mullaney (no longer a part of Newswhip), coding and IT expert.

Together we designed and built the new platform, with the capability to aggregate all social engagement data for any online article, refresh the search every 30 minutes and observe the rate of change in engagement. Finally, the data insights would be displayed in one place on a simple dashboard. In 2011 the updated NewsWhip platform was launched.

Initially launched as a free website where users could go and see what was trending online at any given time, the company morphed after receiving a finance injection and a mobile phone app was developed. The focus shifted from consumer usage to a B2B model, as it became clear the influence that social media trends could have on a news story and its aftermath. As social media platforms evolved into societal sources of news, NewsWhip’s business model evolved alongside them.

In 2014, NewsWhip carried out a publicity stunt that applied the site’s unique API to draft a newspaper front page based on the traction and performance of articles from the previous day’s paper. The social experiment portrayed a significant contrast in the way the media depicts readers, but little difference in the most popular stories across the various titles.

Today, the Newswhip team is made up of over 60 employees, based in Ireland and the US. By the end of 2022, the company aims to grow the team through further recruitment, secure more global brands as clients and announce an additional funding investment. NewsWhip is used daily by thousands of journalists and communicators across 80 countries and counting to predict the news, unpack crises and issues, and better understand which stories are engaging audiences on a global and local scale. NewsWhip is backed by the Associated Press and counts major news organizations, Fortune 500 Brands and global NGOs as clients, as well as the top ten global PR agencies. These include Pepsi, Samsung, Walmart, McDonald’s, Anheuser-Busch InBev (Budweiser), WHO, tracking daily covid information, and more.
NewsWhip generated revenue of $9 million in 2021, while the staff headcount increased by 30 percent across its locations in Ireland and the USA. Revenue is predicted to surpass $10 million in 2022, while growth in brand segment is predicted at 60 percent.

How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

The company has evolved in a few ways since the pandemic. Like everyone, we’ve been trying to figure out the best way to make flexible working the norm, and we’ve settled on a hybrid model to do that. But it’s also changed the way we sell, and whom we partner with.

The pandemic has accelerated the move into doing a lot of things digitally, and as that digital footprint has expanded, so has our customer base, with more and more people looking to understand what’s happening online across different channels, and thankfully we’ve been able to step in to help them do that.

What can we hope to see from NewsWhip in the future?

We’ve got some exciting growth in the pipeline, driven by the expansion of both our product and frontline teams. This is going to allow us to develop our core products even more and build the tools necessary for our customers to understand the digital landscape in seconds with some automated insights and quantitative metrics.