How Google’s New Real-Time Trending News Tool Can Help PR Pros

Google launched a $300 million news initiative a bit more than one year ago, including a product called News Consumer Insights (NCI) that allows publishers to crunch raw data from Google Analytics into insights around lead generation, audience segments and who's paying for their premium content.

Building on its commitment to the NCI tool, Google just released a tool called Realtime Content Insights (RCI). While NCI is still useful for business development and looking at the longview, the RCI tool will help writers, editors, content producers and social teams make analytics-based decisions in the moment.

Amy Adams Harding, Google’s  head of analytics and revenue optimization and head of publisher development, told TechCrunch that the RCI tool will help smaller or less data-savvy newsrooms get a fighting chance without having to spend a ton on a boutique real-time dash, adding that it was designed “to help the editorial side of our partners understand the dynamics of content on their site — what’s trending, what’s falling off, what’s getting traction.”

“Local is a huge pillar of the Google News Initiative,” Harding continued. “What can we do to help develop tools where we can be support mechanisms for our partners as they try to stay sustainable during this transition … not only to digital, but one more transition over to this diversified revenue stream? That’s something that many of our publishers are not resourced well enough to take on on their own.”

The image-heavy interface of the RCI dash makes it easy to understand. It shows the number of readers looking at a story, along with a 30-minute traffic view, a daylong traffic view, and a geographic/referrals breakdown of readership. But the RCI really excels with its ability to display trending topics on Google and Twitter. This can help editors discover gaps in their coverage around what is stirring conversations, Harding says.

Of course, any tried and true PR pro understands that arming journalists with great insights and leads for coverage is the best way to build a relationship and excel at media relations. To that end, communicators could benefit from requesting insights from the RCI tool for pages that run partnered or branded content with their agency. These real-time reads can inform their strategies around what they pitch.

That could be a cumbersome ask, for sure, but the communications team at publications you work with should know you have a value proposition based on insights this tool generates. Once that's understood, gaining access should be much simpler.

“We’ve seen the 'shareability' of a story become an increasingly more important factor for journalists when considering what to write about," says Muck Rack COO Natan Edelsburg. "The media landscape is continuing to change and this will help inform publishers where they need to adjust more efficiently.”

More than 41 percent of journalists consider the potential “shareability” of a story when deciding what to write, a 2018 survey from Muck Rack and Zeno Group showed. In addition, 63 percent of journalists in the U.S. and 68 percent worldwide track how many times their stories are shared on social media.

To that end, PR pros will benefit greatly from getting their hands on whatever real-time content insights they can from publications they're targeting. Building a base level of analytical literacy should not be siloed within one department or role within an organization. Tools like RCI can drastically help ensure that everyone is on the same page.