News trend tool tells you what journalists are writing about

A new news trend tool lets you see and search what journalists are writing about. Trends from Muck Rack is similar to Google Trends which lets you see and compare what people are searching for. Trends does the same but shows what journalists are writing about and lets you discover news trends from around the world.

Trends lets you enter multiple words or terms to compare them with each other. It lets you filter by date so you can see data for the last 12 months or just this week. Unlike Google Trends it provides you with actual numbers of news articles. It also shows top authors and top outlets as well as a share of voice pie chart and unique outlets bar chart. It doesn’t yet have a geography filter so all of the data it shows is global.

Muck Rack Trends can tell you, for example, that journalists have written about UK Labour Party leadership contender Keir Starmer (11,644) fractionally more than his rival Rebecca Long-Bailey (11,535) and substantially more than the third contender Lisa Nandy (8,667). It also shows that for much of the contest it was Rebecca Long-Bailey that was receiving most news coverage and it’s only since March that Keir Starmer has had the most.

However, this also throws up questions about the accuracy of the MuckRack data. As according to Trends the top outlets include the Daily Express and Daily Mail. The top authors list is also surprising as it includes Jack Peat of The London Economic and Jill Lawless, London correspondent of Associated Press. The inclusion of Jill Lawless makes me wonder that if despite the claim to ‘Discover news trends from around the world’ the data sources might be too US-centric.

The next analysis I tried was an even more topical one to compare news articles on Zoom, Skype, Teams and Slack. As expected there has been a massive spike in articles over the last 12 months, with Zoom and Skype leading the pack by a considerable margin. This time the top authors are even more curious. Are Jill Lawless (again) and Danny Pickard of ‘The Danny Pickard Show’ really the top authors?

I can think of numerous ways public relations and communications professionals can use Muck Rack Trends. Many of them are similar to the way PR professionals can use Google Trends to analyse how people are searching.

One is to help decide if a story is a ‘goer’. If there is increasing interest in an issue over time then it could be worth considering. It can also be used to see which journalists or outlets are most interested in an issue and writing about it the most. Another really powerful use is to identify seasonal trends. Is there a time of year (or even day of the week or month) when certain issues regularly get more coverage? At the moment the data only goes back 12 months so using it for seasonal analysis is still limited.

My initial take on the Muck Rack Trends tool is it has the potential to be a fantastic addition to the PRtech stack, but it’s still in beta and probably needs some significant development. It was initially launched as free for journalists and a subscription for PR professionals, but as of 30 March Muck Rack has made Trends free for everyone regardless of if you have a Muck Rack account or not.