TrendKite raises $5M to continue turning the world of PR upside down

by Garrett Reim
March 2, 2015
After 250 percent plus quarter over quarter growth in 2014, TrendKite knew it was on to something big. 
“2014 was a little crazy for us,” said CEO Erik Huddleston. “Our metrics across the board were almost as good as it gets.”
TrendKite's backers quickly agreed, doubling down on the media monitoring and public relations analysis SaaS platform company this last week with a $5 million Series B round.
“It was the fastest fundraise of my career, weighing in at about 3 weeks,” said Huddleston.
TrendKite’s platform growth comes from applying software driven analytics, previously reserved for social media and digital advertising, to the world of public relations.
Brands “invest a significant amout of money [in public relations] but unlike most sales and marketing spend you don’t see the ROI on PR spend. It’s really mushy,” said Huddleston.
Previously companies monitored public conversation about themselves through media alert systems, sort of glorified Google Alerts. Those systems sent links to PR representatives when their brand was mentioned online, but not much else. Such media monitoring platforms tell brands little about whether their public mention was positive or negative; they don’t give context in terms of the larger public conversation around a brand’s industry; and they certainly didn’t help measure return on investment — all of those things are traditionally done by hand and done without a fair amount of accuracy.
TrendKite has proven popular because it automates that work, freeing public relations representatives from creating media reports for their clients and allowing them to spend more time influencing news content.
To do that TrendKite uses a series of algorithms and computing processes to catalog and analyze what’s going on in the news.
“We do a ton of natural language processing: the technical term for the family of analytics that takes texts and overlays the meaning of what that text is,” said Huddleston.
The TrendKite platform can look at a specific article, highlight brand mentions and then label them positive, neutral or negative.  The platform also gives a brand a better understanding of their place in the public conversation. 
Take the smart watch industry for example. Huddleston said the TrendKite platform can display information that says: “there were 50,000 articles this month about smart watches and out of those 50,000 articles, 46 percent of them were mentioning a vendor in that space. And of those, 63 percent mentioned the Apple Watch and 22 percent mentioned the Pebble.”
This sort of knowledge can help a brand better understand how their public relations efforts are growing or shrinking their share of the public consciousness.
“We build essentially a map of the PR universe,” said Huddleston. “We know all the publications, the writers, and what they are writing about.”
Huddleston said they have millions of publications and authors catalogued and analyzed, which also helps brands find and pitch more favorable news publications and combat negative publicity.
Huddleston said their platform is comparable in price to existing media monitoring platforms. As such, the company credits it growth to charging customers rates they’re familiar with while providing more technology than they're used to.
Thus, to keep 250 percent plus quarter over quarter growth Huddleston said the company needs to continue to differentiate itself with its technology. TrendKite plans on using part of the $5 million Series B funding round to expand its sales and marketing teams and the rest to reinvest in technology, so as to continue pushing ahead of the pack.
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