The art of the pitch in public relations is in dire need of a revival. In an attempt to meet new standards for productivity, PR professionals are blindly sending out as many pitches as possible. They don’t have the time to thoroughly research their pitches or vet their email recipients, let alone pick up the phone and actually speak to a journalist. As a result, journalists are bombarded with spammy emails about topics that bear little – if any – relevance to their previous work.
Fortunately, the latest innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) can take some of the guesswork out of pitching and help prevent PR professionals from sending their ideas to the wrong people. By embracing these advancements, PR professionals can devote more effort towards connecting with journalists, and crafting great angles for their clients.
According to a recent Harris Poll, 72 percent of PR professionals said they rely on their gut more than they should when pitching ideas to journalists. This is likely because few people want to spend hours combing through various publications and social media platforms to determine which topics are attracting the most coverage. PR professionals must additionally research the work of journalists to gauge their receptiveness to a particular story idea.
Well, what if you could accomplish both of these objectives in a matter of minutes? What if you could send out more finely honed pitches each day without the fear that the majority of your emails are going to be irrelevant to the recipients?
Using AI to increase relevance
The primary function of AI in the PR industry is to provide users with predictive analytics about story trends and receptive journalists, which PR pros can then use to inform numerous critical processes, from pitch ideation to email list-building. Emerging AI tools such as OnePitch and PRophet produce these analytics by analyzing the previous work of journalists to determine the statistical probability of their covering a proposed story idea.
After inputting a potential topic or a series of keywords, the user is instantly presented with a list of journalists, each of whom is accompanied by a percentage based on relevance. The user can also view granular details about each journalist such as recurring sub-topics of their articles, the reach and traction of their recent work, and the journalist’s likelihood of responding to pitches in general.
These tools enable PR professionals to send pitches to more appropriate recipients and craft their messages to suit highly specific areas of interest. Instead of relying on their gut, users can also review the aforementioned percentages to see the overall appeal of their desired topic. The data provided by AI essentially gives PR professionals a deeper insight into the interests of journalists, which sets the stage for establishing long-term partnerships.
Finding newsworthy stories
Another predictive capability of AI stems from its media monitoring function. By analyzing hundreds of thousands newly published articles each day, AI can quickly create a list of the most relevant stories to a certain topic. This monitoring process can reveal emerging trends in news coverage and give users an idea of the kind of topics that are likely to garner press coverage in the near future.
To that end, AI can also categorize the aforementioned articles into different sections through a process called “clustering,” based on certain sub-topics or other distinguishing features within the articles. The user can then determine which articles contain the most relevant or noteworthy stories and incorporate these developments into pitches. Journalists tend to gravitate towards stories that evoke shock or surprise, and clustering can quickly bring these stories to the attention of PR professionals.
Put your ideas into words
Even if you have a great idea for a pitch, finding the words to effectively express your idea can sometimes be difficult. Fortunately, AI has evolved to the point where it can produce content that actually sounds like it was written by a fairly creative human being. All you have to do is enter a little context (e.g. the purpose, structure, and desired tone of your pitch) into tools like CopyAI in order to generate clean and concise pitch emails.
These tools also utilize the aforementioned context to create an appropriate email subject line. In a survey of 500 individuals who work in the media industry, 79 percent rated AI-generated email pitches as “convincing,” and 71 percent rated the quality of these pitches as “high” or “very high.” You still have to proofread the AI-generated email: AI of PR isn’t a completely hands-off process, at least not yet. But proofreading takes way less time than trying to compose a pitch when your creative juice tank is almost empty.
AI won’t do your job for you
Anyone who doubts the necessity of AI in PR should take a glance at a journalist’s email inbox. Far too many PR professionals are sending pitches without conducting sufficient research beforehand. Put simply, AI poses a highly logical solution by creating pitches that are more focused and relevant to the recipient.
That doesn’t mean AI will totally automate your daily work. PR professionals still have to build a list of valuable contacts and decide which journalists will be most receptive to the pitch at hand. Likewise, while AI may be able to focus your pitch and your target list, you’ll still need to come up with topics yourself and harness your own creativity to catch the attention of journalists.
AI is designed to serve as a valuable partner for those who are willing to admit that the PR industry needs serious help. Rather than jeopardizing the jobs of PR professionals, AI signifies a return to the good old days, when people put more insight into pitches. For this reason, PR professionals who want to remember why they entered this industry in the first place would be wise to incorporate AI into their daily routines.
About the Author
Stephen Marcinuk is the Co-founder and Head of Operations at Intelligent Relations, an AI-powered PR platform. He is actively involved in all aspects of operations and growth for the company – this ranges from the generation of the AI PR technology for the platform, all the way across to client services.
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