AI has the potential to be particularly disruptive in PR. Why? Because PR has remained largely unchanged for the past two decades. PR bravely resists every attempt at innovation. Most PR professionals still do their jobs the same way: collect important journalist emails in a database and email them. Steve Marcinuk, co-founder and head of operations at Intelligent Relations, looks at how AI and text generation are changing the PR game.
People have been optimistically sticking the word “destructive” in the every technology Written by Clayton Christensen and Joseph Ball since 1995 their seminal paper Topics in Harvard Business Review. But not every technology is actually disruptive. Take a car as an example. When they appeared in the late 1800s, they didn’t disrupt the carriage market because they were too expensive and cumbersome. They didn’t catch up. Revolutionary, yes. Destructive, no.
Then, in 1905, Henry Ford successfully turned the industry upside down with his affordable Ford Model T. Suddenly, everyone could afford a car.
Many technologies fall into the non-destructive camp. New technology can do cool things—it can help you do things better, faster, and more efficiently. But will it really disrupt any industry? Many of the new advancements don’t actually impact any real industry change.
AI text generation is one of those technologies that could prove disruptive, especially in the PR industry. Right now, innovation in the field of artificial intelligence is happening rapidly. AI is creating gorgeous works of art – it’s even winning art competitions! What’s more, AI is producing more meaningful and readable copy. AI is holding semi-decent conversations and even convincing some people that AI may one day become sentient.
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Oh sure, we’ve become more efficient. We use tracking pixels and social media and automated email sequences. But the PR industry hasn’t really been disrupted. AI, and AI-driven text generation in particular, can change that.
What does a break in PR really mean?
You could argue that any new technology is disruptive—in fact, many marketers are, albeit exaggeratedly. But in my opinion, the impending PR hiatus will make PR more accessible, thereby removing barriers to entry. After all, that’s what tech has done for our sister industries, marketing and sales. Anyone can use their self-service platform to run Facebook ads, no matter how much training they have. Anyone can build a beautiful website to sell their products. Technology has disrupted these industries by cutting out the middleman.
Today, PR still acts like a black box, commodifying relationships rather than skills, talents or experience. Many PR agencies charge through the nose to access internal email addresses. But soon, clients will be able to do most of their PR work for two reasons: First, today’s media environment is more fragmented and accessible than ever. Second, AI text generation has democratized PR, enabling anyone to generate a professional pitch or press release.
Let’s talk about media fragmentation first. Twenty years ago, there were some famous websites and magazines. In contrast, today there are hundreds of relevant niche publications, hundreds of industry podcasts, and even B2B influencers and thought leaders. These contacts were not gated – many provided their contact details on their social media pages. Today, having an editorial email address at Forbes is no longer as valuable as it once was, because Forbes is no longer one of the five famous sites that get your business mentioned.
In the past, PR firms had exclusive access to these email addresses. Only PR firms know how to write a press release that gets attention. Only a PR professional can write a promotional video that can be seen by reporters. Not so today. To stay relevant, PR needs to evolve to provide another service – otherwise clients will leave PR completely behind.
Now let’s discuss what AI text generation allows non-PR workers to do. AI text generation enables self-service PR through multiple channels. First, multiple AI text generation tools crawl press releases online and use them to help companies generate their own press releases. Second, there are AI text-generating tools that can help anyone create social media campaigns. Finally, the art of pitching is no longer exclusive to PR—there are now countless text-generating tools that can help anyone craft a personalized pitch to send to reporters.
What does this mean for the PR industry landscape? Let’s say you’re a B2B company that sells data science software. You have some good news – you just acquired a hot new AI company. You no longer need to contact a PR firm to send out a press release and syndicate it. You no longer need to hire a PR firm to write a press release. You can email relevant people by looking up their emails on Twitter or LinkedIn, and you can use AI text generation to generate very persuasive press releases.
How will text generation disrupt PR?
Three factors make for a perfect storm of destruction. First, there was an influx of cash.For example, Muck Rack, a database of journalists used by PR professionals to contact journalists, recently improve $180 million in Series A funding. Where there is money, there is the driving force for innovation.
Second, there is obvious laughter. PR technology has been stagnant. Marketing technology and sales technology have undergone the kind of accessible transformation I described above. Now it’s PR’s turn.
Third, technology and data are mature and available. AI text generation technology is in its infancy. Today, you can access any number of commercial AI text generators for press releases, LinkedIn messages, pitches to journalists, and podcast outreach—all within the specs. The technology has been trained on absolutely abundant publicly available data, making AI text generation more valuable than ever.
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How will AI text generation change PR?
In the near future, anyone will be able to send mass email requests to journalists using a self-service platform that automatically generates a well-written press release or pitch for you using AI text generation. To stay in business, PR professionals need to do more than just hoard a bunch of emails. PR will evolve into a strategic extension of the company, not a relationship broker. The role of PR will be to help develop the narrative, plan outreach and develop an overall communication strategy.
if not? PR firms, then, may find themselves beaten by their own clients as AI and text generation help businesses self-help.
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