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Enterprise hits and misses - Amazon goes healthcare shopping with One Medical, and PR pitches get an AI debate

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed July 25, 2022
This week - Amazon confirms its healthcare ambitions with the purchase of One Medical, but do consumers trust Amazon with healthcare data? The automation and AI debate shifted to PR pitches, while the AI trust disconnect hits the exec suite. Your whiffs include the hard knock life of the Instagram influencer.


Lead story - Can automation and AI improve communications? A PR pitch debate

You can't go more than a week without reading about how "AI" can automate some kind of sophisticated, text-based process. So why not PR pitches? That's the debate that broke out on diginomica this week, via Barb's Absolutely Fabulous? Bringing data-driven decisions to PR.

We all have some version of the "email pitch spam" problem. Most of us get a huge blast of it after attending a tech event, even a shabby mediocre placeholder virtual one. For media types like yours truly, it's the dreaded generic PR blast. Barb defines the problem:

As a journalist, I'm often frustrated by the endless emails from press agencies and brand communications teams. Sometimes the pitch is bang on, and I go for it. But most of the time, the pitch is irrelevant to the topics I cover, a topic I've just covered, a generic pitch that went to multiple journalists, or is (from my perspective) boring.

A possible solution?

Software can't solve all these things, but it can solve some.

Barb's piece focuses on the "media intelligence and PR management software" from Propel. "There's plenty of databases and monitoring, but there was no CRM or workflow tool for PR."

Propel's goal is to increase the response rates from the media. But that works just as well in reverse: more responses mean we're getting more nutrition in our inbox and less empty calories. So what's the debate then? I think we all agree that more "intelligent" email inboxes is preferable. We might quibble over the definition of "intelligence."

Example: in my case, whether to send me a pitch on Monday morning or Wednesday afternoon is completely irrelevant, and has nothing to do with "intelligence." The caliber of the pitch is everything. But understanding my interests - or, say, my desire to document technology with customer ROI - that is intelligence. But can you automate that? Yep, that's the debate. Stuart's comment raises a concern: perhaps those who blast are the exact same who will want such tools?

It's certainly the case that in today's media environment there are so many outlets that some degree of process automation is going to be necessary IF your approach to PR is that of 'blanket bombing'. There used to be a PR firm in London that became so notorious for its 'telesales' approach to PR that a common question among hacks was, 'How many times has XYZ called you this morning?'. That's PR by numbers, with metrics presumably based on quantity of outreach, not quality. It's activity masquerading as achievement.

Barb responded:

I agree that blanket PRs suck and we get way too many of them. What I liked about Propel is you could create these lists of journalists/media companies around your topics and then generate the emails in draft to personalize. But I like the AI in Propel that helps agencies and brand know which journalists to pitch and how to pitch them right - use that to help build the right relationships.

Relationships that lead to results - that's still the core of the matter, at least in B2B. If the tech helps with that, great. I'm wary that AI will be recruited to do something else: write the pitches themselves. For those who want to automate "intelligent" outreach, Stuart leaves us with an old school warning:

The most productive PR working relationships are based on quality and understanding. As a journalist, I want targeted outreach that meets my needs. Being bombarded by mail shot campaigns isn't the way to do it - no matter how automated the tech is behind it. Some of my best friends are PR people, not bots.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Madeline posted an compelling piece on diversity in tech: Getting equity for Black women in tech - the Sista Circle approach. Proving that we can no longer separate politics from any notion of digital evolution, Stuart posted  A diplomatic approach to geopolitics in the digital age - why the EU and the US need to build bridges in the face of Putin's aggression. Finally, Derek has an old school project failure story with a pandemic twist:  UK’s PPE procurement failures could cost taxpayers £2.7 billion (yikes!). 

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

Overworked businessman


So Meg Bear suggests I should leverage "ensh@tification" into my vernacular:

You know what? i can do that! (The term was invented by Cory Doctorow as a way of holding mobile app makers accountable for their bulky/invasive data collection). Forgot to mention, Experian screwed up again:

If you think you've had a rough week, let's have a moment of silence for Instagram influencers and meme creators: Instagram Meme Creators Protest Content Moderation Policies. Yep, things are rough all over folks... See you next time.

If you find an #ensw piece that qualifies for hits and misses - in a good or bad way - let me know in the comments as Clive (almost) always does. Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed.

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