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.
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
- UK unveils new ‘AI rulebook’ that takes different regulatory approach to the EU - Here's a shocker: the UK is deviating from the EU norm. Derek: "The UK is not creating a central regulatory body for AI, unlike the EU, and is instead allowing existing regulators to tailor their approach."
- Bank of America’s digital platforms continue to thrive despite stock market volatility - Does digital aggressiveness hedge us (somewhat) against downturns? Bank of America is about to find out. Derek again: "JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley both recently also delivered flat numbers, as the market sell-off continues to add pressure. However, as we highlighted last quarter, Bank of America’s technology budget has increased to $3.6 billion and it is focusing heavily on digital channels."
Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:
- Solid quarter for SAP despite impact of withdrawal from Russia - Derek: "Undoubtedly there are significant impacts to SAP’s bottom line this year, but the general take from Klein is that these are manageable and shouldn’t impact the company’s progress over the mid term."
- Qualtrics reports revenues up, but an unexpected loss as uncertain macro-economic times kick in - a picture of the complications to come. Stuart quotes Qualtrics' CEO on the macro-obstacles: "It’s a combo of soaring inflation and interest rate hikes. They're calibrating on demand site uncertainty. In some areas they are grappling with supply chain challenges, talent retention, rapidly changing consumer business preferences."
- BigTime and Projector PSA merger - a new force in the mid-market PSA space? - Brian makes sense of a PSA play: "Possibly one of the biggest competitive threats will come from ERP vendors that already possess PSA functionality. NetSuite and FinancialForce are two such firms. More will likely follow."
A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:
- Building trust between the CIO and CFO - Workday survey highlights the gaps - Phil
- How PANGAIA fashions an integrated view of corporate data across the board - Mark (Board use case)
- How MDA uses FinancialForce to capture the 'moment of truth' that drives results - Phil
- Freshworks unifies customer data to AI-enable a more joined-up experience - Phil
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
My top seven
- Amazon already knows a lot about you, but One Medical takes it to a whole new level - goofy headline games from CNBC, but Amazon went shopping - and not everyone is comfortable with the private data they'll be receiving for their trouble. Just because the health care system is (mostly) broken doesn't mean peeps want Amazon fixing it. The privacy discussion is healthy at any rate.
- Twitter data breach exposes contact details for 5.4M accounts - Let's be fair, this hardly the most serious and compromising breach we've seen this month, much less this year. But: the disconcerting reminder is how new sites can be breached via information gleaned from other breaches (and public records).
- The Biggest Driver of Longer Buying Cycles - Gartner's Hank Barnes hits us with some hard core stats: "The majority of large scale tech purchase decisions were made with high regret (High regret is when expectations are not being met and customers settled for something less ambitious than they were looking for when they started)."
- The C-Suite has Trust Issues with AI - Constellation's Andy Thurai examines the AI trust disconnect: "Executive hesitancy may be grounded in ongoing, and justifiable, concern that AI results are leading to discrimination within their organizations, or affecting customers."
- I’ll keep finding automations ’til I die - Phil Fersht of HfS has the enterprise quote of the week: "One CIO I spoke with recently declared, “I’ll keep finding automations ’til I die."
- My Lessons in Interviewing Supply Chains to Admire Award Winners – Lora Cecere breaks out the lessons from the finalists: "Leaders Manage Complexity While Laggards React to Complexity and Let it Define Their Supply Chain."
- Eric Adams says NYC 'may not have central business districts anymore' - Is this the first NY Post article in hits/misses? Maybe, but Clive Boulton spotted an important one here. Maybe the remote work debate isn't settled by employees, or pundits - but by expiring real estate leases and half-empty skyscrapers, and all the changes that puts into play.
So Meg Bear suggests I should leverage "[email protected]" into my vernacular:
I think I can work this into my vocabulary :) https://t.co/L8Wt1lVJXR
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) July 23, 2022
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:
Experian, You Have Some Explaining to Do – Krebs on Security https://t.co/TEL0Pvqy0A
-> wow.. @Experian_US time for some comprehensive 2FA and more? Thx, signed, concerned customer.
— Jon Reed (@jonerp) July 13, 2022
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.