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How PR agencies are using AI in 2024

How PR agencies are using AI in 2024

Steal timesaving PR hacks from the professionals.

AI is the talk of the town. The belle of the ball. Nobody can get enough of discussing the myriad ways that AI is going to revolutionize, destroy, change, redefine, and otherwise blow up all sorts of industries.

PR is no different. Thought leaders and amateurs alike in the PR space are feverishly shouting about the future of PR and how the industry is going to change and how we're all powerless to stop it.

The whole discourse around AI can be daunting. Is AI amazing? Is it horrible? Is it actually revolutionary, or are the people who are selling "prompt engineering" courses just overhyping it to shill their services?

We asked some real-life (non-AI) PR agency and comms folks how they're actually using AI, and we even spoke with a few who are simply opting out.

How to use AI in your workflow

1. Making content outlines

Tool used: ChatGPT

From the expert:

I use AI on the daily, both for my own content and clients’ content. With the right prompts, Chat GPT can come up with a solid outline for articles. It helps me defeat the blank page and triggers ideas. I find it useful for little things like choosing emojis and suggesting hashtags for social media posts. Yep, I could do all that myself, but if Chat GPT can do the grunt work it means I can deliver more for my clients.

I think of AI as my potter’s wheel. It churns my clay round and round so I can mould and shape that chunk of gunk into something beautiful.

Yep, what AI churns out is often bland and clichéd and I unfortunately I think we’re about to start drowning in dull content. But if used as a tool by a skilled communicator, it can help us deliver quality content, quicker.  

Carla Ellerby, Communications Consultant & Content WriterComposed Communication

As previously mentioned (and as we have screamed about on Twitter), generative AI is not creating new and interesting content. It is lightly regurgitating and repurposing old content.

But generative AI can be useful for getting over a bout of writer's block or creating a helpful outline for creating new articles. Should you exclusively rely on ChatGPT or Bard to write your blog or social media content? No, never. But it's still, like Carla said, a nice little assistant for the boring bits of content creation.

2. Research & writing press releases

Tool used: Odin AI

From the expert:

Research for writing my novels and brainstorming ideas. I still believe everyone has their own voice but AI saves a lot of time. I use it for the tedious things like press releases.

Liv Arnold, Director & AuthorPublic Status PR

Writing press releases is never a bundle of fun, and it often ends up being a lot of dry technical information and not a lot of amusing artsy business. (Unless you use a cool service to house your aesthetic press releases online, not that we know anything about that. 👀)

If you just need to get the facts out there, generative AI can be a useful tool for structuring a press release or any other routine-but-uncreative document on your to-do list.

How to use ChatGPT to draft your next press release
How to use ChatGPT to draft your next press release

How to use the chatbots to make press releases even easier

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3. Shortening text

AI tool used: ChatGPT

From the expert:

ChatGPT really can work wonders for achieving brevity on a subject you're pitching to media. You can prompt various AI tools to summarize a topic in fewer and fewer words. Try it for fun sometime. That's a huge benefit to PR people.

Stephen Kent, Public Relations SpecialistConsumer Choice Center

If you're anything like me, you find that writing endless pages of text is easier than writing short, condensed snippets. Minimum word count? Yes, please! Maximum word count? Please, no, anything but that.

ChatGPT is here to condense your masterpieces. This is great for when you want to simply tease a longer post, include an excerpt, or just text your grandma with what you've been up to while at work. Simply add the text, tell ChatGPT you want it in a specific word count or as a brief summary, and voila!

The best ChatGPT prompts for public relations in 2024
The best ChatGPT prompts for public relations in 2024

How to get the most out of chatbots for your public relations efforts

4. Journalist outreach

Tools used: OpenAI (ChatGPT), Klipr

From the expert:

We outreach to hundreds of journalists a day, and our team is constantly striving to streamline workflow where possible. In the last six months, we’ve found that OpenAI has improved productivity and automation by leaps and bounds.

AI currently lacks the magic of human creativity, but it’s immensely useful for productivity and ideation. We’ve been using ChatGPT to create email headlines, and, much to the chagrin (or maybe relief!) of our copywriting team, these have been wildly successful. It always requires a bit of trial and error to get right, and ChatGPT finds it hard to relinquish its now iconic use of the colon, but the tool has demonstrated its potential for PRs tenfold.

Emailing journalists can be tricky to get right, but with ChatGPT we’ve been able to quickly localise and personalise our emails, which has seen an increase in open and response rates.

We’ve also merged our in-house coverage tool, klipr.io, with AI to create insights into reporting opportunities and trends in the news cycle.

The current buzz around AI and why it could threaten PR roles certainly has legs, and we’ll keep a watchful eye on the future. For the time being, it’s all about how to use AI in a creative way to foster productivity.

Kathryn Case, Marketing ManagerKaizen Digital PR

Many PR agencies are using AI to bolster, not replace, their pitching and writing workflows. This will likely be a delicate balance for most, as the timesaving aspects of generative AI have to be weighed against the need for heavy edits of whatever Bard, ChatGPT, Jasper, and the rest are producing. But for many, a simple rough draft is often worth its weight in gold.

Klipr.io is another example of an AI tool that many may not have heard of but seems to be providing value for digital PR and finding link opportunities as part of an overall linkbuilding strategy.

5. Coordinating team schedules

AI tool used: Talla

From the expert:

One of the biggest benefits of AI is that it can automate administrative tasks. This is particularly helpful if, like me, you work in a remote setting. Coordinating with the rest of the team can be tricky, especially when you factor in time zones, schedules, and deadlines. We’ve experimented with using Talla, and so far, we are pleased with the results. It’s maximized efficiency with minimal effort.

Previously, we found that we weren’t optimizing our time. There were unnecessary delays between interactions, scheduling conflicts, and confusion, which made it harder to connect with our colleagues. Automating processes has saved us time and increased our productivity, giving us the space to focus on the things that really matter.

This has reduced the time spent waiting for responses, as in many instances you can simply ask Talla instead. It helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page, improving consistency across the board. This has enabled us to work in a more cohesive manner.

Jeremy Scott Foster, Founder & CEOTravelFreak

Automating boring administrative tasks is really, in our opinion, where AI shines. So many of us spend far too much of our day in the weeds of little boring tasks and not doing the high-level, strategic, creative work we want to do. Tools like Talla do the lame bits for you so you can get back to the thing you were hired to do.

Other administrative AI tools to try:

6. Transcribing interviews & podcasts

AI tool used: Snipd

From the expert:

AI voice-to-text services like Snipd for podcasts have changed the game for locating the golden excerpts within dense podcast interviews. A better excerpt from a client makes for a better pitch. 

Stephen KentConsumer Choice Center

Life moves fast, and nobody has the time to sit around and painstakingly transcribe huge audio files. There are also tons of juicy interview nuggets hidden within podcasts, and again, nobody wants to be transcribing all that. AI tools like Snipd can do some of that transcription work for you. While many speech-to-text services still have a long way to go before they're pitch-perfect, they can still save a ton of time over manually transcribing (or making an intern manually transcribe).

Other AI transcription tools to try:

7. Generating reactive campaign ideas

AI tool used: ChatGPT

From the expert:

We recently started using ChatGPT to give us suggestions for reactive ideas. We had a campaign that wasn’t getting the coverage we expected and needed to turn something around quickly. So, we asked ChatGPT to generate ideas that were related to pets and mental health in light of mental health awareness week. Most of the ideas it gave us were good, but not something we could act on quickly. So we refined our prompts and asked it to generate ideas that could be executed with search data and the results were much more promising. 

We looked at a number of search terms, such as ‘emotional support dog’ and ‘emotional support cat’ and then ranked them based on search volume to determine the most popular animals that people look for to comfort them. We then summarised our findings in a short press release and got a couple of comments from experts and managed to secure a number of links, including a link in the Huffington Post.

Lance Honeghan, Content & PR ExecutiveAvid Panda Digital Marketing

For many, coming up with ideas is just the absolute worst part of the job. Instead of endlessly scrolling through Twitter for inspo, why not ask ChatGPT for a few specific, targeted campaign ideas?

8. Checking grammar & spelling

Tools used: Grammarly, Otter.ai, ChatGPT

From the expert:

I use Grammarly, an AI-powered writing assistant, on a daily basis, as well as Otter AI for transcribing interviews with SMEs. I also utilize ChatGPT for keyword research and brainstorming for new content ideas. 

PR professionals will not be replaced by AI anytime soon. A large part of being successful in public relations is based upon understanding people, building relationships, and being creative. We should be utilizing AI to make our lives easier for things like brainstorming, copyediting, and transcribing, so that it frees up time to work on crafting creative pitches and building relationships.

Erica Velander, Associate PR & Marketing ManagerKNB Communications

Grammarly is a popular writing tool that leverages AI to double-check your content writing for speling mistakes. It won't do the writing for you, but it will use its AI superpowers to make sure you didn't split an infinitive or dangle a participle.

Other AI-powered writing tools to check out:

9. Social listening

AI tool used: Brandwatch

From the expert:

At our company, we've employed Brandwatch for social listening. This process is very tedious and requires hours of work for very little result. Automating it with AI was the best decision we've made. It scours the internet for mentions of our brand and those of our clients. The AI will also analyze the mention to understand the context and sentiment. This helps shorten a lot of our processes. It's been a huge help for us. 

Rodney Warner, CEOConnective Web Design

Social listening, the act of monitoring online and analog communities for trends, sentiments, and brand mentions, can be remarkably time-consuming. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools, like Brandwatch, that are leveraging AI to take the "annoying" out of "the annoying responsibility of social monitoring."

Other social listening AI tools to check out:

Future of public relations: 10+ best AI tools
Future of public relations: 10+ best AI tools

How to work with the robots, not against them.

Who isn't using AI (and why)

Generative AI isn't for everyone, and many PR practitioners are holding out for a while. Some are doing it to maintain that human-to-human connection that makes PR special, some are doing it for privacy and security reasons, and others simply don't trust those sneaky robots. We spoke with a few pros who are taking a more measured approach to AI (for the time being).

From the expert:

We are taking advantage of A.I. tools such as A.I.-generated images and Chat GPT, of course. However, we take precautions to add to the content that Chat GPT generates with statistics and sources so that it is original.

See, the thing about Chat GPT is that you will find that it is good for templates to build off of. Not one person is an expert in everything and no one likes to start off from nothing. So in that sense, Chat GPT is good to have a good foundation to both learn and do your own learning and do a deep dive of things for your readers to enjoy.

But what it lacks is that human touch so in terms of PR & Communication I have sworn off its use. The more you use Chat GPT the more you will see the pattern and its generations become more and more evident. If I'm noticing it now, just wait until it becomes more mainstream so that others start to notice. More importantly, the people you want hope to collaborate with for some earned media and the like.

No, I believe, for PR anyway, that pitches should be authentic, personable, and done by a human. Though with A.I. the genie is out of the bottle and there's no doubt that a response from one of those will transcend to what a human can do I'm sure. I haven't tried it myself but I've been seeing more and more A/B testing by A.I. Could be interesting to see the results of that.

Jacob Flores, Marketing Coordinator & Outreach SpecialistNuvi Global

Taking a moderate, or at least somewhat cautious, approach to generative AI is probably a good idea in this rapidly developing, slightly tumultuous artificial intelligence landscape. The laws and technology seem to be changing daily, if not hourly, and putting all your eggs in the generative AI basket, particularly for contact creation, could potentially backfire down the line.

And, as Jacob said, generative AI is just not producing A+, amazing, personalized, human content like some people seem to think it is. PR still is about connecting with people, and there is no great way to shortcut that.

Future of public relations: 10+ best AI tools
Future of public relations: 10+ best AI tools

How to work with the robots, not against them.

From the expert:

As a PR Manager, I personally am not a fan of AI. I have not used it once in any of my pitches, press releases, etc. PR is literally all about human relationships. Although AI may appeal to others to use as inspiration for copy, I feel it brings a less authentic and personal feel to my pitches. I have heard there are ways to use AI to generate reports on media coverage and insights. I have not utilized any of that so far and could be curious how that side works, but as of now I am sticking to my own experience to guide me through.

Savannah Cruz, Public Relations ManagerBKN Creative

Many PR agencies are resisting the siren song of the generative AI, and for good reason. As most in the field know, the best way to garner positive press is through human relationships, as Savannah mentioned.

Conclusion

It's safe to say that we're all trying to find that fine balance between saving time and making strong personal connections with our audiences. Whether you're an AI super fan, think it's a total fad, or are somewhere in between, there are some pretty impressive AI (artificial intelligence) tools available to help out with your PR workflow.

And if useful, timesaving PR tools (guide with 30+ tools for PR Professionals) are your jam, Prezly is the solution for you. Create aesthetic newsrooms and press releases, store all your most precious content, and send powerful pitches, all from one fantastic tool. ChatGPT could never.

 

Prezly – software for modern PR teams

  • Write & publish brand stories in an online newsroom

  • Send email campaigns, pitches & newsletters

  • Manage all your contact lists in a single CRM, with easy import & export

  • Measure performance to see who's engaging with your stories

Katelynn Sortino

Katelynn Sortino

Storyteller, Prezly

 

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