6 ways automation can free up communicators for more creative work

These tech tools will reduce tedium and afford you more time to innovate and to cultivate relationships with clients and journalists.

PR automation

Every PR agency today has a need for speed—from details on media preferences to data that informs our pitches and programs.

Teams juggle many client accounts, with each having its own needs and expectations. There’s only so much time to spend on routine work like monitoring and measuring, yet these tasks are extremely important to any ongoing PR agency/client relationship. They’re also a huge factor in the success of our programs.

One thing that can help is automating rote tasks. Mail-merge for journalist emails is a great example (and one that’s unfortunately misused in PR), but there’s more.

Here are six ways PR agencies should be using tech tools and other resources:

1. Make PR media monitoring a breeze. Because some clients require daily category or competitive monitoring reports as early as 8 a.m., we couldn’t live without simple tools like Google Alerts and services like Cision. Automated monitoring not only flags coverage, but also puts the most topical news on our radar. Alerts for topics relevant to a client’s business can make a big difference in securing quick wins and nailing ideas for proactive pitching. For B2B companies, it’s important to monitor online communities like LinkedIn groups and Twitter conversations among journalists (Muck Rack).

2. Simplify social media content. Many clients task their PR agency with posting content to various platforms, ensuring appropriate brand messaging and driving engagement. News releases and other timely content can be planned in advance, and content can be tailored to parts of the day and time zones that maximize clicks with services like Hootsuite. As with any content automation, social media content needs human oversight. We’ve all heard the nightmare stories of brands who pre-scheduled flippant tweets amid a national tragedy or, more recently, social influencer content that reeks of bot automation, complete with fake comments.

3. Locate brand-appropriate social media influencers. More than automation of the social media content that’s posted for a brand, services like BuzzSumo can help PR strategists locate the right influencers by searching relevant topics in far less time and in greater detail than an old-style manual search. We’re a little wary of the fully automated micro-influencer platforms used by some DTC and other consumer brands, but, as always, research and testing go a long way.

4. Nail the right database for media research. Media outreach is frustratingly inefficient, but much of it can be automated, allowing more time for developing a creative subject line or a launch idea. Cision and others open the door for easily customized media-list building, creating contact lists of relevant journalists and influencers around a specific coverage area. Muck Rack also deserves a mention; although it doesn’t have the list generation capabilities of Cision, it finds a journalist’s information and ties it to their Twitter feed, offering real-time information on what that specific journalist is writing and talking about on social media. The information can be crucial to generating interest for reactive pitching and seeing what industry trends are buzzing.

5. Make the most of AI-generated content. Artificial intelligence is used across an array of industries, including PR and marketing. For example, JPMorgan Chase is using AI to strengthen its marketing messages, and according to CMO Kristin Lemkau, in one test the AI-generated ad copy beat the content written by humans. Content marketer Fractl created a “blog” fully generated by AI to show how easy it is to create such content—and to raise concerns about the future of the process. For PR, tools such as Quill and Wordsmith turn data into meaningful narratives for a relatively decent price. Although the tech is still in its early days for PR use, it’s something pros should keep their eyes on.

6. Show your work with metrics. Measuring outcomes is like a holy grail for PR pros, and here, too, automation helps. Automated services like Meltwater can make those hefty end-of-the-quarter clip reports much less painful, for example. Reports can document a brand’s share of voice (SOV) versus competitors’ when it comes to earned media coverage. To spare us sifting through news stories to identify company mentions, plenty of paid services, like Cision, simplify the process. Like all clip reports, automated SOV reports tend to be imperfect, usually catching irrelevant mentions and sometimes equating different types of earned media coverage, so human intervention is a must.

A version of this post first appeared on Crenshaw Communications’ PR Fish Bowl blog.

Topics: PR

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