PR software providers Notified (Globe Newswire), Propel, Muck Rack, Presspage and PRophet add generative AI to their platforms, joining Agility and Burrelles
PR pros should keep an open mind about AI and how it can help them do their job. Most executives from the PR tech space don’t see it replacing PR pros and I don’t either, but you might be replaced by someone who learns how to use it to get things done faster.
There are some risks too. While PR probably isn’t writing public communications about trade secrets, you should be cognizant of obvious dangers. For example, you shouldn’t copy and paste proprietary data with a generative AI system.
PR also shouldn’t be afraid of generative AI. It’s not what Hollywood has made it out to be. It’s not conscious. It’s not alive. It doesn’t have opinions.
Generative AI has more in common with a sophisticated calculator than a cognitive being. It is basically making an educated guess, based on probability, about words.
Words are predictable. People that know each other well finish each other’s sentences all the time. This is what generative AI is effectively doing too. If a training set of words uses a certain phrase more often, that phrase has a higher probability.
This is why generative AI may be at risk for use in propaganda. The most repetitive voice, or voices, will influence the probability calculation.
What this means is what you put into AI will affect what you get out of AI. AI input optimization could evolve into a marketing specialization in the same way SEO did.
And that’s why I think PR needs to start experimenting with this stuff sooner rather than later.
And that brings us to the first story in this month’s PR tech sum – covering news from the vendor community this month.
1. PR software vendors race to add generative AI
Notified is adding generative AI to its press release distribution service Globe Newswire. The feature seems to be a white label of the company behind Chat GPT. According to the release said the feats “is built on Microsoft Azure OpenAI” and it’s created a sign-up form for customers interested in beta testing the feature.
Notified is the latest to join the arms race over generative AI. The Israeli-based startup Propel launched what it’s calling “AMIGA” which stands for “Artificial Media Intelligence Generator and Assistant.” The company says, “AMIGA offers advanced research and writing capabilities including generating pitches.”
Muck Rack reportedly announced something similar this month as well.
These are just the latest in a string of generative AI announcements as vendors rush to field products or features.
Last month, a US-based PR tech startup called Prophet white labeled OpenAI technology for generative AI in its product. So too did the Amsterdam-based Presspage. The Presspage use case is responding to inquiries rather than writing pitches or press releases – but it’s still about generating text.
Prior to that, Agility PR Solutions added a generative AI tool it calls “PR CoPilot” in January. This AI is unique because the feature was built in-house, as opposed to white labeling OpenAI’s tool. Agility is owned by parent company Innodata, which has invested quite a bit in AI across several businesses it owns.
About a month later, the ever venerable Burrelles integrated the technology behind it into its own solution.
Several other mainstream vendors have said they are considering adding generative AI to their solution – or actively working on it.
It’s worth noting that I don’t see “white labeling” as a weakness (necessarily). Lots of vendors white labeled broadcast media monitoring in their solutions already. It’s likely many more will do the same with generative AI tools.
Even PR firms are trying to get in on the craze. PR firm Gregory FCA recently announced a free AI tool to write press releases “in three minutes.”
While the content generation aspects of AI are emerging, most PR tech or comms tech vendors have incorporated other AI subsets – such as natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning – into their software for years.
2. Cision doubles down on ‘guarantees’ for press releases
Cision doubled down on its ‘guarantees’ with a “guaranteed paid placement” pitch for its newswire service PR Newswire. This is a notably softer message than the “guaranteed editorial” offer they put out about this time last year, but it is, in my opinion, an oxymoron.
Any “paid” placement ought to be guaranteed. That’s the whole point of advertising: control and visibility.
Secondly, press releases sent out over distribution services are by default paid placements. That’s what you are paying for when you buy “distribution.” Press release distributors, like PR Newswire, cut deals with publishers to syndicate their customers’ announcements. The distributor pays them every time they publish a release.
Usually, publishers bury these releases on the back page of their website where few people will find them. This is because the publisher wants the money, but they don’t want to scare away their audience with a deluge of press releases filled with buzzwords and nonsensical jargon.
I think it speaks volumes that many of the newer vendors in the space are racing to add generative AI to their PR software – and Cision is pitching advertising to people who specialized in earned media.
3. PR tech mentions
- Reletter is a new search engine for newsletters, which indexes newsletters from “Mailchimp, ConvertKit and the dozen or so other major ESPs.” This means PR pros can find and contact the authors behind 1.3 million newsletters.
- Employee comms platform Staffbase announced it is offering free online training courses for internal communicators.
- Onclusive launched its CEO index which tracks the most covered CEOs. Unsurprisingly, outspoken or controversial CEOs at the biggest tech companies like Elon, Zuck and Tim Cook are at the top of the list.
- Muck Rack said it “tripled the number of articles it monitors to more than two million articles a day.”
- Cision said PR Newswire published “75,000 press releases” in the Asia-Pacific region in 2022 which was a “7% increase from 2021.”
- Prezly is experimenting with side navigation layout in its user interface.
- Meltwater hired a PR firm but like many PR tech vendors, it still does not have PR people on staff in-house. The company is on the verge of being acquired by a private fund.
4. PR tech people on the move
- Signal AI named Laura Clayton McDonnell to its board. “She has held executive-level positions at ServiceNow, Microsoft, Aspect Software, IBM, and Rational Software, as well as senior sales and legal roles at Sun Microsystems, Cisco and Apple, and sits on the board of Zuora.”
5. Content picks
- 80% of journalists say “academic experts are the most credible sources, with CEOs dropping 12% in the last two years” according to a Muck Rack survey.
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Image credit: DALL-E “humanoid robots carrying typewriters in a running race with each other”