Home > PR > Will 2024 be a good year for internal comms? [PR Tech Sum 55]

Will 2024 be a good year for internal comms? [PR Tech Sum 55]

Staffbase launches beta for new internal comms tool; Muck Rack team up with Shankman; Agility PR Solutions parent touts LLM deal with “big tech”

In an unscientific observation, I’ve noticed a lot of companies are hiring internal communications. Traditionally, that role is a mix of HR and communication yet I’m seeing some changes.

The roles being unveiled now have sales enablement or marketing operations bent. In other words, rather than a vehicle for upper management to stay in touch with employees, these roles are evolving into consultative positions that help other employees understand the market, the buyer and get the message right.

One on hand, this sounds like a good idea. There is just more complexity in everything, and it is harder than ever to be a jack of all trades. Having an internal expert who’s curating the content a sales or marketing person needs at the right moment seems invaluable.

On the other hand, I hope this isn’t coming at the expense of the traditional role. Communication is a function of leadership. It’s crucial to share a vision and cultivate alignment.

And now onward with this month’s PR Tech Sum – a summary of useful news from the vendor community from the last month or so. Here’s the list of companies I’m watching and here’s how to get on my radar if you are a vendor.

>>> Need an extra pair of hands? Sword and the Script Media can help with B2B marketing, PR and social media.

Breaking: Burrelles to “exit the media monitoring business” after 130 years

After Todya’s PR Tech Sum post was published, I learned, and later confirmed, that Burrelles plans to shut down its media monitoring business on June 30, 2024. I’ve got a separate post running on this topic here: Burrelles to “exit media monitoring” after 130 years; the venerable newspaper clipping service shutters.

1. Staffbase offers toolset for planning, measuring internal comms

Staffbase, a German company that develops internal communications rolled out a new product it calls “Mission Control.” The tools are intended to function as a “navigation system” helping “communicators to plan, co-create and measure the impact” of employee communications and announcements read.

“It digitalizes planning and alignment processes around messaging, provides a space for collaboration for communications teams, enables publishing across channels, and finally aggregates results across channels into a dashboard that provides metrics around the organizational impact of these communications,” according to an email in response to questions from a spokesperson.

The company aims to solve two key problems facing internal communications with this launch. First, comms pros are “overwhelmed” and lack time to think and act strategically. Second, they don’t have a measurement system to “close the loop” and understand the impact of their work on employee engagement.

More specifically, the `will enable customers to do the following:

  • “Move away from planning singular content pieces toward planning comms grouped by topics (like DEI, sustainability, company-specific strategic initiatives, etc.) in line with their strategic objectives”;
  • “Co-create and collaborate across teams and channels in one, central location using task management and approval workflows, for example”;
  • “Achieve transparency across all internal and external channels, regions, and siloed comms teams to avoid comms overlaps and gaps”;
  • “Measure visibility, engagement, sentiment, and alignment related to their strategic topics using one intuitive, central dashboard.”

The product is positioned as an add-on to its existing platform and is free to existing customers as a beta through October 2024.

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2. Muck Rack teams up with Shankman

Muck Rack wasted no time in reaching out to Peter Shankman to partner up with his new HARO-like venture. The company announced that “HERO will integrate journalist profiles from Muck Rack’s industry-leading media database into its daily emails to subscribers, allowing PR professionals to easily research a querying journalist with one click.”

Shankman launched the new platform after hearing that Cision was shutting down Help a Reporter Out (HARO), which was a clever way of connecting reporters with sources. The former had, in my opinion, languished absent his involvement. Since that announcement, the product, HERO, was rebranded as Source of Sources (SoS).

The product is free for anyone. If you work in PR or want to be considered as a “source” you can sign up here. Reporters and journalists can also sign up to solicit sources for free.

Seems like a savvy move on Muck Rack’s part to me. They’ve done well to build a PR software system that offers value to journalists too – which no other vendor in the space does. The journalist profiles are a prime example and is also free for anyone to use with registration.

3. Agility parent touts big tech LLM deal

The parent company of Agility PR Solutions, Innodata, issued an ambiguous press release announcing it has been awarded two new large language model (LLM) development programs by one of its existing “Magnificent Seven” Big Tech customers. The announcement says the programs are poised to offer some $44 million in annual recurring revenue.

Why cover this? Well, Agility PR Solutions is the only PR technology vendor with its own LLM that I’m aware of. Every other company in this space that claims a generative AI feature is built on technology from OpenAI. We want and need competition in this space.

The reason I believe they are able to do this – as I’ve written many times over the last five years – is because they are able to capitalize on such initiatives from the parent company (this is a corporate strategy Innodata is doing in other verticals too).

In a separate but related announcement, Innodata announced an “Open-Source LLM Evaluation Toolkit.” The toolkit, the datasets, and the research are available on GitHub.

The financial performance of the parent company over the last five years has been impressive too. Sort of makes one wish you bought in at $1.20 per share.

4. Mentions

  • Meltwater announced an integration between Klear and its social media management tool. The company acquired Klear, an influencer marketing platform, in 2021 for ~$17 million.
  • Prowly rolled out an assistant based on generative AI for writing press releases. The tool will help brainstorm ideas by providing three different story angles around a concept, for example. It will also review content and offer suggestions.
  • Presspage rolled out “Presspage CONNECT” for PR shops that receive high volumes of media inquiries. The tool combined CRM-style features with workflow to support the process of responding to reporter questions.
  • Staffbase announced Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Frank Wolf has published a book titled, “The Narrative Age.”

5. Worth a read

  • 49% of 1,000 PR professionals surveyed cited “having enough resources” as their top challenge, according to Muck Rack.
  • 60% of 3,000 journalists surveyed said “Media downsizing and reduced resources” was their top challenge, according to Cision.

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>>> Need an extra pair of hands? Sword and the Script Media can help with B2B marketing, PR and social media.

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Image credit: Unsplash and respective companies

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