What Does PR Automation Mean for PR Pros?

What Does PR Automation Mean for PR Pros?

Our goal is to make the PR pro's life easier. That's why we believe PR automation greases the task wheel that falls to an often time-strapped communications team. Working smarter frees up PR folks to focus on what they do best, cultivating relationships and crafting messages.
Michelle Garrett
September 6, 2018

Public relations and automation don’t necessarily seem to go hand in hand.

There are some who feel PR automation strikes at the very heart of the profession – relations. After all, you can’t (or, at least you shouldn’t) automate your relationships with people.

But, while we wouldn’t want to automate everything, automation CAN be used to handle some of the “busy work” that goes along with a PR pro’s role.

When leveraged correctly, automating some tasks, like media monitoring, media outreach, social media, and reporting can save time while also improving planning and results.

“Using tools to automate our tasks helps us be smarter about our work while improving our productivity,” said Wendy Marx, president, Marx Communications.”It transforms PR from an intuitive art to a more rigorous profession backed by data and analytics.”

To get a better idea of how public relations practitioners are incorporating automation into their day-to-day work, here are some examples.

Media Outreach

Building media lists can be, well, tedious. With automation, it can be less so.

“After 10 years of manual searches to build outreach lists as a digital PR, automated list building has cut a job that used to take three days on average per release down to one morning’s work, max,” said Corinne Card, co-founder of Full Story Media.

Beyond the list building, there’s the follow-up. How can automation help? 

“By tracking who opened my pitches, I can tailor my follow-ups to reporters who may have glanced at my message and got sidetracked versus a message that was unopened, whether it’s because the reporter deleted the message without reading or it’s still waiting to be read,” Adam Yosim, Senior Account Executive, Stanton Communications.

Media Monitoring

How do PR pros possibly keep up with every publication, blog or program that may have mentioned their brands?

“Automated media mention reports every morning at 7 am allow me to start my day knowing what’s happening in clients’ industries,” Chloe DeYoung, PR manager, Element explains. “I get alerts for my clients, their spokespeople, industry news, and even competitor mentions.”

And automation has made the process of keeping track of press “clippings” much easier. 

“In my first co-op placement, I did the ‘clippings,’” says Celia Sollows, president, The Little Public Relations Company. “We received news mentions via fax, waded through several newspapers, cut out stories, pasted them on paper, then photocopied and delivered them. Word count and analysis was done manually. Today I log in to a platform and get stories plus analysis.”

Reporting

Automation can also simplify the reporting process for public relations professionals.

“Automation, if used correctly, can really help track campaign metrics,” says Kristina Markos M.L.S., communications instructor, Lasell College. “Having instant access to data and metrics is key.”

“When it comes time to report on our work as an agency, we’re able to see all-encompassing coverage, from traditional media, to social, to influencer content,” DeYoung says. “Then we work within analytics to track website visits and paths from our efforts.”

“We also automate keyword tracking for published content,” continues DeYoung. “We’re able to monitor at any moment where we’re ranking for all major search engines with our content. It shows how PR and SEO amplify each other.”

Social Media

Social media automation has changed the game for many a PR pro. Tools that allow brands to schedule posts to save time and enable them to draw more traffic to their site.

While automating social media posts IS convenient, it’s still important to engage with your followers.

“Social media is more than a dumping ground for links,” says Andy Crestodina, co-founder and chief marketing officer, Orbit Media. “It’s a place to have a conversation. If these automated social posts are the only thing in your stream, that’s not good.”

Planning

Automation even plays into planning a campaign for many in PR.

“Knowing what type of content is resonating with which audience during what specific time is everything,” said Lauren Cranston, PR and Social Media Specialist at Skyword. “Because social media activity fluctuates, having that automated information at my fingertips is essential to helping build strategy.”

Automation and PR Can Co-Exist

It’s pretty clear that automation and PR aren’t mutually exclusive. Public relations professionals can automate processes – while not only staying true to the relationship part of the profession but also empower PR’s workflow.

By using AI and PR/marketing automation, PR pros can do their job more efficiently and use the time to expand on a strategy that delivers results (while providing the data analytics that proves PR ROI).

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