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What Does PR Automation Mean for PR Pros?

Guv Callahan

May 24, 2024

The world moves a lot faster than it used to, and the impact of digital and social media has forced the role of PR professionals to evolve dramatically. Luckily, PR automation solutions have helped teams around the world adapt to the increasingly complicated media landscape.

The growing complexity of how information travels certainly hasn’t made communications teams any less strapped for time, but AI-powered technologies can help PR pros work smarter

Whether it’s pitching reporters, monitoring stories, strategizing campaigns, or proving ROI, PR automation tools can help communications professionals free up time and focus on what they do best—cultivating relationships and crafting messaging that will resonate.

Let’s explore some of the ways that PR automation can unlock communications teams’ productivity through AI and data-driven strategies.


How Do PR and Automation Fit Together?

As AI has grown in the public consciousness and become more commonplace in business settings, a common worry is that the technology will ultimately replace human professionals.

Sure, 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 certainly 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.”

AI-powered technology solutions like the Meltwater Suite can help PR professionals get more done and create a PR strategy that produces tangible business results. By automating tedious manual tasks and arming PR teams with hard data, Meltwater empowers you to build more focused media relations programs, better understand your audience, and make more informed decisions.

Let’s take a closer look at how public relations pros are incorporating automation into their day-to-day work with a few examples.

Media Outreach Automation

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

A technology like Meltwater’s Media Relations solution features a robust media database so PR professionals can be extremely focused in their outreach and pitching. Furthermore, our software automatically enriches the database’s journalist profiles with the latest information, and is regularly adding new contacts. 

Say goodbye to hours spent building a static media list — Meltwater makes that a thing of the past.

“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.

Optimizing outreach efforts

Beyond the list building, automation can also help PR professionals with follow-up, making it easier to optimize outreach across your entire team. A solution like Meltwater features a CRM-like tool, which helps synchronize your team’s media outreach efforts to avoid situations such as journalists being approached about the same story by two different team members. 

This also helps keep track of interactions with journalists, which makes it easier to build relationships with them because you have a record of all previous engagements. With Meltwater Media Outreach, you can also effortlessly track metrics like emails sent, open rate, bounce rate, and more. These solutions are meant to help save you time while also making your outreach more effective.

“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.

Relying on the latest technology, you and your team can spend less time on manual tasks. Solutions like Meltwater now leverage generative AI to automate press release production. By leveraging Chat GPT, Meltwater’s PR Assistant can draft an AI-written press release for you; simply give the system a natural-language explanation of what your release should be about, and the tool will draft the copy.

Media Monitoring Automation

The media landscape has only grown in its complexity over the past decade. PR professionals need to know who’s talking about their brands or clients across traditional news, social media, blogs, podcasts, online forums, and more. This begs the question—how on earth are you supposed to do that?

Monitor media sources at scale

Luckily, modern technologies can help automate the media monitoring process, combing through all of that data to find your team the right stories you need to inform your PR strategy.

A tool like Meltwater’s Media Monitoring solution scans more than 270,000 news sources across the globe. Plus, you can choose up to 15 different social media channels to monitor at any given time.

“Automated media mention reports every morning at 7 a.m. 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.”

Modern PR technologies can automate the process of collecting “clippings” so that teams can focus more of their time on creating effective campaigns and crafting relevant messaging instead of sifting through the news of the day. Furthermore, AI can scan all of that content and analyze it for mentions, sentiment, and more.

“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.”

How AI helps crisis monitoring

Automating this process is especially important when it comes to crisis management. 

With Meltwater’s social listening solution, PR professionals can build searches for your brand name and any other relevant keywords (e.g. product names, senior executives, etc.) that are likely to be mentioned when people are discussing your business and industry. You can also set alerts to be sent out to key stakeholders when there are any unusual spikes of those terms being discussed in social media. 

Tip: Check out our blog to learn how to create media monitoring analysis reports.

PR Reporting Automation

PR professionals need to be able to demonstrate the success of their efforts and show conclusive evidence that public relations delivers tangible business results. Unfortunately, the reporting process can often be a pain point for many PR teams.

But new technologies can automate much of the reporting process so PR pros always have access to dynamic, up-to-date metrics on their performance.

“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.”

The power of customizable dashboards

A solution like Meltwater gives PR teams access to customizable dashboards via our Analyze tool. With Meltwater, you can seamlessly track a wide variety of metrics critical to PR pros, including:

  • Media exposure
  • Advertising value equivalency (AVE)
  • Sentiment
  • Social media reach
  • Share of voice

Our customizable dashboards are always updated with live data from whatever timescale your team chooses, whether that’s days, months, or even year-over-year. That way, you get the latest, most relevant information in a matter of seconds.

“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.”

You can use these dashboards to build automated reports that are emailed at regular intervals. Plus, fresh media coverage can be shared via email with colleagues in an automated newsletter format, ensuring that the PR team's successes are consistently highlighted within the business.

Social Media Automation

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.”

Furthermore, technologies like Meltwater can help you automate the reporting on your social media initiatives. 

Our platform allows you to track your posts' performance in real time. You can see individual channel performance as well as a cross-channel view that highlights the top content across all your social channels, both paid and organic. You can also break out analytics to follow a specific campaign and compare those results against your normal social programing.

PR Planning Automation

Automation plays a vital role in planning your campaigns and PR strategy. PR pros need to understand the topics that audiences care about and the conversations happening online that your brand could be a part of.

A social listening solution like Meltwater could help you tap into these conversations. This allows you to keep track of trending topics so you can jump on stories before your competitors. 

Leveraging automation and data-backed strategies to capitalize on trends will help your brand stay visible in the vast online media landscape, as well as show that your team has a finger on the pulse of your audience’s interests.

“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 Should Co-Exist

The world’s leading PR agencies are leveraging automation and AI to plan campaigns, monitor media sources, provide holistic reporting, and much more. In today’s fast-paced online media environment, it’s simply too much for any one team to stay on top of all of these tasks without some help from technology. 

Technologies like Meltwater can help PR professionals automate processes, make more informed decisions, achieve better results, and provide the data and analytics that prove the ROI of PR strategies

That way, teams can be more efficient while staying true to the relationship-building at the core of the profession.

Learn more about how Meltwater can help you automate PR processes when you fill out the form below: