Can Public Relations Be Automated?

By Bill Hankes on October 18, 2016

I was asked to help organize a panel discussion at the Seattle Interactive Conference, which is scheduled to start this morning, about the future of public relations and whether or not there is room for automation in a field that has long been thought to be more art than science.

Public relations is one of the last bastions of manual process left in the enterprise. While other marketing disciplines have benefited from new channels, tools and analytics, the PR industry is largely made up of the same tools that have existed for more than a decade.

This morning, however, I and a small handful of startups in the emerging PR Tech space will take the stage to talk about what’s wrong with the PR industry today, and what new tools and measurement systems are available to help companies and agencies.

Our approaches are varied and sometimes even competitive, but we share a common passion for improving the way in which businesses engage with journalists, and how these same companies can make more effective use of their marketing and communications budgets.

Here’s a look at the panel:

Rebekah Iliff is Chief Strategy Officer at AirPR, a PR Tech company that enables data-driven brands and organizations to measure the impact of their PR efforts. I first read about Rebekah and AirPR in what I consider to be the seminal article on PR Tech written by venture capitalist Bryan Stolle.

Joel Andren is the Founder and CEO of PressFriendly, PR automation software that helps companies build and manage media outreach campaigns. I heard about PressFriendly from a Silicon Valley angel investor who heard my presentation at a 500 Startups event.

Matthew Ashworth is the Vice President of Porter Novelli’s Technology practice in Seattle, and someone who knows well the problems in today’s industry. In fact, hearing Matt talk about the challenges he faces day-to-day was the genesis of this session. He is going to moderate the panel.

And lastly, I, as someone who regularly works with journalists in their news discovery process, hope to advocate a shift in focus from the corporate agenda to one that is journalist-centric. 

I’m looking forward to learning from these sharp professionals, and meeting as many people at SIC as possible. 

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