Reputation dictates revenue. Public relations is no longer a nice-to-have or a necessity only for large corporations. Now, it’s a must-have for every business, from startups to global enterprises.
As we see the field of PR expanding to take on the reputation-building and management of companies and individuals alike, journalists and newswires are getting bombarded with press releases.
In the heyday of newspapers and traditional media, the press release was the proverbial golden ticket. It was a direct line to journalists, gatekeepers of the public’s attention. Well-crafted releases were the PR professional’s bread and butter, ensuring that a company’s narrative stood out amidst the clamor of daily news. It was straightforward: craft a compelling story, reach out to the right journalists, and hope it finds a spot in tomorrow’s paper.
Then came the digital age. In a world awash with tweets, podcasts, and 24-hour news channels, the humble press release found itself in an existential crisis as the PR landscape experienced seismic shifts. Suddenly, everyone had a platform, and the traditional press release had to compete with instant updates. The challenge grew for brands; not only did they need to craft a great story, but they needed to make sure it reached the right people at the right time through the right medium.
And many brands are not up for the challenge.
While the PR landscape has expanded, and the media has become more noisy and complicated, most PR professionals are still operating as if nothing’s changed. Their press releases are—frankly—boring, but it’s not always their fault. Time and time again, we here at Zen Media work with businesses who want to bring funding announcements, changes in leadership, and new product features to the media, but the truth is—unless you’re an Apple, Amazon, or Google—these company announcements simply are not newsworthy.
So what is?
Up until now, identifying what is and is not newsworthy was sort of like identifying what counts as art—you know it when you see it. And our PR experts can always tell.
For a long time, we’ve been content with the “know it when you see it” mentality, but recently, we’ve begun questioning it. That kind of intuition, as invaluable as it’s been, isn’t enough in today’s digital whirlpool of information.
What is it about a story that grabs our attention? How do we differentiate real news from cringy clickbait? How does the context around an announcement impact our interest?
There are a number of answers:
- It depends on the audience. What is news to me might not be news to you. Certainly, there are topics that captivate the public and compel us all to tune in, but most of the time, stories have specific audiences.
- It depends on the quality of the writing. Grammar and punctuation are a given, but just because something is error-free doesn’t mean it’s interesting.
- It depends on the zeitgeist. What is going on in the world right now, and how does your press release tie to trending topics?
Through discussing and analyzing these answers, the “you know it when you see it” mindset transformed into a set of characteristics—traits necessary for a newsworthy press release and traits you should avoid.
And like the media specialists we are, our next step was to jump on a trend—AI.
Can we use all of these discussions, analyses, and outcomes to create an AI that helps us become more efficient and effective when writing and pitching press releases?
In short: Yes.
Snooze or News, our first-of-its-kind artificial intelligence PR tool, was born out of these discussions.
What is Snooze or News?
It’s funny that AI should be the structure that binds and organizes our PR discussions and turns them into usable data since AI has been the trending news story of 2023 (and 2022). We’ve all questioned how AI can be leveraged in our respective fields, what risks there are to using it, and how to blend the human with the artificial.
Many purport that they can tell when something is AI-generated vs. human-generated, and we don’t recommend AI-generating press releases. But AI does have amazing capabilities that, when programmed and leveraged correctly, can really help PR professionals improve their press release writing—and we aren’t just talking about employing Grammarly or ChatGPT to tell when a comma is in the wrong place.
Snooze of News’ keynote feature is its capability to grade the newsworthiness of a press release, breaking down its evaluation from an overall grade and four subgrades for clarity, novelty, spelling and grammar, and AP style. Like the ChatGPTs of the world, Snooze or News learns from what is currently being published, and along with a grade (and suggestions for improving that grade), the AI makes suggestions about which audiences the release might appeal to and which publications to pitch to based on where similar recent stories have gained traction.
It’s an odd thing to create a matrix for what is “newsworthy” or “good” and then to put your own work to the test. Even knowing the traits of a strong press release and marking them off one by one during the writing process, there is still always room for improvement.
And that is the goal, in the end—to improve.
With the right technology, we can elevate press releases—and the news they create—across the board. We can do away with boring press releases that don’t get picked up and dry news stories that don’t get read. We can put an end to fluff and clickbait.
As B2B PR continues to grow in importance, we need to grow in our capabilities as storytellers and strategists. And AI can help.
AI for PR: How to Leverage Snooze or News in Your PR Strategy
Use Case 1: Crisis Communications
Identifying High-Stake Scenarios
Imagine this: your company is about to make an announcement that involves discontinuing a popular product line. Traditional PR wisdom might dictate crafting a press release to soften the blow, presenting it as a positive move for the company’s growth. But in the age of instant reactions and trending hashtags, how do you gauge the public sentiment this news will evoke? Could it snowball into a crisis you didn’t see coming?
Snooze or News can function as your first line of defense. By scanning and assessing the potential newsworthiness and impact of your release, it will evaluate the extent to which it could impact public and media attention—giving you a chance to get ahead of the kind of attention you might not want for your brand.
But what if the crisis is already unfolding? The 24/7 news cycle waits for no one. The real-time feedback provided by Snooze or News can guide your crisis communications team in tailoring the messaging for follow-up announcements, official statements, or even social media responses so that they align with the ongoing narrative.
Use Case 2: Audience Engagement
Identifying What Resonates
Engaging an audience in today’s saturated media landscape is a high-wire act. How can you break through the noise to deliver a message that not only resonates but compels action? The era of throwing content against the wall to see what sticks is over.
Using its AI-driven insights, Snooze or News goes deep into the weeds to analyze what topics are most likely to engage your audience. Leveraging current data, it scans trends and benchmarks them against your past releases, offering a predictive look into how your upcoming news might perform.
Refine Messages for Different Audience Segments
One size does not fit all when it comes to a strategic PR strategy. A message that might inspire one demographic could land as flat as a pancake with another. With Snooze or News, you can segment your audiences and tailor your messaging for each. The AI tool takes into account factors such as past engagement, prevalent trends in the segment, and even the nuances of tone and style that resonate with different audiences. Think of it as your personal PR stylist, suggesting tweaks and changes that can elevate your content from ho-hum to headline-worthy.
A/B Testing of Messages
What if you have multiple messaging strategies and you’re not sure which will have the most impact? In traditional PR, you might rely on intuition or past experiences. But with Snooze or News, you can run hypothetical A/B tests on different messages and strategies.
The AI can simulate how different versions of the press release might perform, gauging their newsworthiness, engagement potential, and fit with various media outlets. This kind of predictive analysis can offer invaluable insights before you hit send, potentially saving time and resources while maximizing impact.
Use Case 3: Competitor Benchmarking
Gauge the Newsworthiness of Competitor Releases
Just like you can run your own press releases through Snooze or News for a real-time newsworthiness assessment, you can do the same for releases issued by your competitors. Simply input their content into the tool, and it will generate grades for clarity, novelty, spelling and grammar, and AP style—just as it would for your own releases. The tool can help you understand which aspects of a competitor’s announcement are strong and where they falter, offering you a metric-based comparative analysis that was previously hard to achieve.
Identifying Gaps in Your Own PR Strategy Compared to Competitors
Once you have a snapshot of how your competitors are doing in the PR arena, you can look back at your own strategy and identify gaps. Are your competitors consistently ranking higher in terms of newsworthiness or clarity? Do they have a knack for tying their announcements to trending topics, thereby reaching a broader audience? These insights help you discover not only where you stand but also where you need to improve to get a leg up in the industry.
Knowledge is power, and with the insights garnered from Snooze or News, you can develop a more focused and strategic response to competitor announcements. For example, if you notice a competitor is generating a lot of buzz by focusing on a specific issue or topic that you’ve not covered, you could decide to address it in your future releases or campaigns.
Use Case 4: Amplifying New Product Launches
Identify the Best Outlets and Audiences for Your Announcement
Snooze or News doesn’t just evaluate press releases; it also offers intelligent suggestions on where and how to pitch your announcements for maximum impact. The AI analyzes current media trends and other variables to offer you a list of outlets and audience segments that are most likely to find your product launch newsworthy. It will also identify the audience segments that are most likely to be engaged by your product’s features or benefits.
In a constantly evolving digital landscape, PR professionals can’t afford to rely solely on intuition and traditional tactics. The influx of information and the growing complexity of the media ecosystem demand more sophisticated, data-driven strategies. The ability to not only create compelling stories but also to evaluate their potential impact, fine-tune messaging, and gauge the competitive landscape is no longer optional—it’s essential.
Give Snooze or News a try today to see how it can impact your PR strategy.