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Keeping The Technology In Tech (Or Any Other) PR

TechPR.toolsTaking the Tech Out of Tech PR” has some useful advice for PR agency professionals, mostly about keeping communications personal and not abusing email outreach. It can’t be said often enough. We monitor an inbox for a major technology news site, and the quantity of PR pitches that come in through it is truly staggering. So is the variation in quality. But that’s another post.

It’s true that automation can only go so far in a professional services business like PR, and that mass email is overused in media relations. But overall, I’d say many technology PR practitioners should make a greater effort to explore and embrace technology when it comes to emerging tools and methods for getting the job done.

As Tom Foremski points out, Bill Gates recently predicted that most jobs will be automated in 20 years’ time. Is our work so distinct that it’s immune? Are we assuming that a degree of automation is a bad thing?

Given the huge – and sometimes alarming – strides toward automation that have been made in digital advertising and media, PR, by contrast, has not embraced technology tools beyond mass emails and news sites. Can we automate without sacrificing quality and insight?

One way is in outcomes measurement, of course. As an industry, we’re moving, albeit slowly, towards a standardized marketing mix model that can actually quantify the impact of any individual marketing activity on sales volume. But can our day-to-day work be optimized by technology tools? The answer is yes, and below are three simple ways to get started.

Market intelligence. This is intuitive for PR professionals, and most of us are already familiar with basic (and free) tools like Google Trends, IFTTT, and others. There are countless apps and other resources that allow us to more easily harness the power of the web, but the most useful boil down to a handful.

Content marketing. Another organic move for PR, since content creation is familiar, and content marketing is a natural way to extend services beyond earned media relations. We create great stuff for use by media outlets or social sharing; why not use technology to amplify its reach? Content marketing is essentially the art of making it easier for those interested in your subject matter to search and find your content on the web. Hubspot calls it “inbound marketing” and offers tools designed for small businesses, but anyone with basic web skills can undertake it.

Marketing automation.  It’s tough for brand marketing PR to drive lead generation, particularly in the consumer sector. But when earned media is tied to marketing automation – a more highly personalized and behavior-driven form of email and web marketing – then the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. A click on an article (or native ad) can segment the user and trigger options for relevant content that can gradually move  him right down that marketing funnel.

A review of more sophisticated tech resources makes one thing pretty obvious; the tools help us adapt to a changing media environment and specifically extend beyond earned media generation, but they don’t necessarily automate what we do on a daily basis. The creative skills, critical judgment, and relationships that a top PR professional brings to the table aren’t likely to be replaced by technology any time soon. As for the rest, we’re learning fast.

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