This capstone examines how public relations professionals can use marketing automation for media relations. By using automation technology, professionals can eliminate time-consuming efforts not backed by data. It is undeniable that the art of public relations relies on personal relationships and genuine human interaction to remain authentic and effectively communicate. However, there is room for growth and opportunity to use automation to generate intelligent content that is relevant to the target audience (journalists and influencers, among other constituents). This capstone seeks to illustrate that there is room for both personal connection and automation, so long as both are relevant and meet the needs of the business and its target audience. Furthermore, automation can be used to identify opportunities for personal interaction and automate other processes that manually take up the limited time of public relations professionals.
Some may argue that marketing automation should remain with marketing. The technology has complex capabilities surrounding demand generation, attribution models, revenue metrics, and more. However, it is worthwhile to consider at least how marketing automation can be used to enhance accuracy, efficiency, and result in more effective communication. Skeptics might argue that nothing can replace the quality of manual labor. The author will highlight opportunities where automation can be more efficient than humans. By automating some of the work, humans can spend more time on creative thinking and personal touches needed to make campaigns even better. At its core, marketing automation takes information known about the target audience and uses it to make informed decisions about how to communicate with the specific target. There is room for such technology in the public relations space, which this capstone will illustrate.
Before diving into secondary research, the author will lay out the critical components of automation for media relations. For those unfamiliar with the technology, this section will provide a quick overview of terms and highlight important aspects of the technology that apply to media relations and news distribution.
In the secondary research section, there will be examples of companies that offer services that include automation. However, these offerings are not nearly as advanced for public relations as it is for sales or marketing, and the author will point out areas of opportunity for growth throughout the capstone. The secondary research also covers insights about journalists and their relationships with news distribution services. Major players in the news distribution field have published studies providing insights about how journalists and the media are using technology. This research was immensely helpful in providing insight into how automation can be used to serve this community.
The author went through an extensive content analysis process to understand the news distribution platforms and the kinds of services offered. She signed up for services offered through Cision, Business Wire, Muck Rack, and more when available to get a first-hand experience of what it would be like for a journalist seeking information. The author believes her research findings heavily support her hypothesis. She also believes there is a great opportunity for news distribution services to utilize existing automation technology to improve platforms. By doing so, it can empower both public relations professionals and journalists to use data to improve communications.
As a contribution to the field, the author developed service ideas for how to apply automation to public relations. One idea is an email built with dynamic content and its resulting versions. Dynamic content is a type of technology that will be explained thoroughly in the Critical Components to Automation for Media Relations section. The author also recognizes the difficulty in keeping track of journalists. To address this issue, she proposes a social media login integration for any news distribution service seeking to get the most up to date information. Another critical aspect of automation is an email preference center, which will be covered in the Critical Comments to Automation for Media Relations section. The contributions will include a sample of how an email preference center would look. The last contribution to the field will be a sample of a lead scoring model tailored for journalists.
As cybersecurity and privacy continue to be important topics of conversations happening in the world today, some may argue that using automation crosses a line with privacy. These concerns are important to acknowledge because this capstone deals with many discrete ways to collect data. The benefit of this subtle data collection is it makes it easier to understand journalists and influencers more thoroughly, without effort from them. There is no need to fill out forms or keep profiles up to date. In the conclusion of this capstone, the author will address these concerns and give a rationale for supporting automation for media relations.