Software is Eating PR

Once a lusty slogan, usually accompanied by burning torches and hoarse shouts, the rallying cry of ‘Software is Eating PR’ has become more than a cry. It has become real. The rumblings started with platforms like Muckrack, which automated the way we discovered journalists who might be interested in what we do, make or promote. The rumblings got louder with justreachout.io, and have become something you can’t just ignore with pressrush.com and inkybee.com.

These platforms, good examples of SaaS (Software as a Service), make a search and discover mission that used to take half a day take about 2 minutes.  You pop in some keywords, then the platforms return a list of journalists who have written about those things. Also their emails, most of the time. Pressrush does a great job of helping you interact with the journalist, smoothing the process of sending a pitch that will be read.  Add in Boomerang or YesMail, and you can schedule when your messages go out, also increasing the chances they’ll be read.

It’s exciting, is creating new business models for me and for others, and is only missing one thing.

Relationships.

About the only thing old-timey PR folks have left are the existing relationships among them and journalists or bloggers. In a perfect PR world, there is an agreement between them. The PR person knows the journalist pretty well, maybe even has shared a couple of drinks, and the journalist knows that when that PR person calls, it’s going to be with a good story. That’s a great relationship to have. Unfortunately for the networks of PR agents, that kind of relationship is slowly eroding. It is becoming less and less valuable because the PR agents aren’t getting any younger, while the journalists are. More importantly, journalists and bloggers (particularly) are seeking stories to write about just where the rest of  us are seeking information: On Google, on social media, in conversations, on blogs. The stories are posted faster, and there are a lot more of them. There are more freelancers, more creative outsourcing, and the masthead – the roster of talent – is changing often. Stories are vetted and fact-checked by conversations still, thankfully, but also by online searches.

As that continues, we will really see software eat PR. The data set will come close to trumping relationships, because of speed, because of reach, because of agility.

I don’t mind. ‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,’ wrote Shakespeare in ‘Henry VI,’ putting the words on the mouth of a ruffian. Scholars are divided on this one, but some say that the Bard was trying give lawyers a reverse compliment of sorts.  Having a bad guy knock them showed how good they were.  I’m thinking about starting my class about PR and software with this line anyway, but changing it to ‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the gatekeepers.’