I recently came across some interesting statistics on chatbots that show 77 percent of people who engage with a customer service chatbot find the experience frustrating. Another 88 percent say they would rather speak to someone than deal with artificial intelligence.

To add an interesting spin to the study, the article reporting the stats also shared that 35 percent of people say chatbots solve their problems effectively most of the time. Chatbots aren’t rejected because they are incompetent; rather, it’s because they aren’t human.

This study contains important intel for PR professionals seeking to capture media attention. We live in the age of automation, and with the explosive growth of AI-based tech, it is easier than ever to delegate our communication to digital assistants. We can even unleash AI-driven chatbots to manage our customer service effectively, gaining a ton of efficiency and saving money.

However, what often looks efficient from our side of the relationship comes across as frustrating on the other side. As the stats show, consumers don’t like it, and the media contacts we court with our PR efforts don’t like it, either. In the same way capturing customer loyalty is done with human customer service agents, capturing and keeping media attention is done with a personalized, authentic, human connection.

Here are some steps you can take when writing pitches and news releases to leverage human connections and capture media attention.

Prioritize Targeted Pitches Over News Releases

Recent reports suggest news releases are dead. Although I don’t hold that opinion, I believe the age of automation has made them far less effective than they once were.

Today’s technology makes writing and delivering news releases far too easy, meaning the average media outlet is buried in them daily. Finding valuable news in the daily deluge of news releases is like finding a needle in a haystack; no reporter or editor has time to sift through haystacks.

As an alternative, targeted pitches pack more power. News releases — at least in the way they are typically deployed — are a type of media carpet bombing, whereas targeted pitches are more like sniper fire that identifies and focuses on one particular target, delivering a personalized impact that is difficult to ignore.

Targeted pitches tell a reporter you took the time to understand their audience and show you considered your news in their context. News releases say you are in a hurry and want them to figure it out.

Present Your Message in a Compelling Way

My PR firm has worked with hundreds of clients. Many are doing exciting work, developing innovative offerings, reshaping their industries, and aiming to change the world.

But some clients aren’t as exciting. It’s not that their work isn’t important; it’s just that it isn’t always as newsworthy. Although winning for those clients is harder, it’s not impossible. Crafting a compelling message that captures media attention requires a little more work.

To craft compelling stories that result in media wins, three “whys” must be addressed. First, you need to communicate why your story is important.

A client who provides retirement planning services doesn’t generate the same natural interest as the one developing AI-driven applications that detect cancer in its earliest phases. Still, you can find a reason why retirement planning is compelling, especially in an age when stats show more than half of Americans are concerned that they don’t have the financial reserves they need to retire comfortably.

Secondly, you must communicate why your message is important now. Media outlets share a lot of evergreen content, but that is easy to come by, so you have to give them something timely to capture their attention. For instance, you can explain that the insights your retirement planner has to share align perfectly with the evolving news on the Silver Tsunami.

Thirdly, clearly express how your story is important to the outlet’s audience. This component may be obvious if you are already focused on targeted pitches. Still, it doesn’t hurt to remind an outlet that your client’s story fits perfectly with their audience — whether due to its topic, geographical significance, demographic fit, or another key element.

Invest In Relationships With Journalists

Strong media relationships accomplish two key goals in the PR world. First, they make it easier to get your message through. Suppose you have a long-standing relationship with a media contact through which you have consistently and helpfully provided relevant content. In that case, they will prioritize your pitches over those of a stranger.

Second, strong media relationships give you greater insight into the pitches that will land with your contacts. Knowing a reporter covers financial topics is good. Knowing they specialize in fintech is great, but knowing they are about to launch into a new series of articles on fintech and are looking for sources to comment on fintech ethics is even better.

Investing in relationships with media contacts positions you as a source who can provide valuable help rather than a publicist who needs help promoting a client. It also helps you understand more fully how to target your pitches to attract media attention.

Use Social Media and Influencers

Connecting with today’s media means engaging with more than just news outlets. Social media offers just as powerful a forum for promoting messages as traditional media. Consider that Instagram has two billion active monthly users, while The Wall Street Journal has only 3.5 million readers. In that case, you might decide social media is more powerful for getting your message out.

To attract attention in the social media space, apply the same strategy you employ for news reporters to social influencers. Build a relationship with them by taking the time to understand what they talk about, how they talk about it, and who they talk to. When you share info, ensure it is targeted by positioning yourself as someone with content that can improve the service influencers provide to their followers.

Pitches and news releases are valuable tools for capturing media attention but must be deployed intelligently. Investing in strong relationships with media contacts and delivering compelling content significantly increases your chances of seeing media wins. Show that you can help the media to achieve their goals and they will be more willing to help you to achieve yours.

Scott Bartnick

Scott Bartnick, Co-founder and CEO of Otter PR, is an internationally renowned e-commerce and media expert who has been recognized worldwide for his business acumen. Bartnick owns several successful eCommerce companies and has been recognized for his innovative lifestyle. Barnick is the bestselling author of “The FiveDay Startup” and has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, IBTimes, Yahoo, and more for his business success. Bartnick has extensive and diverse experience with eCommerce consulting, operational excellence, public relations, sales, and marketing. He holds a degree from the University of Florida in industrial and systems engineering. In his free time, he’s traveled to over 35 countries with hopes of visiting every continent. He’s passionate about fitness and health and loves to snowboard.

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