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Leveraging AI for PR Outreach and Content

Public relations (PR) is all about managing communications and building relationships between an organisation and its key audiences. In today’s fast-paced digital world, PR professionals are constantly looking for ways to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently. That’s where leveraging AI for PR comes in. AI is transforming the practice of PR in exciting new ways. Here’s an overview of how AI is revolutionising public relations.

Leveraging AI for PR with Optimising Content Creation

One of the core tasks of PR is creating compelling content like press releases, blog posts, speeches, and more. AI tools are now helping PR pros research, write, and optimise content faster than ever before. AI content creation tools use natural language generation to transform raw data into well-written narratives. They can churn out draft blog posts and press releases in seconds based on a few prompts. PR professionals can then review the AI-generated content, edit as needed, and have high-quality drafts ready in a fraction of the time.

AI tools are also optimising content for SEO by analysing keyword usage, readability, and structure. This helps maximize search traffic and engagement. With AI, PR teams can produce more content targeted to their audiences’ needs and interests.

Enhancing Media Monitoring and Analysis

Monitoring news and social media for relevant mentions is essential for PR teams. In the past, this was an extremely manual and time-intensive process. With AI tools, media monitoring is now automated and analytics enhanced. AI can track brand mentions across millions of online sources in real-time. Natural language processing analyses tone, sentiment, keywords, trends, and more. These AI insights allow PR professionals to instantly spot opportunities, risks, and areas needing response. AI analytics also enable better evaluation of PR campaigns by providing comprehensive feedback on content performance.

Leveraging AI for PR can Improve Media Targeting

PR relies heavily on building relationships with the press. In the past, PR pros would manually research journalists and outlets to identify the best targets for their stories. Today, AI is automating this process through machine learning algorithms. PR teams can input information like their client, industry, campaign goals, and ideal audience. AI tools will then suggest the journalists and media outlets most likely to be interested based on past coverage, influence, and reach. This allows PR pros to pitch stories precisely to the right targets for the campaign.

Automating Repetitive Tasks

Leveraging AI for PR can assist with many routine PR tasks like sending pitches, compiling clips and reports, scheduling social media posts, etc. can now be automated with AI. This allows human PR professionals to focus their time on strategy, creativity, relationship building, and analysis instead of administrative work. AI chatbots can even handle some basic PR functions like responding to media inquiries, creating media lists, or sending follow-up emails. While AI excels at repetitive tasks, strategic thinking still requires human expertise. Finding the right balance is key to improving productivity.

The Future of AI in PR

AI adoption in PR is still in early stages but advancing rapidly. According to Business Insider Intelligence, nearly 80% of PR professionals already use some form of AI. As the technology improves, AI will become integral to PR workflows. Specific applications on the horizon include hyper-targeted ad campaigns through AI prediction models, personalized PR content tailored to individual media contacts using natural language generation, and fully automated PR response using chatbots.

While some fear AI will replace human jobs, most experts agree it will simply change roles. AI handles time-consuming grunt work, enabling PR professionals to focus on strategy, creativity and building meaningful relationships. This symbiosis of human and artificial intelligence holds exciting potential for the future of public relations.

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BRC August 2023 industry update

Television Universe Update

In order to provide a much-needed 2023 television universe update, the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRC) commissioned a new Television Establishment Survey (ES).

The Television universe was updated in October 2020; however, much has happened over the past three years. It remains critical that all changes in South African viewership be reflected in the universe.

With a sample of 8 000, comprising of 5 000 face-to-face and 3 000 online interviews, the results of the new Television ES have already been validated and have passed scrutiny. The dataset will be made available to the industry on the 11th of September. The BRC is aiming to engage with the industry at the end of September 2023 regarding the TAMS universe update. All media agencies will be granted six weeks for scrutiny and planning prior to the universe update taking effect.

Future Proofing Video Measurement

The new ES data results indicate that there is definite movement within the realm of video viewing. Because of this, new entrants into the marketplace and loadshedding, the BRC are currently reviewing an SDK (Software Development Kit) implementation, which will allow for measurement of streaming, OTT, alternative devices and out of home viewing.

The SDK will be incorporated at a publisher level, resulting in a census output – all traffic across all opted-in publishers. A panel in excess 10 000 respondents will serve as the source of demographic profiling for the census data, a cookie match approach, with the weighting based on the BRC’s latest Television ES. Setup will commence in Q4 2023.

RAMS Amplify™

Regarding RAMS Amplify™ Reach and Frequency, the BRC’s CEO, Gary Whitaker says that the final validations are being carried out by external auditors. The Radio Research Technical Committee will get a first look at the data before it is released to the industry. The BRC confirms that it will happen before the end of August.


Additionally, as part of the BRC update, they have confirmed that they will be using the new TV ES as the base survey for the next data Fusion project. Fusion matches respondents from different surveys and combines them into a single dataset. The intention, in the future, is to make use of the Marketing Research Foundation’s (MRF), MAPS (Marketing All Product Survey) data as the base survey. The next iteration of Fusion is expected to be available at the end of January 2024.

In Summary

“It makes sense to use MAPS as the base survey in any fused data project as the survey’s underlying processes, procedures, and protocols have recently been audited and the data it provides is stable and accurate,” says Whitaker. “There is a lot happening in the background at the BRC and in partnership with various stakeholders we’re happy to be delivering South African broadcasting’s single source of truth when it comes to television and radio media currencies – crucial for media audience research.”

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The latest strategic decision-making MAPS® data is now available

The Marketing Research Foundation’s (MRF) latest iteration of MAPS (Marketing All Product Survey) data has been released. Interesting changes in consumer behaviour has come to light, especially over the past two years providing marketers with a strategic decision-making viewpoint.

The July release which, for the first time, enables users to compare two calendar years of data, delivers a national survey of 20 000 interviews which includes insights into respondents’ brand interaction across more than 3 376 brands.

MAPS validated by audit

A recent audit on the survey’s underlying processes, procedures, and protocols, by auditors 3M3A found that MAPS is of a “high standard”, healthy and in a good place. Some technical adjustments have improved the accuracy and stability of MAPS, ensuring that the MRF can ultimately deliver on the goal of making MAPS a world class survey enabling strategic decision making.

The MRF’s CEO, Johann Koster says, “There have been many data releases recently from various organisations and it can become a little confusing as the data to many are not comparable. It is therefore important to understand where the MAPS research fits into the South African research sphere. The scope of MAPS is huge and includes life stages and lifestyles, financials, media consumption and consumer purchasing behaviours.”

“MAPS is a strategic tool; it is not a media currency,” adds Virginia Hollis, Chairperson of the MRF. “The insights from MAPS offer a detailed view of consumer behaviour across media, finance, retail and many other sectors, additionally, MAPS covers the entire age 15+ population, not just a section of South Africa.”

The MRF are in the process of having discussions with the Broadcast Research Council (BRC) and the Publisher Research Council (PRC) to become the industry hub survey for fusion with currencies and other industry research to provide a single source of consumer data. “These discussions are going well and are looking very positive,” says Hollis.

Fieldwork Landscape

Two research collection instruments are used for the MAPS study, over 20 000 face-to-face interviews and nearly 11 000 product and brand diaries have been completed during 2022. The two formats are integrated into a full sample by means of fusion. Sampling includes a distribution of 50% metro, 30% urban and 20% rural, validated by GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping.

Personal and household incomes decline

The survey has found that average personal income over the two-year period of 2021 and 2022 had declined from R4 883 to R4 438 while average household income has declined from R11 648 to R9 973. 2022 saw less people unemployed, more retirees, more self-employed and more students. More undergraduate degrees were achieved while diplomas and post-graduate degrees remained the same.

The impact of change in the economic landscape between 2020 and 2022 has become very clear to see. The effects saw fewer impulse buying opportunities, a shift in shopping patterns from instore to online, an increase in dependents other than own household and careful buying became the order of the day – the result – behaviour shifts in volume and cost-effective purchasing or thrift shopping.

Effects on consumers can be seen through quarterly data tracking

The effects on consumers and changes in product consumption and spending patterns are also clear to see especially when viewed through the lens of quarterly data tracking. For example, overall, the average monthly clothing or apparel expenditure decreased by just over half from R2 736 to R1 329 over the two-year period, but what is apparent in the quarterly data tracking is that the expenditure is showing signs of recovery from Q2 in 2022.

The data also indicates that while brand loyalty is on the rise, consumers are more willing to abandon a particular brand if it becomes too expensive.

Media landscape

Not only has the environment affected the economic landscape but media consumption too. 2022 saw never-before loadshedding stages and a massive upward trend of Gigawatt Hours (GWh) being shed especially in the second half of 2022 with huge impacts on consumer media consumption.

Since the easing of lockdown, the data confirms that consumers have been spending more time getting back to activities outside their homes. Clear upward trends are noticed for out-of-home engagements including gardening, running errands (school runs and shopping for example) and traveling to and from work. Other MAPS ‘time spent’ data points include, but are not limited to, checking social media, playing computer games, just ‘surfing’ the internet, watching TV (further segmented into watching sport or not) and listening to radio.

Year-on-year media penetration shifts saw a massive increase in online activities while traditional media, TV, radio and print saw various levels of decline.

Strategic decision-making for brands

MAPS delves deeply into brands and services. Financial service questions relate to commercial banking, financial services, saving and investment behaviour, stokvels and SASSA grants. Retail questions include household purchasing behaviour, products and brands, malls visited and fast-food purchasing behaviours. For example, the percentage of the population that used hair styling products decreased from 16% to 14% over the two-year period.

Hollis reiterates,” MAPS is an indispensable strategic tool in decision making, providing the ability to track shifts in behaviour and consumptions patterns of the South African consumer. Our vision for MAPS is to help business’ make better decisions.  It has been designed specifically for marketers, media strategists/planners independently from any commercial interests. Our goal is for MAPS to be the single source of consumer data that marketers and agencies can rely on.

Thank you to our users and subscribers, stakeholders, the MRF board, the volunteers and Plus094 Research in this massive undertaking for getting MAPS published on a quarterly basis.”

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The Power of Mental Availability in Public Relations

Public relations is all about managing perceptions and building strong, positive associations for a brand in the minds of key audiences. Two important concepts that PR professionals should understand are mental availability and distinctive assets.

What is Mental Availability?

Mental availability refers to how easily a brand comes to mind for consumers in a particular context. Brands that are highly available are the ones that pop into people’s heads immediately when thinking about a particular product category or need. For example, Kleenex is highly mentally available when someone thinks of tissues.

Mental availability is shaped by things like advertising, word-of-mouth, publicity, and overall brand exposure. The more exposure a brand gets, especially when linked to relevant associations, the higher its mental availability.

Why Mental Availability Matters in PR

Mental availability is important because people are most likely to choose brands that readily come to mind. If a brand is not top-of-mind, it may be overlooked.

Public relations activities like media relations, events, and community engagement all help increase a brand’s share of voice. The more a brand is talked about, featured, and shared in the news, online, and in person, the more available it will become mentally.

Distinctive Assets Set a Brand Apart

While mental availability gets a brand into the consideration set, distinctive assets set a brand apart from the competition. Distinctive assets are the unique, positive attributes that consumers associate with a brand. This includes things like product benefits, features, style, innovation, values, and personality.

For example, Volvo is known for safety. FedEx is associated with reliable overnight shipping. Apple is distinguished by sleek, innovative product design.

In PR, identifying and emphasising a brand’s distinctive assets in messaging and communications helps reinforce its differentiated image. This establishes the brand in consumers’ minds as superior on the dimensions that matter most.

Leveraging Distinctive Assets for Impactful PR

Here are some tips for leveraging distinctive assets in impactful PR campaigns:

  • Identify the brand’s single most important distinctive asset and make it central in communications. Stay focused on reinforcing this key strength.
  • Find creative ways to showcase the brand’s distinctive assets through press releases, media pitches, events, speaking engagements, and partnerships.
  • Use storytelling to bring distinctive assets to life. Share stories about how real customers have benefited from the brand’s unique strengths.
  • Train spokespeople to effectively communicate the brand’s distinctive value in interviews.
  • Develop key messages that focus on the brand’s differentiators rather than generic claims.

Mental availability and distinctive assets are two cornerstones of strong brand positioning. By focusing PR efforts on these areas, brands can stand out from the competition and effectively shape public perceptions over time.

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