As if there was any doubt, 2023 will go down as the year Artificial Intelligence (AI) went mainstream. Virtually every consumer and every business is researching and discussing the opportunities and pitfalls.
Ironically, we launched our first pure AI client about five years ago and worked with companies that were using AI and machine learning in the background for a few years before that. Today, the majority of our clients are actively pursuing AI.
As more and more companies are scrambling to make news, be seen and capitalize on the AI revolution, there are some key pillars of good PR that cannot be overlooked, especially as competition and overall noise is growing to ear-popping levels.
The fact is that with so many companies legitimately moving into AI, building innovative solutions and offering truly compelling insights, simply issuing product announcements or providing standard commentary is not enough. To stand out, you need to lean into what makes your AI story, insights and offerings unique. You need to give reporters something that no one else is saying or doing – and this is even more critical when you are establishing yourself.
When we talk to companies about approaching any new market – and this year that means AI – we always look pragmatically at a sustainable program – fast results that support long term goals. And it starts here…
- Be Honest with Yourself – The vast majority of executives are honest with their customers, bosses, Boards, etc., but being honest with themselves can be a different story. It’s easy to get excited and blinded to company and market realities, especially when looking at the opportunities presented by AI. As outside counselors, we get to ask the hard questions that can bring the conversation back to earth: Where are you starting from in terms of market and press visibility? Are you already known or a relative newcomer? Do you have a compelling story; do you need to educate reporters; are you doing/saying anything unique? If you aren’t honest with yourself, everyone else will see right through you.
- Be Credible – Once you’ve had the honest conversation, you can start putting together messaging and a story that not only highlights your value, but does it in a way that generates trust, ensuring that claims are based in reality and backed by facts. Bold claims may grab headlines, but these stories are short lived and can irreparably damage your brand if the facts don’t support them.
- Be Unique – What is it that makes your solution or approach special? Even if it’s a small feature that only matters to a subset of your audience, find what makes you truly different and make that a cornerstone to your story.
- Be Compelling – While being unique, you also need to be compelling – why should anyone care? With so many companies and ‘experts’ talking about AI, reporters are looking for insights that their readers can relate to – many are seeking out use cases that are user benefit driven, others are looking for data and real-world experience. Again, be honest with yourself: is your story going to resonate with the audience you are engaging? TL;DR: Find what makes you special and then make it special to your audiences.
- Be Focused – Many believe that to be recognized in AI or any hot market they need to be seen as an expert everywhere. The thinking goes: ‘The more topics I talk to and the more places I’m quoted, the more authority I’ll build.’ For most people and companies, this could not be further from the truth. A shot gun approach dilutes your message. Focus on what you know and the areas that matter most to you – if you are selling AI integration for sales solutions, do your investors or buyers care if you are talking about how Hollywood is using AI? No, they won’t and worse, they will likely be confused.
- Be Timely – News cycles move fast, so must you. AI is one of the top headlines of the year, with new trends, findings and developments every week. Before news breaks, determine the general topics where you can offer credible perspective. Track those and react quickly and accordingly.
Of course, there are also some key things we counsel our clients to stay away from, many of which are aligned with the above: Don’t try to boil the ocean. Focus your program on your goals. It’s a common misconception that the more reporters you get your story in front of, the more coverage you will get. Generic pitching hardly ever works and can often detract from your credibility. If it doesn’t support your stated goals, put it aside.