POWER LEADER: CEO of PRM Software company Propel on industry innovationby@sarahevans
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POWER LEADER: CEO of PRM Software company Propel on industry innovation

by sarahevansMarch 23rd, 2023
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Implementing AI in the PR space and what company is doing to innovate
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Welcome back, once again, to the POWER LEADER series -- where we hear from tech industry leaders on their ideas, opinions and views related to their respective area(s) of influence.

With us today is Zach Cutler, CEO and co-founder of Propel. Our team has followed the company growth the past several years, watched as they’ve competed with larger players in the space and introduced new industry practices across the board.

Source: Zach Cutler, Twitter

SE: What innovations are you bringing to your industry? What sets you apart from your competitors?

ZC: Propel is the leader in Public Relations Management (PRM) technology and creator of Artificial Media Intelligence (AMI). Because the company was built by PR pros who personally faced the pain points of PR, Propel was uniquely situated to implement AI in a way that genuinely benefits people in the industry, for instance automating the more menial tasks inherent in the job (setting and following up with pitches, researching and understanding journalist beats, etc). In fact, Propel has been creating and using AI from its inception.

In addition to this, Propel is the original creator of PRM (CRM for PR), which has since been accepted as a new industry standard.

The company also has the only PR tool fully integrated into Gmail and Outlook, which gives us a treasure trove of journalist engagement behavior that we are leveraging for AI-powered recommendations as well as hard data to enable people in communications to fine tune their strategies and ultimately do their jobs better.

SE: What is a recent win or announcement your company just celebrated? Why does it matter?

ZC: Propel launched a new pitch and press release writing tool called Amiga, which stands for Artificial Media Intelligence Generator and Assistant. This tool utilizes Open.AI’s GPT 3 to automatically create first drafts of pitches which are personalized for each journalist, as well as press releases. The technology also has the ability to incorporate pitch optimization data, such as sending pitches on a journalist’s preferred time and day of the week to receive an email as well as the topics they’re most likely to cover.

Courtesy: Propel

This makes Amiga the first end-to-end, fully encompassing generative AI assistant on the market. However, on a wider level, Amiga represents a major leap forward in technological adaptation in an industry notoriously slow to embrace new technology. Zooming out even farther, the tool is yet another use case showing how the black swan event that was the release of easily accessible NLP based generative AI is changing how entire industries operate.

SE: What pain point(s) does your company solve?

ZC: Propel’s SaaS platform helps get rid of the inefficiencies and redundancies inherent in the PR and communications workflow using AI and other proprietary technologies. The platform also tracks and shows the ROI from public relations campaigns based on non-vanity metrics, something which is considered to be one of the largest pain points in PR. It also facilitates open collaboration across teams by showing results and campaign stats per individual PR pro. Finally, Propel enables seamless pitching by incorporating into a PR pro’s native email, eliminates the need to rely on disorganized and siloed campaign spreadsheets, and more.

SE: What are your company’s industry major challenges right now?

ZC: The biggest challenge the industry faces is how to manage positioning and messaging in light of the rise of new media, while at the same time still taking into account the importance legacy media plays in the overall media landscape. To overcome this, PR pros will need to adopt cutting edge technology to better manage their workflows as the number of outlets/podcasts/influencers/etc continues to grow exponentially, especially if they want to stay ahead of their competitors. With the leaps in AI and NLP capabilities seen over the past several months, PR pros should already be looking at how they can leverage these new tools to improve their operations and work-flows.

SE: **What stories aren’t currently being told about your industry that your audience should know? \ ZC: One of the biggest stories which isn’t being talked about enough right now is the third order effects of reduced ad spend by organizations. Due to the current economic situation, organizations around the world are cutting ad-spend and in some way. This means that legacy media outlets - which survive on ads - aren’t getting ad revenue, leading them to either reduce newsroom sizes or cut them altogether. As a result, there are fewer mainstream journalists to pitch to at large publications, making a PR pro’s job harder.  However, some of these journalists are instead starting their own blogs and podcasts (where ad-spend has remained stable), further accelerating the rise of new media.

SE: How do you envision your business changing in the next 3-5 years?

ZC: Tech is likely to be increasingly adopted across the industry, especially as a new generation of digitally native PR pros joins the industry’s ranks. Coupled with new AI powered tools being created to improve the PR workflows and kill spray-and-pray pitching, I believe more people in communications will begin to embrace powerful new technologies such as Amiga to completely redefine how PR is done. Propel has made a name for itself as being a technological leader in the PR industry, and I believe that with a combination of creativity and curiosity, the company will continue to thrive at the cutting edge of innovation in PR.

SE: What changes do you think are necessary for your industry to stay competitive in current economic times?

ZC: First, the PR industry needs to adopt technology to become more streamlined, efficient, and pinpoint their campaigns better. Second, the industry also needs to take a look at the modern media landscape and adjust their strategies. Finally, people in the PR industry need to realize that they are their organizations’ face to the world, and now that most people trust businesses over mainstream media, they are responsible for creating stronger, more accurate, and more trustworthy messaging and owned content to maintain the public’s trust.

SE: What measures has your organization taken to ensure you're driving towards the most important goals?

ZC: To this end, Propel has been at the cutting edge of implementing new technologies into its platform. The moment Open.AI released GPT 3 to the public, Propel began trying to figure out ways to implement it to further streamline PR workflows. In addition, Propel has increasingly been reaching out to new media outlets to promote its message. Finally, the company has been putting a higher emphasis on its owned webinar series, and is coming out with a brand new series on PR so stay tuned!

SE: What’s next?

ZC: Look for our Q2 2023 Media Barometer coming out at the beginning of April!