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Tan Sukhera on How to Leverage Tech to Get Noticed

Tan is the Founder & CEO of Piar. In this interview, they share their expertise on how to leverage tech to get your business noticed.

Could you introduce yourself and tell us about your experience in public relations?

So I'm a career Media Intelligence professional. After a stint as a News Anchor on TV in South Africa, I've been working exclusively with some of the world's biggest brands. Helping their PR & Comms teams from a media intelligence perspective, in data, reporting & analytics. I have a Marketing background, and have spent the last 6 years in Media Monitoring & Social Listening.

What role does technology play in public relations in 2024?

Without technology, we'd be in the dark ages in PR. It's ubiquitous and has made our lives so much easier. From tools that manage our relationships with journalists & media contacts, monitor the media for mentions of our brands, spokespeople, products, services and competitors. To techniques in NLP for reporting purposes and beyond. The days of PR having contacts in their rolodex are over, and the landscape is always changing and evolving.

Can you give a quick example of how a business can leverage tech to make a PR campaign stand out?

Social Listening is a major way that businesses can leverage technology to make a PR campaign stand out. While it applies to Monitoring traditional sources as well, like print, broadcast & online editorial content. Understanding the right channels to approach in order to proliferate the messages of your campaign can be the difference between success and failure. It can be something as simple as identifying a trend, or interest of your audiences to incorporate into the campaign. For example, did you know that the top interest of US based Vegan Audiences is pets? Now that you know that, how does it affect your PR campaign for a new meatless chicken nugget? That info comes directly from using Tech.

How has AI changed the way businesses do PR?

It's changed the entire landscape! From the way we write pitches, to reporting on the impact of our efforts. The fun part, is it's not done yet! AI will make it possible to crunch vast data sets and get simple answers to complex questions from your data. This is no different from a PR perspective. Making it easier to find interesting correlations and insights, to incorporate into the way we approach stakeholders. That includes internal stakeholders, to external ones like in the Media.

What are some simple tech tools or strategies small businesses can use to improve their PR?

For small businesses, I would not hesitate to use free resources to improve your PR. From tools like those in generative AI for pitch writing (train some agents), to incorporating additional data into your PR decision making. For example, use Google Trends to layer search demand data, or use Generative AI data, or Questions the public often ask -- on top of your media data. This gives you a more robust view of the realities of your industry. Sign up for Media Monitoring & Social Listening. Learn about your competition, and take a data centric approach moving into 2024 and beyond. My team and I created a quick turnaround Status & Trend Report that leverages Media Monitoring, Social Listening & PR best practices. We even put together a promo code for the readers of this interview to get 30% off. I urge you to check it out!

What's a common tech-related mistake you see in PR, and how can it be avoided?

I think the most common mistake, specifically as it relates to data -- is taking information at face value. Just the other day I saw a LinkedIn post that an Axios reporter shared on Lyft. While the spirit of it was fantastic, and the comments overwhelmingly positive. She shared a chart of the sentiment of mentions about Lyft in their recent media coverage from Muck Rack. Now, I love Muck Rack as much as the next person, but I'm weary of taking data at face value. Was each piece scrutinized for accuracy? How was sentiment weighted? Was it in the context of Lyft, or just the sentiment in general? Is there a way to override the sentiment score manually of each article? ....See what I mean? It's for this reason I started Piar, a consultancy that turns media monitoring & social listening data into robust reporting that you can actually hang your hat on. Not just that, but take the insights and incorporate them into PR, Comms, Marketing & Social Strategy.

How do you stay updated with the latest tech trends in PR?

I subscribe to publications. Some of my favs are PR Week, Edelman Trust Barometer, and keep an eye on studies that come out of large brands in the space.

What's your top piece of advice for companies looking to enhance their PR with technology?

Can't stress the importance of Listening. We have a tendency as PR & Comms people to be used to SOS (Sending out stuff), and not realizing it's a two-way communication. Listening is just as important as communicating.


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