When was the last time artificial intelligence — for its growing prowess in organizing information and even writing — ever came up with a good idea on its own? Meredith Corning, our latest Qwoted 100 PR superstar, sees the generation of fresh ideas as a distinctly human edge that will enable smart publicists to harness AI’s power, instead of being led around on a harness by a machine.
The Arkansas-based Corning, who runs her own PR firm, spoke with Qwoted and Talking Biz News about the automation-inspiration balance, and how she approaches the never-ending challenge of getting the timing right with deadline-crazed reporters.
Qwoted: What do you see as the future of PR—technologically, strategically, or in any category you’re passionate about?
Meredith Corning: While the future of PR will require the use of AI, one cannot minimize how important fresh ideas from actual humans will be moving forward. Those in PR who utilize creative avenues to distribute campaigns will rise to the top. The public still craves authenticity and as awareness about AI continues, those human experiences will become the most cherished. It’s not about the number of wins but the quality of those wins. There is a difference.
Qwoted: What do you do that other PRs could learn from?
Corning: I have learned to automate quite a few tasks to free up more time for creativity. While gaining hits for your clients is paramount, coming up with cutting-edge strategies must be factored in. PR tools such as Qwoted offer great ways to maximize hits while streamlining processes at the same time. Use that extra time you have saved to come up with well-rounded, strategic campaigns for your clients that otherwise you would not have had the bandwidth to accomplish.
Qwoted: What’s your toughest challenge with reporters?
Corning: So much of winning a pitch is about timing. Is it the right time for that reporter and publication to cover what you’re pitching? Or in the case of reporter requests, responding promptly will likely increase your chances of landing placement. It can be very challenging when you are knee-deep in a project but have to quickly switch course and focus on a new reporter request that needs a pitch by the next day, for example. Learning to prioritize is key.
Qwoted: How do you approach breaking through the noise floor to get effective coverage?
Corning: There’s so much information going out at any given moment that it can be tough to navigate. Paying attention to the conversation is crucial, though. It is part of the job for a PR professional. I do believe there’s always an element of “reading the room” that comes into play here. If the public seems tired of a conversation around a certain topic, it is time to provide a fresh spin or move on to an entirely different topic while things calm down. Alternatively, when something is trending, you must act quickly to get in on the conversation in a unique way.
Qwoted: How does PR in 2024 square with the future of journalism?
Corning: A PR professional’s job is to make a journalist’s job easier. Providing original ideas, well-researched data, unique quotes, beautiful photos and creative story slants are important. Incorporating a myriad of media for any given story will take precedence. A media push should include multiple social media channels, podcasts, online and print, but most importantly the collaboration and infusion of all these elements working in tandem is the goal for a robust campaign now and moving forward.
Qwoted: What advice would you give to those seeking an effective PR person?
Corning: When seeking a PR professional, make sure you jibe with them on a personal and professional level. My clients keep me around because they like my work — but they also like me as a person and vice versa. There is a rhythm and flow that we all benefit from because there is mutual respect. This may be the most important factor in the overall success of my agency.
Qwoted: What is your golden rule of PR?
Corning: Tell the truth and add some sparkle!
Qwoted: Anything else to add?
Corning: I highly recommend joining various industry organizations to stay up to date. There are some amazing PR Facebook groups that I’ve learned so much from in addition to building my network. Having a mentor or simply someone you can collaborate and spitball with makes life much easier and more fun.
February 14, 2023