Camilla Tenn is senior public relations strategist at cross-border communications agency Eleven International.
It’s only been a couple of months since OpenAI’s ChatGPT exploded into the public consciousness, and it already feels like our news feeds will never be the same again.
Whether it’s headlines about AI startups securing massive funding rounds or Twitter threads about how you should be using ChatGPT, the AI news cycle is well and truly here. Sorry, web3, you had your 15 minutes of fame.
Going from all-out rage prompted by the FTX fiasco to ChatGPT setting off the red alert at Google HQ made for a sudden, even shocking shift in the tech news cycle. Crypto publication Decrypt pointed out the focus hasn’t shifted only for the media: JPMorgan’s e-Trading Edit report noted that institutional traders are also looking carefully at AI while blockchain begins to lose its allure.
In this environment, it’s going to be extremely tempting for tech startups to quickly slap the words “AI” and “machine learning” wherever they’re vaguely applicable and dial up the newsworthiness of a given announcement or market insight.
Actually, that might not be a bad idea. In fact, it’s a huge opportunity to miss.
If AI-related coverage can get a new, unknown brand into its target publications today, it could help get the brand’s pitch deck in front of potential investors tomorrow.
Clearly, AI stories are going to have a relatively easier time catching reporters’ attention in this climate. That said, the need to differentiate messaging within the AI vertical is going to rise considerably with the influx of similar pitches heading to reporters’ inboxes.
The question is whether tech startups should shift their PR messaging toward AI-related topics. Such an approach is a given for startups that actually focus on AI: ChatGPT has paved the way and now they can reap the industrywide rewards. But for companies where AI was previously No. 4 on the list of proof points, machine learning capabilities should merge into the main hook of the announcement.
But what if we’re not an AI startup?
Startups that don’t have much to do with AI will likely fear accusations of “jumping on the bandwagon” if they wade into the discussion. Startups might think they should avoid the topic altogether unless they’re an all-out AI firm. The logic is for their PR messaging to stick closer to their core technology or brand mission and prioritize the longer-term benefits of clear positioning.