AI Writes a Pitch

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As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more commonplace at the office and in everyday life, questions continue to arise: Will AI ever understand causation, or will AI take over the world and leave humanity in damnation? For media professionals, whose inboxes are flooded with a daily dose of hundreds of subject lines, the musings are less existential. Can AI write a subject line a good one at that and follow with a solid pitch? 

To determine the quality of writing produced by AI, BuzzStream and Fractl asked 500 public relations specialists, journalists, and other media professionals to rate a series of subject lines and pitches generated using OpenAI’s GPT-3 text generator. Participants did not know any of the text was AI-generated. Read on to uncover why the question we should be asking is, can AI do it better than humans? 

AI-Produced Subject Lines Are Valuable 

Finessing a subject line may be the No. 1 priority for media professionals because, without the perfect one, emails face the same destiny the trash pile. Using our AI technology, we generated three subject lines and tested each with our respondents. 

The majority (79%) of professionals said they would open the email based on the subject lines, and 62% revealed they were better than subject lines they wrote themselves or recently received. So, what made our AI-produced subject lines valuable? 

According to 88% of survey participants, the length of the subject lines were good to excellent. Although 71% also reported the quality being high or very high, the length is an important factor because achieving the point in “six to eight words” makes it more probable that your email will get read. 

Although a short, well-written subject line may get a media professional far, it will not do any good if it is one in a million of the same. As it turns out, 69% of respondents reported that the subject lines AI produced for our study were novel, and 76% said they were valuable. 

AI Writes Surprisingly Good Pitches

To discover if AI could maintain its positive track record with media professionals, we generated six emails using the GPT-3 text generator. Once again, 62% of our survey respondents shared that the AI-produced text – this time, email pitches were better than the last they received or wrote themselves. 

Three-fourths considered the AI pitches valuable, and 72% deemed them novel. Also interesting is that 79% of respondents said the AI-produced pitches were convincing. Writing an email pitch worth reading is one thing, but crafting one that persuades a journalist or media professional to buy into your campaign is what success in marketing looks like and AI passes the test.

For Media Professionals, AI Creates New Beginning 

It’s unclear exactly how these AI developments will impact the digital PR realm, but one thing’s for sure: Authenticity and authority are going to matter more than ever. Keep prioritizing your brand building (including your personal brand) and establishing trust now.

If AI pitches do become the norm, perhaps it’ll be a matter of spending more time on the creation of high-quality content to pitch and identifying the best journalists to reach out to. We’re in an extremely versatile industry, so as long as we continue to focus on what’s best for our audience, we should still be poised for success.

Methodology and Limitations 

We collected results from 500 Media professionals working in digital PR, journalism, digital marketing, and promotions. The survey was designed with the intent of testing human perceptions of AI-generated subject lines and email pitches presented to them. Respondents were not informed that subject lines and emails were AI-generated. Limitations due to self-reporting apply, including exaggeration, telescoping, and selective memory. Subject lines and emails were generated using GPT-3, a text-generating program from OpenAI. GPT-3 was given a set of prompts in order to generate email pitches, but for efficiency, not every variation of each prompt was used. GPT-3 output could vary based on word count and word variation of prompts. 

Fair Use Statement 

If media professionals trust AI to complete the tedious day-to-day work, what doors open for the marketing industry? Join in on the conversation by reading our research on AI-produced subject lines and email pitches. When you find something good enough to share for noncommercial reuse, please link back here so readers may view the project in full and review the methodology and limitations.

Stephen Panico

Stephen Panico

Stephen manages growth at BuzzStream and also ponders and writes about outreach strategies that he hopes are occasionally helpful. When he's not doing all of that you can find him trying to level up his home cooking or playing games of strategy and chance.

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