How We Help Non-PR Professionals Get Media Coverage With Our AI-Powered PR Tool

Published: October 9th, 2023
Steve Marcinuk
Intelligent Relat...
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Hello! I’m Steve Marcinuk and I co-founded Intelligent Relations in March of 2020. Intelligent Relations is an AI-powered PR platform that allows non-PR professionals to win media coverage and get their stories told.

Our platform includes AI-powered media monitoring, pitch writing, journalist recommendations, and outreach to help clients manage their PR activities the same way they would manage an email marketing or paid search campaign.

Since a key element of PR is targeting the right journalists and publications, we created a proprietary AI technology that determines the most relevant journalists for each client’s story before compiling a personalized database of media targets.

To cover each step of the media outreach process, we also provide PR educational tools, automated pitch writing, campaign analytics, and high-quality PR support.

So far, we’ve seen a fair bit of success. Organic growth has been impressive – we’ve seen an over 100 percent increase in traffic and leads in just over three years of operating. More recently, organic leads have grown by three times over the last six months, indicating strong market interest in AI-led PR strategies. We’ve seen this reflected in our overall growth over the last year, which is in the range of 40 percent.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I’ve been interested in entrepreneurship for as long as I can remember. I was that kid with the lemonade stand at five years old. Fast forward another six or seven years and I had started my first business. I provided music and entertainment for birthday parties and other festivities for kids.

Since I had always associated business with entrepreneurship, I was surprised when I got to business school and found out that most of my peers were planning on going into finance and accounting. I graduated in 2010 and spent the ten or so years between then and founding Intelligent Relations working as an executive and consultant in tech-focused marketing and strategy.

But I ultimately wanted to be involved in the process of building companies from scratch. It didn’t take long for me to see that marketing and PR are two key elements of building a successful business.

In 2020, my co-founder and I observed that the development of AI was accelerating at a rapid pace, which meant there would be more opportunities in that area. Given my marketing background, I thought of integrating this emerging technology with public relations, an industry that somehow remained just as elusive to small businesses as it did before the digital age.

The key is to balance your vision with the varying nature of customer feedback

I remember thinking how that didn’t make sense because there’s so much data about media coverage that’s readily available.

We also noticed the lack of a “do it yourself” PR platform, kind of like what Squarespace is for website development, Canva for graphic design, or MailChimp for email marketing. These services make things easier, and that’s just what AI could do for PR. We eventually concluded that PR was just so mysterious to the business world that no one had even thought of breaking it down into a series of steps or using that readily available data to gauge a journalist’s statistical likelihood of covering a certain story.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

For us, testing and prototyping our platform was a critical step. For about 11 to 12 months, I was just testing different data structures and workflows in Google Sheets based on what we wanted the platform to do. We considered what a database structure that would support outreach to journalists might look like. We thought granularly about the relationships between articles individual journalists and whole outlets.

We then hired some developers to build us a fairly simple API that would pull relevant data into Google Sheets. Then, we connected some pretty basic AI generators to Google Sheets to build a working prototype.

We knew we had done something right when we used our prototype to successfully pitch a story to a journalist from The Washington Post. Once we had crossed that point, we began to reach out to some engineers and gradually put together a real tech team. So, we didn’t ramp up our hiring until we had a working prototype.

I think it’s also important to note that during that testing period, we made sure to define our processes and general business model as clearly as possible. This way, once we had a working prototype, we could move right into building a team since we already knew how our team would function.

Our first customers were essentially traditional PR clients. Once they knew we could achieve results for them in a conventional PR sense, they were more comfortable with us integrating the prototype into our work for them. As a workable customer-facing product took shape, we started offering both DIY and managed services, and transitioning those customers interested in using the DIY service was fairly easy, because they had already seen the product deliver results.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Well, since sales are the lifeblood of just about any successful business, we invested in a pretty sophisticated sales process very early on. We also invested in some very credible and useful sources of leads, along with some highly effective methods of identifying leads. We leveraged B2B tools to pull lists of prospects, then built our tools to rank leads based on company descriptions and other publicly available data. Without giving too much away, we did all this in a way that was relevant and finely tailored to our industry and use case.

From there, we used deep AI personalization to write cold email outreach campaigns, which proved very successful as well. As for retention, we built a very structured process for collecting user feedback.

We understand the importance of offering immediate value to our customers, so we’ve been diligent about prioritizing the development of new features that allow us to consistently do that. The key is to balance your vision with the varying nature of customer feedback. You’re constantly making changes while still pursuing your long-term goals.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We’re extremely proud to say that we’ve self-funded 100 percent of our development, so we’ve been profitable since our early stages. This has allowed us to survive a very turbulent economy with minimal impact while staying on track toward our primary objectives. The future is all about improving our product and making more sales by finding more ways to meet the needs of our customers while attracting customers so we can offer a great deal of value to them.

Specifically, that means finding more ways of demystifying the process of winning media coverage for people who have never done PR. Too many people treat PR like a black box as if there’s some sort of magic going on inside that only PR professionals can understand.

In terms of staffing, we’ve grown substantially as we’ve scaled. We have about 60 teammates spread out over 15 countries. About half of those are on the product side: AI engineers, regular engineers, front- and back-end engineers, and data analysts. The other half is focused on services: PR experts, account managers, and writers.

We truly believe that anyone can do their PR and that every entrepreneur has an interesting story to tell, and we want to make it easier for them to use their stories to build their brands.

While it’s undeniably crucial to build a working prototype, you still have to start doing marketing and PR well before you have a successful launch.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

The importance of consistency. I honestly cannot emphasize this enough. Entrepreneurship is not a stroke of genius. It’s not about coming up with a single, billion-dollar idea. It’s about having a vision and taking consistent, measurable steps towards that vision while simultaneously getting feedback, which will probably require you to modify your vision to adapt to the needs of the real world.

You have to check back on your ever-evolving vision on a day-to-day basis to make sure you’re continuing to execute effectively.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We use Slack for communication, Mailshake for cold email outreach and sales, Hubspot for digital marketing, Jira and ClickUp for project management, QuickBooks for bookkeeping and finances, and the standard Google productivity suite for just about everything else.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

One of my favorite books is “Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models” by Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann. It’s all about practical thinking and how to clarify your ideas. I found it particularly helpful because the opposite of super thinking – fuzzy thinking – can be very hazardous for your personal and professional life.

When it comes to self-care and productivity, I get a lot of inspiration from Brian Johnson’s social training platform “Heroic.” What Brian has essentially done is take practical insights and advice from more than 600 best-selling books and distilled them into short summaries containing the key takeaways from each book. It’s perfect for busy entrepreneurs who wish they had the time to read these books all the way through.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

You need to be flexible and shift gears based on testing and feedback. It’s one thing to have a vision, it’s another thing to have a vision that’s been carefully refined by results. We devoted a lot of time and energy to testing and refining. You have to be prepared to modify your original idea after you test it. The original vision is just a starting point.

On that note, you can’t figure out what you’ve done right or wrong if you don’t document the feedback you receive. Whenever we have a call with a customer, we document the entire conversation. The meeting transcription service has been invaluable in this process.

Documentation also allows you to go back and catch things you may have missed. Sometimes, you have to read between the lines of user feedback to understand what they’re trying to say.

For example, we learned early on that most of our customers needed more foundational PR education. We work with a lot of tech startups, and, although they know their tech and their industries inside and out, they may not have a lot of direct experience with marketing and PR. This led us to develop educational materials and webinars about the fundamentals of PR so customers can better understand what we’re offering them.

Also, entrepreneurs should know that marketing and product development need to happen in parallel. Too many entrepreneurs wait until they’ve built the perfect product before putting themselves out there. While it’s undeniably crucial to build a working prototype, you still have to start doing marketing and PR well before you have a successful launch.

So, my advice to entrepreneurs is don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid that someone’s gonna steal your idea. The key to success lies in the execution of that idea, not the idea itself. So, start making some noise in advance so you can prepare for your launch and develop a sense of what could follow.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We’re always on the lookout for people who can help in our core areas of operation, like AI engineers and full-stack engineers.

Where can we go to learn more?

Sign up at for a 14-day free trial. If you made it this far in reading about my story, drop me a line at [email protected] and I’ll send you a coupon code to help you get started.