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Enhancing Newswire Products with AI and Machine Learning

How can Cision/PR Newswire enhance its products by incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning?

generative ai press release builder
Fig1. PRNewswire AI & ML press release builder MVP.

By swiftly understanding user requirements, conducting competitive analysis, and working iteratively, we rapidly created a minimum viable product for a generative AI press release builder, offering our current clients enhanced functionality within the existing product suite.

Team

  • Dane Wesolko – Lead Product Designer
  • Product Management
  • Engineering
  • Data Science

The Challenge

PR Newswire has been in business since 1954, initially established to enable companies to electronically send press releases to news organizations. Its core functionality allows users to create press releases and distribute their narratives through an extensive distribution network.

PRNewswire high-fidelity mockup of the generative ai press release form.
Fig2. High fidelity mockup of the initial form used to create the generative AI press release.

To further innovate, the leadership team at Cision established a new research and development group called Cision Labs, of which I was a part. This team was tasked with integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning into Cision/PR Newswire’s product stack. Our goal was to develop a generative AI press release builder, enhancing the existing suite of tools and providing our clients with advanced functionality to streamline their communication efforts.

One of the primary challenges we faced was the need to move quickly to stay ahead of the market and close the gap between us and competitors offering similar products. The rapidly evolving landscape of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the PR industry meant that any delay could result in lost opportunities and diminished market share.

Fig3. High fidelity mock up of the initial generative AI press release outline.

Competitors were aggressively advancing their technologies, compelling us to accelerate our development processes. This urgency required us to adopt agile methodologies, prioritize rapid iteration, and maintain a sharp focus on delivering a high-quality, innovative solution that would not only meet but exceed the expectations of our clients.

Finding Opportunity

Cision recognized an opportunity to capitalize on its leadership in the PR and communications industry, leveraging decades of experience and the expertise of its talented teams. This initiative was driven by a strategic vision to provide our clients with cutting-edge tools that enhance their press release creation and distribution capabilities.

To bring this vision to life, we developed experimental interfaces and gathered invaluable feedback from internal subject matter experts, stakeholders, and team members. This collaborative approach ensured that we integrated diverse perspectives and expertise into the development process.

Working Through

In the initial stages of the project, the team at Cision Labs was tasked with determining what was feasible within the short timeframe we were given. Despite the presence of several outstanding products on the market and a multitude of possibilities, we needed to carve out a unique direction. To achieve this, I conducted a comprehensive competitive analysis, which provided crucial insights into the strengths and weaknesses of existing solutions.

Fig4. Select screenshots gathered during the a competitive analysis understanding the current landsacpe.

Meanwhile, Product Management developed detailed requirements documentation, outlining the essential features needed to create our minimum viable product (MVP). This collaborative effort ensured that our approach was both strategic and focused, setting a strong foundation for the project’s success.

Once we had a clear understanding of the overall landscape and the requirements for creating a press release, I began by developing low-fidelity wireframes and flow diagrams to illustrate the user journey. These visual tools were instrumental in mapping out the user experience and ensuring that every step of the process was clearly defined. I then collaborated with the team to review these initial ideas, gathering feedback to refine and shape the overall experience.

PRNewswire generative ai user flow diagram
Fig5. A user flow diagram was developed in order to get a sense of how the user would move through the interface and what types of interactions may be possible.

To further enhance our approach, I conducted additional market research, examining similar writing and content creation tools. This research was crucial in identifying the functionality and features that users expected in such an environment. By exploring these tools, I gained insights into industry best practices and user preferences, which informed our design decisions and helped us create a more intuitive and effective generative AI press release builder.

After gathering initial market insights, developing concepts, exploring potential integrations into the product suite, and iterating on the overall direction, I progressed to creating higher-fidelity mockups. Utilizing PR Newswire’s design system, I ensured these mockups met brand standards and maintained a consistent look and feel.

This phase was critical in translating our conceptual ideas into more concrete visual representations, aligning them with the established brand identity. The detailed mockups not only provided a clearer vision of the final product but also facilitated better feedback and collaboration, ultimately leading to a more polished and cohesive generative AI press release builder.

Creating an interactive prototype in Figma enabled me to effectively convey the overall vision and depth of the project. This prototype served as a tangible representation of our ideas, allowing stakeholders to experience the proposed functionality and user journey firsthand. It facilitated meaningful feedback and collaborative discussions, ensuring that all aspects of the project were thoroughly considered and refined.

By adhering to industry standards and formal requirements, we meticulously crafted a comprehensive concept for a generative AI press release builder. This concept underwent continuous refinement through iterative development, reflecting our commitment to delivering a high-quality product that meets the evolving needs of our clients and maintains our competitive edge. Key tasks and deliverables included:

  • Competitive analysis—understand the strengths and weaknesses of existing solutions.
  • User flow diagram—to ensure a seamless and intuitive experience.
  • Low fidelity wireframes—to visualize the basic structure and layout.
  • High fidelity compositions—to align with brand standards.
  • Interactive prototype—illustrate the project’s potential and facilitate feedback.

These efforts collectively ensured a well-rounded and strategic approach, paving the way for a successful generative AI press release builder.

PRNewswire generative ai press release editor.
Fig6. High fidelity mockup of the generative AI press release editor interface.

The Results

Working with the cross-collaborative team at Cision Labs, we successfully created an MVP of a generative AI press release builder, developing an entirely new product from the ground up. This innovative addition not only enhanced the existing product suite of Cision/PR Newswire but also significantly improved the customer experience by:

  • Reducing the time required to create a press release.
  • Enhancing the creativity and effectiveness of communications.

As a result, clients were able to streamline their daily tasks, more effectively create and manage communications to share their narratives, and benefit from advanced technologies integrated into the product suite. This project reinforced Cision/PR Newswire’s position at the forefront of PR communications, demonstrating our commitment to innovation and client satisfaction.

Reflections

In hindsight, several key areas could have been improved to achieve greater success. A more rigorous and ongoing competitive analysis could have provided deeper insights into emerging trends and potential disruptors. Continually monitoring the competitive landscape would have helped identify additional opportunities for differentiation.

Additionally, enhancing our user feedback loop with structured user testing sessions could have provided actionable insights earlier in the development process, tailoring our solution more precisely to market demands. Incorporating robust data analytics from the outset would have informed our design and development decisions with empirical evidence, ensuring that every feature added genuine value.