Tech Talk with Banner Public Affairs partner Brett Thompson

Thompson discusses his firm’s new comms tech tool BannerAI.

Banner Public Affairs partner Brett Thompson.
Banner Public Affairs partner Brett Thompson.

Can you describe the new comms tech tool your PR firm launched this summer?
We’re Banner Public Affairs. We created BannerAI, an artificial intelligence platform, because we didn’t think there was anything out there that was giving insights to people doing the work that we all do. So, we decided to build our own. With BannerAI, we’re able to find reporters who are actually writing about what our clients care about, pair them with the right stories and pitch using the best language. 

How does that happen with your new technology?
It’s not pitching just because “I’m friends with these reporters” or “I have a gut sense.” It's backed by the data of what reporters are writing every day, and not just historical articles.

BannerAI is a portal that combines IBM Watson analysis and natural language processing, using thousands of articles. Our team can access it on a browser, while on calls with clients. AI is really effective at processing large amounts of information. BannerAI identifies patterns in keywords, emerging trends and even sentiments of whether a story is positive or negative about a subject.

We can take all of that information, look at the patterns and keywords that might be useful to our clients and say, “You wanted to talk to this reporter, but we really think you should talk to this other one who really loves this subject of just say battery recycling or climate change.”

Some systems find reporters who cover, for example, technology or science, and that’s all you get. BannerAI allows us to see keywords that our clients care about.

Our digital offering allows clients to see what keywords could be used in social media posts that maybe others aren't using—but are really part of the conversation.

Is BannerAI strictly for your firm’s use?
That's right. What we've created is hopefully good for both our clients and reporters. With BannerAI, we're able to find reporters who have a real passion about our clients’ key issues. And that combination leads to better stories.

So, tell us about your firm, its revenue and some of your clients.
We’re a full-service public affairs firm founded over seven years ago by a number of former Omnicom employees. We provide services in government relations, communications, public relations, social media and digital strategy as well as creative and web services. We’re headquartered in Washington, DC, and have offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver and St. Louis. We had over $5 million in revenue in 2020.

Some businesses achieve success by just having a lot of people. What we want to do is stay entrepreneurial, always being at the edge of learning, and staying ahead of things.

Some of our clients include the American Battery Technology Company, Brewer Science, the American Materials Technology Partnership and the Brewers Association.

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