written in collaboration with John De Oliveira, VP, Product Management
Discussions about artificial intelligence (AI) invoke blank stares or robot take-over fears. We’ve created a caricature that inhibits real conversation and actually diminishes what AI is already doing for us in our everyday routines. Think about it. It’s choosing our next song on Spotify; it’s Google crawling the internet for the best search results; or it’s Facebook working to squash fake news. In other words, the robots are already here.
Hollywood has fun scaring us with world dominating machines whose mental capacity grows well beyond any human's, but the reality of AI is, it’s been the not-so-scary backbone of innovation for decades. Om Malik explains AI as “augmented intelligence” that “offers the possibility of winnowing an increasing number of inputs and options in a way that humans can’t manage without a helping hand.” So, as data gets more and more unwieldy, AI is the power that helps us tame it.
That definition also puts into perspective several of the companies and products you interact with everyday. And this effectively describes the proprietary backbone of TrendKite, the Insight Engine. This Insight Engine is a machine learning technology that detects patterns among the equivalent of 3 million days of coverage. To give you perspective, this technology scans and analyzes about 500,000 articles per minute. A task that is humanly impossible...and imagine the incredible data points, retrieved and organized specifically based on the user’s needs.
Public relations and artificial intelligence are rarely ever mentioned in the same sentence, and currently, they aren’t even in the same conversations. In fact, less than 3% of news stories that discuss the PR industry also mention AI. But the use of AI isn’t going anywhere. McKinsey predicts that every industry will be touched by AI, with as much as 45% of tasks currently performed by people being automated using existing technologies. And for PR mainstream, that technology is TrendKite.
The idea of artificial intelligence is the same as is in other products and industries that rely on it. TrendKite is taking the commands given, analyzing incredible amounts of data, and producing [reports] based on the results. Yes, this research and analysis has been done in the past without the use of software or AI, but as bloggers, journalist, and publications multiply exponentially, it’s impossible for PR pros to stay on top of every article, every engagement, and every trend across one or multiple industries. But it doesn’t stop there. Just as you see suggested products on Amazon, or search terms in Google, TrendKite takes in data and uses it to give suggestions within your PR strategy.
An example of how TrendKite is using AI to reshape PR, is a feature called ‘Spike Alerts’. Spike Alerts is laser focused on analyzing data sources based on user input, then it tracks trends in press coverage, alerting the PR pro to anomalies. The resulting alert provides actionable data, with strategic information, the PR pro can act upon. So, instead of a barrage of “results”, the AI working behind the scenes in Spike Alerts is actually doing something for the user. But, there is no lack of work for today’s PR pros, software or not, because it’s not all robots.
As you go a level deeper into the products backed by artificial intelligence, you realize the human element can’t be replaced. And actually, human acumen combined with computer intelligence can be the most effective scenario. This is what is described as intelligence amplification (IA). It’s the idea that even as Spotify curates your perfect playlist, you have to give it some structure, tell it your likes and dislikes, so the user receives the desired output. It’s the same, even more necessary idea with PR analytics. TrendKite lets the PR professional harness data unlike ever before; it’s changing the way industry pros analyze and report. But the output doesn’t tell the right story until someone gives it the parameters to investigate and evaluate.
The fascinating thing about AI is the mystery surrounding it, and the fear it’s coming after our jobs. But the real world story is, it’s already here, changing the way you listen to music, search the web, and digest news. And as for your job, at TrendKite, we’re working to give the PR pro more power than they’ve ever had before, harnessing AI in an entirely new way, in an industry that hasn’t seen this kind of human and machine interaction.
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