Artificial Intelligence: PR Partner or Threat?

January 3, 2018 Lacey Miller

From Amazon’s Alexa to self-driving cars, artificial intelligence (AI) is advancing rapidly. While people often think of AI as robots with human-like characteristics, AI can encompass anything from search engine algorithms to your favorite Spotify station.

TechTarget describes it as having "gained prominence recently due, in part, to big data, or the increase in speed, size, and variety of data businesses are now collecting.”

Over the next few years, AI will undoubtedly have a significant impact on how people work and live. Products will be manufactured more efficiently, delivered more quickly (hello Amazon), and include more capabilities. So, there is no doubt that this emerging technology will impact the practice of public relations, with many people asking, "Will AI make me better at my job or will it take it away?"

How AI Can Make PR Pros More Efficient and Effective

While it is normal to fear anything that is new and disruptive, smart PR professionals will embrace artificial intelligence rather than fight it. It will undoubtedly change the way you do your job, but there is no reason to believe it will replace you. According to The Public Relations & Communications Association, “Our powers of anticipation and responsiveness separate us from machines. It is these skills that will guarantee the future of PR and prevent complete automation.”

We agree that “complete” automation isn’t a threat, but many tasks will be automated. AI will help PR pros with:

Mundane Daily Tasks

In the same way, I use Alexa to sync my grocery list in the kitchen to my phone, PR professionals will increasingly use AI to automate menial tasks like scheduling, distributing press releases, organizing meeting notes, creating project plans, reporting, and sending follow-up notes. Eliminating the need for humans to handle these routine, but necessary chores will reduce the opportunity for error and free you up for more strategic and creative work.

Deeper Audience Insight

Messages that resonate most with people are those that are relevant and timely. Artificial Intelligence opens the door to individually targeted messages based on millions of data points about each member of the audience. Facebook and others are already using what they know about you to deliver highly relevant ads on your feeds. With real-time data being used as an advantage, PR pros will be able to provide their audience with content they want, rather than content they find useless. You’ll be able to eliminate time being wasted on content that won't be appreciated by your audience.

A Better Understanding of Influence

PR professionals are increasingly relying on “influencers” to spread the brand’s story and messages, but how do you know for sure who the most influencers really are? The size of someone’s network is a poor indicator of how much sway one has with their audience and how valuable that audience is to your brand. Software powered by AI has the power to quickly look through all available data including engagement and reach to determine a true level of influence. This will result in an improvement in the way influencers are found and leveraged.

Improved Media Lists and Custom Pitches

In the same way that AI will improve your understanding of your audience and your ability to deliver tailored content to potential customers, it will help improve your understanding of the media contacts that may be interested in your messages. AI can identify the journalists and bloggers who are writing about relevant topics in real-time. It can provide information about each contact that will let you craft a pitch that is personal, timely, and effective.

Useful Media Monitoring

Media monitoring and analytics is one area where artificial intelligence is already impacting the work of PR professionals who have invested in advanced technology. Rather than throwing everything with a relevant keyword at the wall, the best solutions can read and understand content, flag what is most in need of attention. This gives PR teams the confidence that they know what’s happening with their brand, industry, customers, and competitors without spending every minute reading Google alerts.

The advancement of artificial intelligence is excellent news for PR pros who are open to learning how it can help them get better results. It’s terrible news for organizations and folks who refuse to evolve because they will be outperformed by the competition and ultimately left behind. 

About the Author

Lacey Miller

Passionate about public relations and empowering practitioners, Lacey Miller found her dream job at TrendKite, where she carries the crown of 'word nerd'. With a background in public relations and technology, she's a great fit with her desire to innovate the industry! You can find her most days writing for PR Forward, PRSA, and other marketing trade publications.

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