Artificial Intelligence in PR: What You Need to Know

Bring up the idea of Artificial Intelligence (or more commonly, AI) to anyone at work, and you’re met with a wide-eyed, paranoiac stares. There’s a fear among business professionals alike that AI is out to get them (read: their jobs). Many view AI as a secret society of robots that are out to take people’s jobs and eventually, quite possibly, the world. So while it is Halloween season and that does sound like a great albeit overdone thriller flick, that’s not quite the way it works.

Yes, although PR Week predicts a tripling in the percentage of workplace skills to be covered by AI within the next five years, fear not: AI simply cannot replace the human relationships and human communication that make PR, PR. Now that I’ve assuaged your fears of robot world domination, let’s learn a bit more about the ins and outs of AI.

What exactly is AI?

First off, AI stands for artificial intelligence. And no, AI is not some distant, futuristic phenomenon the likes of which we’ve seen in films like The Matrix or Inception. AI is very much a real technological development that has grown to be commonplace in today’s work and home environments. Check out this robust definition of AI here:

“By definition, AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes executed by machines. Think about it this way: it’s Spotify or Pandora choosing our next song. It’s Google’s search app giving answers, not just search results.”

Simply put, AI is here to make our lives (and jobs) easier. And while companies are already scrambling to incorporate AI into their business strategy because of the near certainty of AI’s future in our everyday lives, it’s good to get an idea of how AI has already become a cog in the machine. So come, jump into the matrix with me…

How is AI used in PR today?

For the most part, AI is used to complement a PR professional’s day-to-day responsibilities in order to reduce the clutter and take care of the monotonous, tedious tasks that can bog us down. In fact, AI is already assisting with repetitive tasks like constructing coverage reports, distributing press releases, scouting influencers and creating media lists.

Most of the tasks in which AI makes its way into the workplace are manageable, repetitive, often data-based responsibilities, such as keyword research and testing, trend forecasting, and various data management and analysis skills. The transferring of such skills onto AI systems allows more time and energy to be focused on the human, communicative aspects of PR that make PR the connective, creative, story-based world that it is.

What’s the big deal?

If that “tripling of skills to be covered by AI within five years” factoid hasn’t already clued you in, AI isn’t going anywhere. And while it’s understandable to be wary of new systems and cautious around uprooting the old ways and embracing the new, the thoughtful incorporation of AI can make our lives a whole lot easier. If you’re still not sold on that idea, check this out:

“By taking advantage of massive quantities of data and using AI to draw insights on it, PR pros can now cut through clutter and find useful, relevant data, quantify buzz and press hits, properly attribute revenue, know which tactics are working, spot brand and revenue indicators and identify PR funnel accelerators.”

Sounds pretty great, right? Now that you’re sold on the idea, let’s move into exploring how you can make it happen for yourself and your business.

How can you incorporate AI? Should you?

Curious as to how you can incorporate AI into your public relations strategy? Excited at the realm of possibilities and loads of daily minutia taken off of your shoulders? Slow down. While it’s an exciting time and the rate at which AI is developing is staggering, it’s important to take it slow and gradually introduce AI into your existing business strategy. Go too fast too quick, and you’ll end up with your head spinning and no idea where to go next.  

Maybe you start with one specific responsibility, say trend forecasting, that can easily be transferred over to the new and improved AI system. If you’re finding success, continue. Move on to influencer research, then onto press release distribution, then onto taking over the world. Ok, maybe not that last part but you catch my drift.

Take it slow, because it can be easy to want to go overboard and throw out all the old systems and bring in the new, shiny AI models of work. Slowly introduce AI into your process and give it time for both you and your team to comfortably incorporate AI into your working system.

And always remember, you can’t take the human out of public relations. If your only focus is incorporating AI everywhere in your system with no regulation and no accountability, you’re digging yourself into a hole. After all, we as humans have something AI simply cannot duplicate – the ability to think creatively and abstractly and the ability to communicate with proper emotion and tone: all in all, the ability to be inherently human. No shame, robots, no shame.

The Big Takeaway

If you take away anything from this blog post, let it be that AI is not going anywhere. It will only get bigger, better, and more commonplace in workplaces and industries across the world. If you haven’t already incorporated AI into your business regimen, it’s a good idea to test the waters. Do a bit more research, figure out if it’s feasible for you and your business, and try it out.  Again, supplement: don’t uproot.

So while we don’t need to worry about robots taking over our jobs (we’ll save that for hopefully another century or two…), we do need to give AI a chance.

For more insights on how you can improve your PR strategy, contact our team.

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