Gini Dietrich

The Big Question: Artificial Intelligence and the PR Industry

By: Gini Dietrich | March 10, 2017 | 
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The Big Question: Artificial Intelligence and the PR IndustryHot on the heels of my conversation with Christopher Penn on how AI will affect the PR industry, I had to get your take on this week’s Big Question:

How are you preparing for the changes to the PR profession due to the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning?

The responses we received were split pretty evenly between those who are pro-artificial intelligence and those who don’t see it ever really changing what we do.

And we heard about one pretty cool artificial intelligence application that’s already in use by some PR pros.

Robots Won’t Take Our PR Jobs Anytime Soon

Not everyone is that impressed with what we’ve seen artificial intelligence and machine learning accomplish.

Many of you, including Sandra Fathi, doubts machines have the capacity to match humans’ storytelling prowess:

More than a decade ago, when outsourcing became a primary means to lower costs for many companies, there were those that tried to outsource their PR to shops in third-world countries that offered cheap, educated labor.

However, most of those efforts turned into call-centers dialing for dollars or spamming thousands of journalists to try to get just one hit for a client. It wasn’t technical knowledge that caused many of those efforts to fail.

It was the absence of cultural context, of nuance, of personal interactions and creativity that doomed them. Although artificial intelligence has come a long way, it has not yet mastered all of those features.

There are some functions that artificial intelligence can assist with, but it is nowhere near being able to take over for a public relations pro when it comes to media relations. — Sandra Fathi

Lucas Wiseman shares Sandra’s point-of-view:

I don’t think public relations professionals have much to worry about when it comes to the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

One of the most important skills of being a top-notch PR pro is storytelling. Finding the stories that will touch people on an emotional level and then getting the media to tell that story for you.

Artificial intelligence won’t be able to make those same connections we can make as PR professionals. — Lucas Wiseman

It’s Time for a PR Backup Plan

Many PR pros don’t think they’ll be replaced by automation.

But they are starting to reshape how they present their skills and services:

I am preparing by building stronger relationships with clients so that they can see that artificial intelligence can’t replace creativity and strategy. In addition, showing how the human connection is extremely important in building brands and brand ambassadors, communicating and interacting with customers, etc., is another way I’m preparing. — Susan Cellura

I’m moving in the same direction as Susan Cellura and moving into more strategy. I’ve found the sales cycle is longer but I do think it will be more profitable, and sustaining, as artificial intelligence develops. — Susan Stoga

We Welcome Our New Robot Overlords. No, Really!

Katie Kern sees artificial intelligence as a complement to—not a replacement for—the services PR professionals offer:

Thinking more critically and creatively is how PR professionals can embrace the proliferation of artificial intelligence.

In 2017, it’s no longer an outlandish theory that artificial intelligence can displace people in the age of smart machines however, the human touch will always play a critical role in the PR industry when it comes to delivering programs from ideation to execution.

While automation is freeing professionals from more mundane tasks, what artificial intelligence can’t do is effectively evaluate a campaign to see if it resonated with your audience or missed the mark completely.

Keeping in mind PR is more art than science, we should look at artificial intelligence as an opportunity to increase our value rather than a competitive force maneuvering its way through our territory. — Katie Kern

Artificial Intelligence is Already Improving PR’s Success Rate

Stephen Jeske shares how his firm is already using artificial intelligence and machine learning to take those boring, routine PR tasks that suck up a big chunk of your workday and execute them to your specifications in minutes, and with better results:

I work for an SEO agency/SAAS where we’ve developed an app that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze a site’s data and find marketing opportunities based on the site owner’s goals.

We also use the app to do a lot of client work, including outreach and PR. One of the things we’ve been doing lately is training our software to score HARO requests based on the relevance to a client’s site, the historical acceptance rate for that journalist and media outlet, the authority and desirability of the media outlet, and how likely that journalist/outlet is to include a follow link.

Until recently, we’ve had to comb through all the requests and perform a manual evaluation for each request. Providing some intelligent automation is helping to filter out a lot of irrelevant or less useful stuff and focus on the high-value activities.

That’s where I see the greatest benefit of artificial intelligence and machine learning. It frees us from repetitive and time-consuming tasks that have less value while providing more time for added-value activities. — Stephen Jeske

The Next Big Question: Media Training

Executives are notorious for insisting they don’t need media training, even though most of them do.

For next week’s big question, we’d like to know:

What are your tips and tricks for convincing reluctant executives to go through media training?

You can answer here, in our Slack community, or on the socials (use #SpinSucksQuestion so we can find you).

And let me incentivize you a bit: If you answer the question and we feature your answer, you get a follow link to your site. I’ll even let you choose which page you’d like us to link to. So get to answering!

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • Kristin Peixotto

    I think there will always be a place for PR professionals. However, I do believe AI can enhance these efforts. AI could help with customized target messaging, content creation, and identifying influencers & create media lists. I’m excited to see how this technology will be utilized in PR.

    • I’m excited, too! But I think we’re among the minority.

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