Gini Dietrich

AI and Communications: What the Future Holds

By: Gini Dietrich | July 20, 2021 | 
4

AI and Communications: What the Future HoldsI’ve been thinking a lot about artificial intelligence and how it and machine learning and natural language processing and all of the other robots can help us do our jobs.

In fact, a couple of months ago, Martin Waxman introduced me to Copysmith as a way to create ideas for repetitive tasks…and I fell in love with it.

It is billed as a way to “create high-converting ads, product descriptions, emails, and more in seconds,” but that’s pretty aspirational of it.

It does, however, make it crazy easy to create the first draft of some of those things.

I’d say ads and product descriptions are where it excels, but anything longer than perhaps 100 characters is pushing it.

And, because pushing it beyond 100 characters or using it to provide a final draft are not yet feasible, all of this stuff still needs a human being overseeing it all.

AI In Your Communications Program

Last week, PRWeek published an article from one of their communications leaders’ roundtables.

The topic du jour? Artificial intelligence in your communications programs.

The roundtable included communications leaders from Verizon, EvolveMKD, Nationwide, OKCupid, PRophet, and ClassPass.

According to PRWeek, they immediately found common ground in the staunch belief that as powerful a tool as AI is to help smart communicators do their jobs even better, its value is very much linked to human input and guidance.

Certainly, it can help become more performative, but being able to use AI to enhance or expedite our efforts is something else entirely.

As Christopher Penn puts it:

AI is like a blender. If you don’t know what you’re putting in, you don’t know what a blender does, and you have no goals or outcomes in mind for what comes out of the blender, don’t be surprised when you get results you didn’t want.

But if you understand what a blender does and how it will mix everything together for the best output, you can find ways to use it for content creation ideas, first drafts of things such as news releases and even blog posts, creating a list of journalists that actually focus on the topic (versus some wild list of everyone, everywhere). 

It’s Not Just for Earned Media

During the roundtable, Nationwide CCO Brian Grace said:

AI could help us provide the most value to reporters. There are lots of different angles on a story I might want to take. Each reporter will want the angle that best fits the way they’re covering the world. AI can help comms pros best personalize a pitch to a particular reporter.

I agree.

Just like Copysmith helps me with the first draft of Google ads, other tools, such as newcomer Helloscribe, could potentially provide the opportunity to target specific angles to specific journalists in a time-efficient way.

It’s no secret that designing news specific to each journalist is challenging, but AI may be the way to make it work, even as the journalistic pool gets smaller and smaller.

The thing I found most interesting about the PRWeek roundtable coverage, however, is that it was almost exclusively focused on media relations—and getting junior-level professionals to focus on bigger strategic media opportunities.

Certainly, if you want to focus on how it will help you and your team with earned media, there is a lot of meat in the article, but there is more to it than that.

AI Can Help With Data Collection Tasks

I did a really fun interview last week with Kelly Fletcher and Mary Beth West on their Ms. InterPReted podcast.

It’s not live yet, but I’ll give you a sneak peek: one of the things we discussed is where communicators need to step up.

And, if you’ve spent any time with me at all, my answer will not surprise you: it’s about metrics and measuring our efforts to real business results.

Certainly letting AI take over tasks such as media list development and other data-collection-focused tasks will give communicators a better understanding of how to pitch appropriately.

But it also can help in your measurement efforts. 

When I (used to, pre-pandemic) speak to groups of communicators, one of the things I always ask is, “How many of you went into PR because you’re terrible at math?”

The majority—as in nearly everyone—chuckles and raises their hand.

And it makes sense. Measurement, or at least understanding the basics of it and how to attribute your work to business goals, takes a certain amount of your left brain.

Many communicators tend to be more right-brained so it’s not a fair assumption that we could also be good at using data to prove our worth.

But with AI, you can.

This new relationship between humans and intelligent machines is enabling PR professionals to automate repetition-based tasks, analyze online conversations, predict a crisis, and even produce personalized content.

And it can help you create data-driven campaigns that are fully measurable and attributable to your efforts.

As you think about AI and how it can work for you—not replace you—consider these three things: automation, acceleration, and accuracy.

It Can Automate Repetitive Tasks

AI allows communicators to automate repetitive tasks such as building media lists, crafting first drafts, generating ideas, and tracking media coverage. Not only is automation taking over some of the busywork that comes with the practice of public relations, but it is also augmenting the ability to obtain insights in a matter of seconds.

It Can Accelerate Insights

It also enables communicators to obtain insights from the digital world in real-time.

This benefit can be crucial during a social media boycott, for example, when conversations spread rapidly and time can be your most valuable asset.

Perhaps Chrissy Tiegen could use this tactic as she laments cancel culture and why she’s the latest victim.

I think we all know why, but perhaps she’s not as self-aware as one would hope.

She really needs a communications professional on her team.  

It Can Accurately Quantify Emotions

And, last but not least—and maybe most importantly, it allows communicators to accurately quantify people’s feelings and opinions about a brand and compare that sentiment against other metrics such as engagement, stock price, or sales.

This definitely requires new types of skills from each of us—the ability to read data and relate it to our work, user experience, and predictive artificial intelligence. 

But having cheaper, faster, and better access to relevant information provides the ability to focus on other activities such as creative thinking, strategic planning, and instinct—all essential attributes of communications professionals that no machine will ever offer in our lifetimes.

What Do You Think?

I have long been a fan of artificial intelligence.

It has always made people freak out a little that the robots are going to replace us, but you can see that’s not the case at all.

If anything, the robots need us more; they get to focus on the mundane and we get to do the work that excites us. 

If you’d like to discuss AI more and how it can work within your role, join us for the discussion in the Spin Sucks Community!

It’s free, it’s fun, it’s challenging, it’s educational…and you can have these kinds of discussions every day if you’d like. 

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.