Human PR talent can be expensive.
We might deliver good work, but it’s relatively slow and costly. With that in mind, here are the public relations tasks that artificial intelligence could replace or augment in the foreseeable future:
A properly programmed machine can generate weekly, monthly, even daily coverage reports in minutes. Our work might be to review such reports for errors or insights, but the heavy lifting, which takes a human several hours, is quick work for a machine.
Other administrative tasks that AI could handle include creating media lists and speaking databases. Imagine feeding thousands of data points and getting a 90 percent or better accurate list.
Next, consider sentiment analysis. Advances in natural language processing make it possible for a machine to understand tone and tell you how the world feels about your brand. Theoretically you could feed hundreds of thousands of articles and social media posts into the system and gain insights in minutes. The task then becomes what to do with that knowledge, rather than how to find it.
A few years ago, the Associated Press started experimenting with bot-written news stories, particularly financial ones. Technology for content creation is already being used, so why does PR still write press releases, blog posts and bylined articles?
Well, that might not be the case in five years. Again, using thousands of data points from existing internal and external content, a machine could create a month’s worth of blog content in less than a day. The content might be flawed, but it would require just a few minutes of human polishing to get it ready to post.
Now imagine marrying that content with Google’s SEO data to ensure that it will get ranked higher; that, too, can be done today.
Echo and Echo Dot were the best-selling holiday products for Amazon in 2016, and millions of people are talking to Alexa directly, no keyboard required. Given all that, it’s not farfetched to think that one day media relations will be done by a “pitch bot.”
In the short term, PR pros can use AI to find out details about a reporter before pitching. We always recommend that pros do their homework before sending a pitch, AI can make this process not only faster but more accurate, highlighting topics of interest and tone of articles, and even making suggestions about what type of pitch might work.
Couldn’t a machine be programmed to review all the news articles written in a certain timeframe, website content, planned internal and external events, and upcoming corporate announcements and put together a fairly good PR plan within minutes?
The ability to amass large volumes of data, identify patterns and formulate analyses could improve PR plans. Using data to make decisions and plans is done today, but that process could become even more automated.
What can we do to stay relevant?
Value from humans will lie in managing the machine, including fine-tuning the work; being creative, which is something beyond machines’ ken; and infusing our work with emotion and empathy, uniquely human traits that are the building blocks for all relationships.
What task(s) would you happily hand over to a machine today if you could?
A version of this post first appeared on Shift Communications’ blog.