Taking PR into the age of AI and automation

When AI, automation, and PR were first mentioned in the same sentence, most people were intrigued but reluctant at the same time. Despite initial hesitation, the application of AI in the PR industry is going to happen and the use cases are quite diverse, ranging from tracking and predicting consumer behaviour to conceptualisation and optimising user experiences.

AI’s growth coincides with a rapidly changing media landscape in Asia. In recent years – digital media has impacted audience attention, while journalists face tighter deadlines, trying to break a story first. With billions of dollars flooding into artificial intelligence and machine learning, both the PR industry and the media can benefit from this development. But how exactly is this dynamic going to change?

Why do we need AI?

While marketers already utilise machine learning, analysing data of customers more efficiently, AI is the next evolutionary stepping stone. But what exactly will AI do for PR? Can AI help to understand a journalist’s beat better? Will it ensure that they publish a certain story?

The short answer is no, but the benefits of AI are not hard to understand, as simple processes can be automated and optimised. Using scripted knowledge and repeated tasks, AI is already solving problems in other industries, including traffic control, manufacturing, and fraud detection.

Complementing – not replacing

The key to answering these questions is not how AI will replace human skills, but rather how it is going to complement and support PR professionals. There is no denying that automation is already important to the PR industry today. Media monitoring, for example, is often perceived as a tiresome but necessary task. The use of automation to track media activity frees up working hours that can be used more efficiently.

Besides effective media monitoring, AI will also support PR professionals with tasks that are traditionally time-consuming. Researching, compiling reports, and building media lists no longer will have to be done manually. The predictive analysis capabilities of AI will offer deeper insights into trends and market movements.

Predicting social sentiments

Using AI technology, PR practitioners have the option to leverage real-time data to make more informed decisions, which is especially useful in the realm of crisis communications. Remember when UBER (and United Airlines) failed to understand the extent of their crisis? The #boycottuber (or #boycottunited) storm became bigger than it needed to be from the brand’s perspective.

Using predictive measuring of social media sentiments, both brands could have reacted more quickly – instead of sitting it out. Unfortunately for UBER, it once again faces consumer backlash for covering up a massive hack and security breach that exposed the data of 57 million users and drivers. Let’s hope the ride sharing app has learnt from its mistake and is better equipped to handle #boycottuber. 

While AI might not offer insights into what a particular journalist thinks, certain algorithms will be able to predict sentiments as well as when interest among consumers might peak, offering an opportunity s to get certain stories published.

Nurturing media relations

One shouldn’t be lured into a false sense of guaranteed coverage and be confuddled by the notion of how AI can help to increase your chances of being featured as an industry thought-leader.

Media relations have always been a crucial part of any seasoned PR practitioner’s arsenal. Having a relationship with media will continue to give you two things:

  1. The ability to pick up your phone and speak to them about a potential story (and the odds of them entertaining your pitch despite their busy schedules).
  2. They will reciprocate and reach out to you if you have proven yourself to be a reliable go-to person that provides the information they need, accurately, and in a timely fashion.

The human interaction will continue to be relevant in PR because AI won’t be able to build bonds with journalists. While AI is becoming more than a resourceful helping hand, the intuition of PR professionals is still needed to make sense of it all.

Need help with your PR strategy? Drop us a message at hello@mutant.com.my