Use AI to excel in the next frontier of PR

Opinion: We must use AI to excel in the next frontier of PR

Kerry Sheehan, the CIPR’s AI in PR panel PR director, talks about how AI is shaping the next frontier of PR and considers the findings of the panel’s new research paper.

Use AI to excel in the next frontier of PR

Kerry Sheehan

The fascinating thing about AI has been the ‘fear’, or at least the idea, that it’s coming after our jobs. Some people have been quick to ask: “When will a machine do your job better than you?”

This week sees the publication of Jean Valin’s fantastic CIPR AI in PR Panel paper – a must read for all PRs. It highlights how AI may affect the PR industry and the opportunities it brings, with in-depth analysis of the skills and PR tools currently being used across public relations.

The real story is that AI is already ingrained in the practice of PR. In fact, it’s time for the PR world to embrace artificial intelligence.

AI and automation is coming for PR

PR and artificial intelligence are rarely mentioned in the same sentence. In fact, less than 5% of news stories that discuss the PR industry also mention AI.  But AI isn’t going away.

Current estimates put as many as 40% of tasks currently performed by people across all sectors being automated with automation and AI technologies. And for the PR mainstream, the technology is starting to catch up.

AI has changed, and will continue to change, the way we search for content and digest news and views. As for our jobs, new technologies, software and innovations in PR are working to give the PR pro more power in an industry that has yet to see the kind of human and machine interaction other sectors are witnessing.

However, as Jean Valin’s analysis points out, we are a long way off from seeing AI replace humans in PR.

PR must embrace new technologies

It’s clear in assessing what technology has done for marketing that PR pros really do have to be on the tech side of change.

So far, we’ve been relatively quiet on the conversation about what AI can do for us – and it’s this much needed discussion the CIPR AI in PR Panel is facilitating.

As Jean Valin’s paper highlights, the reality of AI for the PR profession is that it’s been the not-so-scary backbone of innovation in the sector for decades. We only need to look at AI as augmented intelligence which offers the possibility of owning an increasing number of inputs and outputs in a way which humans can’t do without a helping hand.

Research and analysis has been done by humans in the past, and often still is. But with AI software, PR measurement technologies can reduce time spent reporting by almost 75%. As data gets more and more unwieldy, AI is the power that helps us tame it – and we need to embrace that.

Having access to tools that alert you when your competitor is getting a big increase in coverage (or share of voice) and suggests your next move can only be a positive addition to our toolbox. The same goes for tools that highlight the fine-tuned stakeholder audiences you need to work with more to get the results you need.

However, as you delve deeper into AI products you realise that human input is critical. An example of this is PR analytics. Someone has to give the tools the parameters to look at and evaluate otherwise the output won’t tell you the correct story.

The human touch will always dominate campaigns and PR programmes. But we should always be leveraging tools which use AI to make our next PR move more powerful – or even suggest a tactical move we did not know we needed!

PR software won’t stop at reports and media contact lists. There’s huge value in offering PR professionals tools that truly understand their workflow and offer processes that eliminate errors and duplication.

To discover more about the future of AI in PR and how technology can streamline your workflows, download Jean Valin’s new CIPR #AIinPR paper here.

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