This article originally appeared on IPRA, where Mary Poliakova as a member has been sharing her expertise.
AI is here to stay. Let’s cooperate rather than compete and maximise the benefits PR pros can get from the newest technologies. By Mary Poliakova
I wouldn’t be the only PR specialist who noticed the recent heated discussions around artificial intelligence explosively taking hold all over the media space. Not only are the AI technologies well aware of the feed we like on social media, but also the ChatGPT already helps us get employment by writing cover letters. And although I can relate to Anthony D’Angelo’s sentiment on new technologies being exciting but also a bit intimidating, I myself decided to follow a macro approach.
Yes, new technologies will (and always did) inevitably penetrate economic and communications industries, influencing and changing how we do our jobs. But I believe the question of whether AI will eventually replace human specialists is out of touch in the coming years. Public relations have always been dependent on human interaction, the quality artificial technologies certainly lack (at least for now).
Still, AI advancements can come in handy for PR organisations by taking over routine tasks and allowing PR practitioners to devote more time to creative duties — responsibilities AI can hardly implement successfully at the moment. My PR and content teams have already teamed up to test AI, and here is what we’ve learned from 3 practical applications of this technology in everyday work.
How can AI help PR professionals today?
1. Enhancing content creation
One of the hottest topics going around on the net these days is how AI can work in place of content writers to produce various materials. I am inclined to agree with this, but only up to a certain degree.
An AI is capable of generating texts in a wide range of styles and formats, be it a short comment or a whole opinion piece. You just need to set it with some guidelines and general key points and let it go to work. That said, the testing conducted by my team shows that the results can be mixed.
Due to the existing tech limitations, the final texts may feel somewhat bland and not very “human-like” in some cases. This becomes particularly obvious when dealing with opinions or interviews. An AI lacks a deeper understanding of human emotions, which are crucial in shaping unique and personalised thoughts and connecting to the audience.
Another big problem that needs to be highlighted here is reliability. Just because you had an artificial intelligence write you an article, it doesn’t guarantee that everything written is factually correct. AI writing tools collect information from different sources and reword it into something coherent, but they don’t actually understand that information. Which means that if you don’t have someone knowledgeable on the subject check the generated text for facts and data, it can get a lot of things wrong.
As such, it is always better to allow a living person – an editor – to go through the material and iron out the kinks. For the time being, I would recommend using artificial intelligence for shorter formats, like social media comments or blog posts. There is usually less room for mistakes with these.
2. Deciphering audio recordings
PR professionals are tasked with taking the brand message, the core values and beliefs of our clients and delivering them to the target audience in a comprehensive fashion. But the reality is that oftentimes our clients simply don’t have the time to sit down and write their thoughts out.
In such cases it is a common enough practice to ask for voice recordings, as they take less time on the client’s side to compile. The task of deciphering those recordings, however, falls upon the PR team, and it can be very time consuming.
AI can help with the deciphering process via speech recognition and language processing techniques. Its ML (machine learning) algorithms can transcribe spoken words into text and analyse it to extract meanings and context from the conversation. Doing so can save a lot of time for the PR manager, as they don’t have to transcribe the whole thing by hand.
3. Compilation of media and journalist databases
A massive chunk of work for PR professionals comes from having to determine the best media and journalists to target as part of our client’s PR campaigns. This often involves scouring various media in search of people who write on the topics that are relevant to the client, locating their contact data and writing personalised pitches.
Of course, that’s a lot of work to do manually, so for a while now there have existed tools like RocketReach, MuckRack, Mailtrack, etc., that make it considerably easier to find and reach the right people from one place (more or less).
Artificial intelligence can be considered the next step in the development of such platforms. It can help PR managers in compiling journalist databases by going through vast amounts of data from various sources and identifying which journalists cover our desired topics, as well as which publications they write for. AI algorithms can also automatically update databases with new information as it becomes available, saving time and effort for PR managers.
Summing up: AI technology advances are worthy of teaming up with
Public relations have always been about human interaction and building trustworthy connections. So it is highly doubtful that artificial intelligence will be enough to replace this crucial factor. At least, not for quite some time to come. But the thing is, it doesn’t need to. This is about working together with the new trends rather than competing against them.
Our testing of AI tools is still ongoing, and there will doubtlessly be more to look into in the future. But preliminary results suggest that there are many benefits for PR professionals to find in these tools. We can boost our creativity and performance by letting the tech save a lot of time, thus improving the efficiency of our work and the scale on which we can operate. Automation of business processes is always a good way to develop and grow your business and services. So let’s get to work.