And that’s a very good thing.
Artificial Intelligence platforms cut costs by analyzing a company's data to determine exactly how to speak to their target audience. Knowing how to optimally engage customers before launching a campaign changes the game completely. Instead of spending precious time and money convening a focus group, PR practitioners can quickly analyze engagement rates of social media posts, Google AdWords and retargeting metrics. In my opinion, AI’s automation of many PR jobs couldn’t have come sooner.
Now, before my colleagues decide to jump ship and become Uber drivers, hear me out. Freeing up a PR professional’s time to draft and develop campaigns that engage their audiences in impactful ways is beneficial to everyone. For starters, it will make our industry much more adept in the art of communication. The more we practice our craft with real people and influencers, the better we will all become. That kind of discipline only comes from spending more time writing, speaking, texting and posting. While the importance of understanding the value of research and how to conduct it will never diminish, doing so at the expense of actually conveying key messages to audiences will impact a PR practitioner’s worth to an organization.
Second, reducing the cost of research through Artificial Intelligence makes engaging in successful PR strategies more attainable to more organizations. Until now, only big companies that could afford comprehensive research could direct efforts with precision. Not anymore. Practically every business can now make strategic PR decisions based on relevant, real-time data.
Last, AI helps conduct A/B and multivariate testing at the click of a mouse. Segmenting lists and evaluating different images, headlines, distribution times and calls to action used to require an exhaustive amount of effort. Nowadays, PR practitioners can set this up through systems like Constant Contact, MailChimp and, my personal favorite, Robly in a matter of minutes.
For those in the PR profession who remain concerned that bots will one day take over the primary job of communicating with audiences, fear not. Like any good AI engine, bots like Hootsuite’s AutoSchedule, which determines the best time to post will support, but not replace, the mission-critical components of our profession. Bots, with all of their capabilities, still cannot account for every conversational nuance. Humans will continue as the primary vehicle to engage other humans. AI will most certainly play a more significant role in engaging audiences, through predictive calls to action, copy, and optimized design, but it won’t take top billing, at least for the foreseeable future.
About The Author: David Oates is President of Stalwart Communications, a San Diego-based public relations firm. He also directs such efforts for RapportBoost.AI, a Los Angeles based start-up that applies Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence to Conversational Commerce. He can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].