The power of AI in the PR landscape

“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” – William Gibson.

A decade ago, envisioning AI as a mainstay in public relations may have evoked raised eyebrows or dismissive chuckles. It was a distant dream. But, in the blink of an eye, here we are: AI is not merely a supplementary tool, but the very foundation that’s redefining corporate communication. My journey through this industry has witnessed transformations, but nothing quite as profound as what AI promises. It isn’t just about tweaking how we work; it’s about overhauling our perspectives, methodologies, and outcomes.

AI: More Than Just Automation

When we start discussing AI in the world of PR, there’s this immediate image that pops up in most minds: Machines taking over those repetitive tasks, the day-to-day stuff that can sometimes feel, well, mundane. And sure, that’s a starting point. But let me tell you, that’s just scratching the surface! We are on the brink of a revolution where AI doesn’t just automate work – it innovates it. AI’s true prowess is in its unparalleled ability to dissect and decipher large datasets in milliseconds. According to a study by IDC, by 2025 the global data sphere will grow to 175 zettabytes, and amidst this data deluge, manually extracting actionable insights becomes an uphill battle. For the modern PR professional, this AI-enabled analysis translates into a proper understanding of audience behaviors, preferences, and sentiments, offering a vantage point that was previously inconceivable. With AI, it’s not just about working faster; it’s about working smarter, tapping into patterns and nuances that can significantly amplify our PR strategies.

Why embrace AI in PR?

By analysing digital footprints and behaviors, AI tools can pinpoint where and when a message will most resonate. For instance, Spotify employs AI to analyse listening habits, enabling advertisers to target audiences based on moods and moments. This level of granularity ensures that messages are not just heard, but they make an impact. Real-time is the new normal. AI-powered sentiment analysis tools scan the digital realm continuously, identifying potential PR crises in their nascent stages. You know, I recently came across a study by Deloitte Insights that truly struck a chord with me. Now, stay with me on this: they spoke to over 500 top-notch crisis management experts. And guess what? A whopping 60% of them felt that the number of organisational crises has skyrocketed in just the last decade. Let that sink in for a moment. Look around. The business world as we know it today, with its ups, downs, and everything in between, stands as a witness to this very insight. And here’s the kicker – no organisation today, no matter how illustrious its past or grand its presence, is immune to these crises. The terrain has changed, and we need to be ready for it! The accelerated melding of technology and automation is a double-edged sword — on one hand, it paves the way for efficiency and innovation; on the other, it introduces intricate vulnerabilities.

We live in an age where everything is magnified by the power of connection. Think about this: just 500 tweets! That’s all it takes to start a trend, to spark conversations worldwide. The speed at which information travels today? It’s staggering. And what does that mean for brands and agencies like ours? It means we have to be on our toes, always ready, always alert. We can’t just be prepared; we need to respond with agility, with precision, and without a second’s hesitation.

Apart from this, I do believe that AI can aid in story-telling as well. Storytelling isn’t just an art; it’s a science backed by data. AI empowers PR professionals to craft narratives that resonate, by sifting through mounds of data for patterns, trends, and insights. Take Netflix’s content strategy as a case in point. Their decision to invest in shows like “Stranger Things” wasn’t just a creative whim; it was backed by AI-analysed viewing habits of millions, ensuring that the content resonated with a massive audience. This shift to AI content creation is seen as a cynical cost saver, the company is actually saving $1 billion a year by using AI algorithms to keep users engaged via personalied recommendations and other account features. And this is just the beginning. Tools like GPT-3, a cutting-edge language model are aiding in content creation, from drafting press releases to generating creative campaign ideas. These advancements ensure that PR professionals can allocate their time to strategy and relationship-building, while AI handles the heavy lifting of content generation.

Despite everything, personal touch remains king. AI provides tools to customise interactions at scale. For example, AI-driven chatbots, like Mitsuku and Woebot, facilitate real-time engagement with stakeholders, answering queries, and offering personalised content recommendations based on previous interactions. This not only streamlines communication but also fosters a sense of direct connection between brands and their audiences. And before I wrap up, let me touch on one more game-changer. You know the age-old question: ‘How do we really know if our PR campaign was a hit?’ Well, thanks to AI, we’re moving past the guesswork. AI is lighting up the path by offering us concrete metrics, numbers and insights that truly tell us how effective our campaigns are. No more shooting in the dark – now, we’ve got a spotlight showing us the way. With tools that track engagement, sentiment shift, and direct business outcomes, corporate communication leaders can now see a clearer link between PR efforts and bottom-line results. According to a report, leveraging AI in PR analytics can improve the accuracy of campaign evaluations by up to 40%.

The Future Beckons

You might’ve seen Gartner’s recent projections about AI-driven operations – it’s all the sensation right now, and with good reason. AI has the power to entirely reshape how we communicate.

But let’s get one thing straight: it’s not here to snatch away our jobs or to make human creativity obsolete. No, it’s here to boost it, to elevate it. Think about it. With AI by our side, we can dive deeper for insights, spin even more captivating tales, and make our outreach far more efficient. Imagine having this powerhouse of an assistant, guiding us to make smarter moves.

And as we journey forward in the world of PR, it’s clear that adopting AI isn’t just the ‘in thing’. It’s not just a passing fad. It’s an absolute must. The future beckons, and it’s an exciting one!

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Asif Upadhye on Twitter
Asif Upadhye
Director at SPRD
Asif Upadhye, Director, SPRD | Stories.PR.Digital, a new-age Public Relations think tank backed by ideators, wordsmiths and design junkies focussed on delivering bespoke services. He sees SPRD as a Digital First Communications agency that partners with Public Relations & Corporate Communications teams to spread the good word!

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