In the last column, my objective was to generally talk about AI and the possibilities for PR. If we go back about 10 years, it would be safe to say that social media platforms were the ‘Shiny new object’ that AI is today. Having done projects around VR/AR, I can say data driven and immersive communication modes are good but somehow we don’t see them as much as we should. It will change, I am confident. It is evolution, after all.
As promised, here’s my take on where AI can be an ally for PR folks! This is purely basis general reading, chats with fellow communication professionals and a bit of instrumentation, automation and control engineering knowledge that still resides in some part of my brain!
- Data driven decision making
AI is all about data, colossal amount of data mining, cognification of data and picking up patterns to predict the next steps! If data is correct, decisions cannot be wrong. So at a very base level, with AI around, PR professionals would be able to avoid guess work and decide basis data; when to launch a campaign, which region to pilot it, whom to engage with and may be throw up names of relevant and the most appropriate influencers to work with! Imagine your system that has the media lists popping up journalist recommendation’s basis the stories they do! (Just like a Netflix or Amazon Prime recommends you movies of similar genres). Think about the impact analysis that AI can do, that too with real time updates, trends, coverage sentiment and what it could do to your decision making!
The measurements would become robust and I feel there could be a completely new set of success metrics that will replace the AVE’s!
- Realistic audience sentiment analysis during crisis and brand health
I have personally experienced the ‘need to respond’ during an incident (that is not even a crisis, yet). The ambiguous situation makes even the best of the crisis communicators over react and take decisions that may be regrettable. Just to confess, I have chosen to respond in a particular way when a potentially damaging tweet did it’s around some time back only to realise that the best way to fight this situation was to keep quiet. This was basis the analysis from our ORM (Online Reputation Management) tool which revealed that the reach of the tweet is insignificant and if I respond from the Godrej handle, it might actually go viral! A deeper analysis showed that 96% of overall sentiment was neutral, about 3% was negative and rest was positive, thanks to the trust our audiences have in the brand.
Again, imagine, during a crisis, if your AI based crisis communication system mines data globally and the algorithms through their language processing ability establish the region and audience segment wise sentiment of the narrative. How easy it would be for crisis managers to then respond, that too without getting overtly emotional as they can get in tough situations. Amazing naa? Well, let me stretch this imagination further – Today a lot of digital content, be it tweets, social media posts, videos, podcasts, text messages etc., goes unmined. How cool it would be if any AI based system can process this data and give out indicators of the brand health vis-à-vis competition, in real time?
My strong belief is that going forward, we as the PR community will have to embrace AI for enhancing effectiveness!
- Bespoke messaging with micro targeting
Stories is what we absorb as humans. Imagine they are absolutely targeted to specific audience segments in a way (tone) they like and place (platforms) where they consume it most of the times! This could be epic! What fun naa? The era of bespoke messaging is around the corner, I guess!
AI can actually enable micro targeting and that too in innovative ways using say VR and AR apart from the regular modes. It could probably redefine how press conferences or briefings are done! For global organisations, AI can probably help better localisation of content.
With AI in the PR operations, a lot of good things can happen. Professionals would be able to do more meaningful, intellectual work (of course, if they chose to!) as mundane repetitive tasks would be taken care of by AI.
Having said that, I still firmly believe that storytelling, authenticity, empathy and trust are four pillars of PR and cannot be ignored. While AI will be a great enabler for improving effectiveness, the human touch can only be felt when humans tell the story of their organisations in a compelling manner!
PR professionals should enhance their skill sets and adopt AI to further show the indispensable value that they bring to the table. In fact, contrary to the theory that AI will replace jobs, I feel, it will up the game of PR. Very soon, AI may generate media lists, recommend influencers, analyse sentiments or even write a press release in hundred languages with zero error.
However, can AI take our media friends for lunch to discuss story angles, or empathetically explain the organisations stance during a crisis or for that matter plan exclusives with favourite media friends?