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March 19, 2018

Team Member Renee Spurling

Renee Spurlin


Executive Vice President

This article originally appeared in the Hypepotamus.

As in most industries, there has been much discussion about how AI will (and won’t) revolutionize public relations. The topic was recently discussed on a Social Shake-Up panel called Artificial Intelligence: What Communicators Need to Know Now About AI, and the conclusion was clear: AI may transform ways in which PR professionals do certain tasks, but it won’t revolutionize the industry as a whole, at least not for a long time. After all, a large part of PR is about relationships — with customers, reporters, communities, and employees — and relationships will always require a human element.

That said, AI is impacting PR now and will continue to do so in the future. There are immediate opportunities for high-growth startups and burgeoning mid-market companies to take advantage of AI without busting their burn rates or over-expanding their marketing teams.

The media pitch is slowly evolving

Helping companies earn media is the bread and butter of the PR industry. Did you know that the Associate Press uses AI to write earnings reports? In fact, it produces 12x more stories than it was able to prior by using AI.

As media outlets turn to AI for routine reports and reporters employ it to smartly scan inboxes, PR pitches, press releases and content marketing will need to change. We as practitioners, along with clients or internal teams, presently spend a lot of time ensuring that our content is SEO-optimized. In the near future, we’ll also need to be sure that PR materials are easily understood by AI.

Measurement makes more of an impact

PR measurement has been a hot topic of debate for the past decade. In fact, according to the Soda Report, “clients and agencies both wholeheartedly agree that agencies struggle to prove the impact of their work through measurement, while clients feel increasing pressure to prove the ROI of agency investments.” While new technology has helped improve reporting infinitely, AI can power more sophisticated reporting — quickly gleaning sentiment of social posts and news articles for you and your competitors, and even offering recommendations.

Check out some of the sample reports from TrendKite, for example. They include insights on the impact of PR, key message pull-through and sentiment analysis — data that would be tedious and time-consuming to analyze manually.

Strategy is becoming smarter

With advanced measurement and insights, PR teams can utilize AI to better identify trends and emerging threats. With an unprecedented level of understanding, PR can create content that speaks to key customer needs, proactively address potential crises before they expand and create smarter overall strategies — all while measuring ROI. Such benefits can be incredibly powerful for companies at any stage of their growth cycle.

One quick win for startups

Of course, the examples referenced above all represent larger transformations requiring data and technology to truly capitalize on. Looking for a quicker way to incorporate AI in PR? Try voice recognition software. Most companies have some great recordings of webinars, speaking engagements, and conferences that have been sitting around waiting to be recapped. Utilizing voice detection and translation software, you can turn these recordings into written content that can be used to boost SEO in blogs, sales materials, emails and more.

Each of these examples requires one key trait: constant hunger for innovation and learning. Any company, from early-stage startups though the enterprise, that embody these traits are the ones that stand to leverage AI in PR initiatives most effectively.

As vice president of analytics and digital marketing for AlloyRenee Spurlin is helping clients marry traditional PR with lead generation and marketing automation. With a master’s in corporate public relations from Boston University, Renee recently served as president of third largest chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA Atlanta).