What is AI and how can it be utilised within PR?
If you work in digital marketing, chances are you’ve seen or heard of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in the past year or so.
AI is becoming increasingly more integrated into our everyday working life and is set to become an even bigger part of it in the next few years, with advances in the technology ever-growing. With this comes many fears of whether AI can replace PR jobs and how the two will work together.
The truth is that AI has the potential to completely revolutionise the PR world. For the better! And after researching AI a lot myself over the past few weeks, I can now share my knowledge on what AI is, how it currently works with PR and how we can utilise it, and explore if it could even replace PR.
So, let’s dive in!
What is AI?
Simply put, AI refers to computers, machines and technology that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions. There are four primary types of AI:
The most basic and predictable type of AI. Reactive AI always responds to situations in the same way and this type of AI cannot function beyond the task it was designed for.
- Limited Memory
The most widely used AI today. Limited memory AI learns from past data to make predictions for the future and perform more complex tasks. It is, however, a more limited type of AI in terms of its capabilities.
- Theory of Mind
A more advanced type of AI. With theory of mind AI, machines will understand and remember emotions, and make decisions based on emotions that are similar to humans. There is still a long way to go with this technology, although a lot of advances have already been made.
- Self Aware
The most advanced type of AI. As the name says, machines will be self aware of their internal emotions and mental state, and be aware of the emotions of people around them. Self-aware AI machines will have a level of intelligence and consciousness similar to human beings, as well as their own desires, needs and complex emotions. Thankfully, humans haven’t yet developed this type of AI just yet – but we may see it in the future.
Will AI replace PR?
If you’re reading this and worrying that AI will take your job, I can assure you that there won’t be hundreds of self-aware robots stealing your pay packet anytime soon!
The key is to embrace AI and make it work for you and your everyday tasks. After all, AI is designed to make our jobs easier. Instead of focusing on the more tedious jobs we do everyday, using AI can leave us to work on the creative aspects of our jobs, such as brainstorming creative ideas, as well as devising thought-out strategies and strengthening client relationships.
Not only that, but the bottom line is that AI is technology. As much as it may try to mimic human emotions, it isn’t the same. The PR industry still relies on human, face-to-face interaction, networking and client relationships, and that is something AI cannot replicate. AI lacks imagination and true creativity, and it cannot build real relationships and converse with (human) journalists, be as creative or adapt to the ever changing world of PR as well as humans can.
But that doesn’t mean we should shy away from AI and carry on as if it didn’t exist. If PR professionals want to adapt to the ever-advancing world around us, we need to find ways to adapt and utilise AI in our strategy.
How can PR use AI?
So, how can you utilise AI to benefit PR? PR professionals can use AI for many different things in their day-to-day tasks, and chances are, you’ve probably using a lot of it already, with leading PR tools already cashing in on the new technology. Some examples include…
All you do is use an AI tool (our favourites are Midjourney, Dall E-2 and Nightcafe) and ask it to visualise certain things, and it will do it for you in a matter of minutes. You can literally ask it anything, even what Dumbledore looks like eating a Bic Mag.
If you’re like me and have also found yourself on AI TikTok, you’ll see this sort of thing a lot on there; for example: what countries are like as villains, what you would look like during historic time periods, or even what Ariana Grande sounds like singing a heavy metal song.
Country or regional specific (asking AI to visualise what X looks like in X) are successful AI PR campaigns, as they not only showcase striking images and get people talking but there’s amazing scope for international and regional specific outreach. A personal favourite is this one from Propellernet, which asked AI what countries would look like in 2100 after being affected by climate change.
Monitor media coverage
Creativity aside, AI is the easiest way for PRs to monitor media coverage. AI bots can be used to track news coverage from all over the internet to see where our stories have landed, as well as tracking impressions and sentiment for clients and competitors. It’s something our existing media monitoring tools are already doing for us everyday, such as Kantar, Meltwater and Trendkite.
AI can also track any trends in topics that are relevant to our clients, making it easier for us to understand what is happening in the media landscape and how we can best adapt content to fit the news agenda and our target audience. Again, this type of AI does already exist in many tools, such as Google Trends and NewsWhip.
Data analysis and writing press releases
One of the most time-consuming tasks of PR is analysing data, whether it be from a survey or from a big index we’ve pulled together from various internet sources. The good news is that AI can help do this, by using its automated process of scanning information to pull data from various sources together into one spot. AI also has the capability to determine the most relevant information to include in a release based on a solid backlog of audience data, to recommend which angles we can go with that will best relate to our target audiences. It can also help write press releases too.
Love it or hate it, outreaching is one of the most important jobs a PR professional does. And, you’ve guessed it, it’s something AI can help with. AI can help create personalised content for every journalist, create targeted media lists and identify relevant journalists based on previous stories they have written, help craft your journalist pitches, and send your emails and follow up emails too, intelligently deciding what day and time is best to do so. Many outreach scheduling tools already incorporate AI, such as Buzzstream and Prowly.
Analytics and reporting
One of the most important tasks is reporting on a PR campaign’s success, and this is something AI can really support with. AI can generate reports and insights on media coverage and analytics, monitor online conversations and identify sentiment and help evaluate the effectiveness of PR campaigns by providing insight into how it has performed, and then make recommendations for changes. Google Analytics is perhaps the most well-known AI analytics tool, and there are many others out there, such as Similar Web, and Coverage Book.
A final word
AI is an exciting advancement in technology and it isn’t something that PR professionals should be fretting about. If we can utilise AI to the best of our abilities, it can be a helpful tool that will enhance our jobs and allow us to work on the creativity and human interaction that’s so imperative in our industry. Take your time to learn more about AI and how it can help you, and work it into your strategy going forward if you can. There are some things machines simply cannot do, and nobody can replace a true PR pro!