Why and how PR pros should embrace artificial intelligence

Relax, robots are not taking your job. New technologies can ease industry professionals’ daily duties and open the door to greater career achievements. Just breathe—and read on. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is finding its way into customer service, online search and even the crafting of articles.

All this gives rise to a new phenomenon for communicators: “content intelligence.”

Brandon Andersen, chief strategist at Ceralytics, defines it as “the science of identifying and predicting the content topics and themes that provide the most value to your audiences. It answers the question, ‘What content should I write?’” 

Content intelligence focuses on high-value content creation and the hyper-targeting of audiences. 

The widespread investment in and use of big data are changing the foundation of public relations. Likewise, new technologies embedded in natural language processing (NLP), semantic analysis, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence are requiring PR pros to embrace new methods—but benefits abound.

In addition to managing routine tasks, AI can analyze data to help develop targeted stories, make recommendations, monitor digital media channels, and even predict customer wants and needs.

Here are four ways that PR pros can implement emerging technologies:

  1. Get educated.

PR practitioners can benefit by understanding the differences distinguishing AI, ML, NLP and semantic analysis. 

Think of these technologies as a layering of one to the next.

  • AI teaches systems to perform tasks based on ML and NLP. Think about Alexa, Siri, “Hey, Google” or Apple’s HomePod. AI can differentiate between languages and visual perceptions, including images and video. 
  • ML enables computers to learn from patterns. Based in predictive analytics, ML can help practitioners identify patterns to predict future actions. 
  • Semantic analysis is understanding the emotion, sentiment and tone of online conversations about your brand. PR pros can use semantic analysis to choose the right words and develop personalized experiences based on customer service ratings, comments, retweets and shares. 
  • NLP enables practitioners to analyze text, extract data and retrieve key findings to customize campaigns.

The unparalleled progress of these technologies affords PR pros the analytical intelligence to predict what their customers want and to proactively create personalized content.

  1. Generate optimized content. 

Search is a crucial technology that has reshaped our industry. Individuals searching the web have four motives: I want to know, I want to go, I want to do, I want to buy. 

Tapping into each motive promotes high-quality, data-driven content based on user-centric strategies, supporting the ultimate goal for a writer—being widely read.

Use Google’s EAT and YMYL search guidelines to develop high-quality content.

  • EAT (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness).  An acronym for what every high-quality page needs to achieve the “top of search” and improved relevancy.
  • YMYL (your money or your life). Pages that could affect users’ happiness, health or wealth. 

Understanding your company’s social stream data can help practitioners develop tailored content.

  1. Remember the PESO model.

Gini Dietrich, the paradigm’s creator, said it best: “The model belongs to all communicators and is relevant to the evolution of our industry.” 

PESO in brief:  

Paid media. Understand how, why and what is tracked online to offer better strategic advice to clients and garner stronger returns. 

Earned media. Increasing favorable outcomes through strong relationships requires a personal investment. Even in our digital world, natural language is important for search, but relationships are still top dog.

Shared media. Understand how digital laws, public policy and best practices affect your domestic and global exchanges with various stakeholders. The world is flat when it comes to digital—with no better example than in shared media. The ripple effect is significant. 

Owned media. Use research, analysis and intelligence to inform your strategy and sell your decisions. Don’t simply recite the analytics; use them to ground and drive decisions for superior outcomes.  

  1. Do damage control.

Within seconds, a crisis can break on social media, and a brand’s reputation can disappear. 

Rather than merely manage a crisis, why not anticipate one?

Armed with AI, practitioners can monitor and analyze countless social media conversations. AI is so accurate that the technology can pinpoint the moment a storm is brewing by identifying unusual patterns. 

Will AI take over PR? No, but it can help. AI is the science; PR is the art. Relationships are at the foundation of everything that PR pros do. 

However, to thrive in today’s digitally focused work environment, PR pros must adapt their approach and embrace the quantitative side of our profession.

Rather than fearing robots, practitioners should rejoice. AI sits at the intersection of human interactions and computer intelligence. There is no better time to be a practitioner.

Regina Luttrell (@ginaluttrell) is an assistant professor of public relations and social media at Syracuse University. Adrienne A. Wallace (@adriwall) is an assistant professor in advertising/public relations at Grand Valley State University and a strategist at BlackTruck Media & Marketing.

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