By Nahla Nana, Director of Communication, IABC , EMENA Imagine a humanoid robot walking into a conference room and making a call with its client to discuss the latest in a PR campaign and formulate plans for a special event for an upcoming strategic announcement. While I do not write off this as a utopian concept, I would say humans will remain in command of the most of the tasks in a public relations professional’s job description at least in the foreseeable future.
As we are already witnessing, almost every discussion on disruptive technologies including Artificial Intelligence eventually ends up in stoking fears over job losses for another time.
Problem of plenty?
Although this may be true that many industries are threatened by the disruption, which often leads to closure of some divisions or headcount reduction, in public relations business it is certainly bringing positive changes.
No one will take over its areas of expertise, however, the industry has to brace itself for a major shake-up.
Powered by Big Data, Artificial Intelligence holds promise for businesses across industries. As an industry whose core competency lies in shaping the public opinion, public relations will be in need of data more than others.
There is a plenty of data out there and organizations have to systematically analyze them to derive actionable insights to deliver measurable results for their clients.
Adoption of machine-learning algorithms will quickly become a boardroom agenda for public relations firms in the Middle East owing to their potential to dramatically improve efficiency and performance at organizations.
From identifying the right audience and media to understanding readership behaviors, the technology will trigger positive changes across the functions in the communications domain.
Preferences and choices of consumers are constantly changing and millennials, who seek unique experiences, necessitate the demand for a new equation for every campaign.
We have to admit that humans have very limited capabilities in aggregating emotions and interpreting them unbiasedly to dig out the underlying themes to offer products and services that are perfectly aligned with audiences’ interests.
Whereas for an intelligent machine, consumer emotions and behaviors are just data, which is its forte. It can uncover patterns and regularities and even recognize anomalies from a variety of data sources.
These will enable public relations professionals to better understand their readership and create the content that reflects their preferences.
Similarly, the vast trove of data will also enhance the scope and breadth of research which will enable public relations firms to make fast, informed decisions on targeting, positioning and delivering the right messages.
Additionally, Artificial Intelligence-powered applications can predict media trends during crisis situations of their clients to allow PR professionals to create fitting communication plans.
At the crossroads
Furthermore, efficiency and effectiveness of communication with clients and media have reached a new level with the advent of this cutting-edge technology.
Many organizations have already adopted chatbots, which typically use text-based live chat, to interact with their clients and to respond to press inquiries.
Will machines replace humans in public relations business? Before answering this question, one has to battle myriad questions that follow.
Can machines establish and maintain relationships with a client’s target audience, media, and other stakeholders? Can they conceptualize and execute a PR campaign?
Machines only repeat what they are commanded to do. Therefore, humans will continue to man the business and will carry out cognitive tasks including content creation, media and government relations, and crisis and internal communications among others.
Nonetheless, PR professionals will have to master commands of artificial intelligence to start assigning jobs to machines, and hone their skills to sustain in a competitive world.
It is too early to predict what trends will prevail in 2018, however, I can say with strong conviction that technological innovations will continue to shape the future of the public relations sector.
The views expressed by the author are her own and do not necessarily represent those of Gulf Marketing Review.