Four Steps to Prepare Your PR Business for AI

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While Artificial Intelligence (AI) may seem beyond our reach, it is becoming increasingly mainstream and undoubtedly will play a pivotal role in the future of PR. In fact, it has already entered the communication world, where companies like Condé Nast, Coca Cola and L’Oréal are using it to strengthen social media campaigns through a better understanding of consumer behavior.

AI does this by observing, interpreting and evaluating vast volumes of unstructured data that would boggle the human mind. In the process, it uncovers patterns that reveal more targeted, wide-ranging and in-depth insights into consumers. AI can complete these tasks in seconds.

Just imagine what this technology could do for the communication industry.

You won’t have to for long; the AI revolution is coming and in a nutshell, it will allow us to do more faster and for less. We need to prepare our businesses now to adopt this technology. Here are steps that can help:

Understand AI: AI is still mistrusted amid fears that it will steal human jobs or bring about the collapse of the world as we know it. This attitude can be traced to a lack of understanding about AI, and more precisely about what it can and cannot do. AI is incapable of completing the human tasks needed in PR, such as creating long-form content and connecting face-to-face. This will be so for the foreseeable future. AI, however, can provide deep consumer insights and automate a range of tasks, which should appeal to anyone who has manually created coverage reports or tracked social media campaigns. AI is complex, but we must invest time to research it and explore its capabilities.

Create an AI Culture: Once we have developed a deeper understanding of AI, we must share this knowledge with our teams and foster a culture of AI. Besides being complicated and at times overwhelming, AI also is inspiring because it represents the pinnacle of human achievement and has limitless potential for businesses. To thrive in the AI era, PR teams must be equipped for the change practically and mentally. Preparation activities could range from hosting team training workshops and brainstorming sessions to assess where AI could add value, to expanding IT infrastructures and hiring team members with specialized computer engineering, programming or data skills.

Explore AI Tools: AI-based tools already exist. Leaders in this technology, like Google, IBM and Microsoft, offer comprehensive portfolios of AI platforms, solutions and applications for businesses, such as IBM Watson and Cortana. Other companies offer more specialized, AI-powered social media intelligence and analytics to inform creative decision making, including Unmetric, Cortex, Crimson Hexagon, Simply Measured and Meltwater. For most PR teams, it will be some time before AI systems can be brought in house due to cost and skill requirements. Exploring AI tools and services offered by third parties is certainly a worthwhile endeavor because it offers a way in to this technology.

Test the ROI of AI: You understand the importance of ROI in PR. The burning question is how much value can AI add to your business? To find out launch a pilot project. Adopt an AI tool that you believe could support and enhance your day-to-day work. In the PR world, AI-based tools could be trialled for stand-alone social media campaigns to offer a point of comparison, or integrated into reporting and measuring methods to assess the time they save. In the run-up to the AI era, experimentation is not only encouraged, but compulsory.

As we move toward the full-scale adoption of AI, it is imperative that we prepare ourselves to benefit from what is perhaps the most revolutionary technology ever created.

Ahmad Itani is the founder and CEO of Cicero & Bernay Public Relations