Fear Not, AI Can Help Prove PR Results & ROI

Some PR pros may fear or resist artificial intelligence (AI). They view it as a threat, worrying it could replace humans with robots. But that’s hardly realistic. PR primarily is about relationship building, with those you represent  and reporters. And in case you haven’t seen the movies, trust me: Robots are terrible at relationships.

Instead, a more balanced view is that AI help PR pros do our jobs more efficiently. AI tools can handle time-consuming data collection. This allows us time for analyzing data, devising strategy, crafting pitches and communicating with reporters–all vital to success.

As such, with PR becoming more of a core business function, companies are seeking sophisticated ways to prove ROI. Whether you’re a brand communicator, agency pro or newly graduated PR student seeking employment, you need data-driven metrics to demonstrate the results of your efforts and translate success into tangible ROI.

Tracking Audiences

AI can be a powerful tool in that process. Here’s how:

  • Customer journey. Knowing what prompts customers to take the desired action–sign up for a demo, register for a webinar, or ultimately, buy your product–is essential. As such, AI tools can help track audience behavior to see what strategies, tactics and messaging drive desired outcomes.
  • Sales and PR. AI can help track the customer journey directly to earned media.
  • Share of voice. SOV is a measure of the market a brand holds compared to competitors. Some companies don’t fully understand how to define their SOV. They want to compare themselves to a huge public company in their space. In reality, that’s an unfair comparison. AI can help the company understand who its real competitors are by tracking industry prominence and media coverage, whether it’s positive or negative and how it changes over time. This provides a much clearer measure of SOV.
  • Target media placements. Companies often insist they want top-tier coverage. Yet decision makers, their target audience, read niche trade publications that cover their industry exclusively. AI can help determine and weigh the value of media outlets and placements based on publication prominence, readership personas, etc. This helps refine audience targeting to get maximum value from earned media.


As valuable as AI can be, hurdles remain.

First, we need agile, adaptable tools as we work in an ever-changing media landscape.

Like stars, media outlets emerge daily, get white hot and then fade. Accordingly, AI solutions must keep up and accurately report on a media property's changing value. Tools that assign a rigid value miss the full story and could mislead your decisions.

Second, the ability to leverage AI is becoming an essential skill for PR pros. Yet it's ignored in some college PR programs. While experienced professors are invaluable, some haven’t practiced PR recently. As a result, their students may enter the workforce with an antiquated view of media measurement.

To overcome that deficit, professors and PR pros at all levels must be proactive. Learn measurement and analytical skills through professional conferences, webinars or other opportunities.

Just as technology and the media landscape change constantly, we as PR pros must continually adapt to deliver the best advice, strategy and results.

Amy Dardinger is director, media relations, Next PR

[Editor's Note: The writer’s views do not necessarily reflect those of PRNEWS. We invite opposing essays from readers.]