Be Excited (not afraid) of Robot Dreams for PR

water-839590_1280We are increasingly living in Issac Asimov’s Robot series. We have Robo Advisors advising millions on how to protect themselves with insurance. We have robot AI reporters writing news, novellas and press releases that are becoming indistinguishable to human writing. So why not robots replacing PR professionals?

Sure, Public Relations has a lot of boring tasks that every professional would like a robot to take over. Writing a press release, developing reports and replying to social media comments can be laborious. By using a defined formula and approach that is more factual than creative, robots can take these over. Right?

Recently, chatbots have been shown to be quite adept at handling most replies, with only the most complex ones being addressed to their human masters. Just ask the 20 million men who found out that they were being convinced by 70,000 fembots to keep paying their monthly Ashley Madison subscriptions.

Marketing automation is also shaping the PR industry. With advances in programmatic advertising, PR can help marketing teams to develop targeted campaigns across diverse online media to raise awareness, reduce a criticism and do various other tasks.

They can use bots to monitor the constant chatter across multiple social media channels and find out the mood about a certain topic—or identify topics that help them to pitch more effectively. They can also swamp communications. In Mexico, the Institutional Revolutionary Party successfully used Tweetbots to blunt grassroots social media criticisms, making them useful tools for strategic political PR.

But will a PR professional be ultimately unseated by an AI-driven software? No. The reason lies in the context. [bctt tweet=”Will a #PR pro be ultimately unseated by an AI-driven #software?”]

Bots and robots must still follow rules of engagement that are firmly written by humans. They are excellent in thinking and handling pattern-oriented tasks. If creative work can be broken down into patterns, it can be coded. This has resulted in robots creating poems and original masterpieces that mimic human-inspired Renaissance period paintings.

The real challenge lies in contextual thinking. If a client is in a crisis, helping them to maneuver and thwart criticisms hurled at them needs a deft mind that understands the situation and recognizes the hidden reasons. A human also needs to understand whether a journalist is baiting them or hurling thinly veiled lies.

If a firm is looking to gain better traction within a certain media sphere, you need a real person to build a relationship with the editor and gently persuade your client to offer insights and quotes. You also need a nimble mind to turn a conversation to a direction that is useful to your client or company.

We can code human behavior patterns, and we can even learn to predict them. But you can’t substitute cunningness, slyness, craftiness and shrewdness. That may be the case in the future, but by that point, we would need to accept robots as an independent thinking class of living beings.

However, robots WILL shape PR. As the function of PR moves to the center of marketing in many companies handling social media marketing and digital communications, automated AIs can help to reduce the load, sieve through bucket loads of comments and identify patterns. It will also help PR to become more strategic and less laborious.

For us, we see it a good thing. Let them do tasks they are well suited for, so we can concentrate on building and managing a good PR strategy.