Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around for decades. Whether when futuristically depicted in the movies or through early products demonstration in the 1950s, AI has sparked rampant debate for more than 60 years. But the conversation has reached a crescendo over the past two decades, as exponential improvements in technology emerge at warp speed. The use of AI, which has led to the development of systems that can now easily outstrip human ability to make sense of massive amounts of data, incites vast speculation about whether it and robots will ultimately displace employees.
A December 2017 study by McKinsey & Company found that 75 million to 375 million people will need to switch occupations by 2030. The good news is that plenty of work will be available to ensure full employment. But, “the transitions will be very challenging—matching or even exceeding the scale of shifts out of agriculture and manufacturing we have seen in the past.”
For now, PR professionals can breathe. According to Replaced by Robots, high level PR positions have a 1.5 percent chance of being replaced by computers in the next 20 years. At entry levels, it is 18 percent, still well below the average estimate for all jobs at 38 percent.
While machines can learn more quickly, have better memories, are more accurate, can work 24/7 and crunch massive amounts of data in record time, they cannot mimic the general human judgement that is so important to the public relations industry. These computers still lack the basics that differentiate successful PR professionals –empathy, intuition, common sense, human touch and life experience. These abstract characteristics spawn creativity and a superior PR product, and they are not replicable by a machine.
So how do we prepare for the ensuing onslaught of AI and embed it into our PR ecosystem to our advantage?
Create a fearless culture: Embrace the change. Provide learning opportunities for employees to gain knowledge about the current state of AI and the benefits it affords. Begin with a basic lesson and move onto more sophisticated use topics. Starting a dialogue takes away the fear and makes it tangible.
Assign explorers: Tap a team to brainstorm areas that would most benefit from emerging AI technology. Media monitoring, social listening and posting are good starting points. There are so many options available today like TrendKite, Synthesio, Hootsuite and others. Research and evaluate the programs that best meet your needs.
Develop a wish list: Identify all the areas that you would love to automate (even if not possible today). Think outside the box. Do you want to better define your target audience? Today, with petabytes of consumer data available, the human brain would be overwhelmed trying to analyze and sift through it all. But, in a matter of seconds, computers can help us define not just the who but the what, when, where and how of consumer habits.
Want to determine which influencers to tap? Forget looking at their number of followers. With programs like Buzzsumo, Influential and Traackr you can take most of the guesswork out of matching brands with influencers who can impact business.
Carving out time to get comfortable now with the power of this technology will yield tremendous value later. AI can create greater efficiencies, save time, and help you make more informed decisions for your clients or company. Used properly, it will remove the mundane, tedious tasks and free you to do what you do best – develop thoughtful, dynamic, creative strategies for clients.