Dear Colleagues:

AI is all the rage. It is part of most conversations right now that touch on technology, data, marketing and innovation.

We have much to learn, observe and influence around its potential impact on communications and public relations.

This issue of Marketing Coach highlights what we are observing and learning right now. We will keep a close eye on the evolution and revolution that is AI.

AI Implications for PR
AI's Impact on PR: Opportunities for People and Machines

In the not so distant future, Artificial Intelligence will give PR pros a better ability to create focused and relevant messages for specific audiences, argues Justin Hendrix, executive director at NYC Media Lab. "The growth in machine-generated media, when matched with personalization and recommendation engines, will open an entirely new world for PR and communications professionals."

As PR and media professionals become more adept at leveraging the capabilities of AI, it will get increasingly harder to recognize content that has been generated with AI versus that which is created by humans - and we're only at the beginning stages. Many PR professionals have not had access to the kind of data or tools that digital or social media marketers currently have. According to Stefan Tan, CEO and cofounder of Dashmote, as professionals get more access to AI data, it will enhance how well they can create targeted messaging for specific audiences. One example of how Tan sees AI changing the PR industry is the technology's ability to analyze massive data sets and trends that will allow more formulaic content like the press release to be created through automation without the PR pros having to do much of anything.

Tan thinks that AI's implications for automation will have a big impact on social media in particular. AI will dictate what an individual sees all day long by determining who that person follows based on their own style, taste and voice. As for influencers, Tan believes AI will eliminate the need for these types of clients to rely on traditional PR agencies as they will be able to take full control over their own reputations.

The thinking among experts I consulted is that PR staffing won't shrink -- yet -- but roles will change. While AI will have an impact by automating repetitive tasks, PR staff will be able to use their time on higher-level activities, such as developing relationships with the media, creating thought leadership pieces and interfacing with clients. Relationships in particular require social and emotional intelligence, which takes time and are more art than science.

"Until AI is more widespread in the world of PR, one thing will remain consistent, and that is the 'human factor' of dealing directly with people in these business relationships," observes Tan. "This is something that AI will not be able to do."
AI and the News Media
In its recently released Journalism, Media and Technology Trends and Predictions 2018 report, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism revealed how news publishers view the role of Artificial Intelligence in their industry. Asking those surveyed, "Is your company actively looking into any of the following uses of AI?", the report found that the top answers were:
  • To improve content recommendations (59%)
  • To help automate workflows (39%)
  • To improve commercial optimization (39%, ad targeting)
  • To help journalists find stories (35%)
In fact, according to the report "almost three-quarters (72 percent) [of news publishers] are planning to actively experiment with AI to support better content recommendations and to drive greater production efficiency (e.g. 'robo-journalism')." It is clear that AI is already beginning to impact how news is covered and how stories are selected, created and distributed. Technologies like smart bots and speech-to-text are being implemented across newsrooms, improving the productivity of journalists. Josh Sutton, Global Head, Data and Artificial Intelligence at Publicis Sapient, shared his observations of AI's impact on the news media - now and into the future. He believes that AI will:
  • Influence what reporters will cover and their editorial decision-making. Likewise, it will enable a broader analysis of how readers and viewers are responding to news and content, so assets can be more accurately reviewed and prioritized.
  • Compose articles that are adjusted on the fly for different readers based on their particular biases and personalities, so the voice of the article adjusts to best suit the person reading it.
  • Create more of a curated content experience. People see info curated and relevant to their personal taste. That will put the onus on the media world to produce a higher quality level of content to gain viewers seeking sources they can trust. One can see this shift in action with Vice, which is in the midst of shifting from immediacy to quality of reporting.
The main thing for those in the media industry to realize is that we're no longer aiming at mass distribution of content - it's the niche markets that matter today. Cultivating a highly loyal fan base is the ultimate priority, and AI's many applications makes it an essential tool for accomplishing that goal.

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Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, Inc. helps companies build reputations and differentiate in a competitive market through thought leadership, public education, issues management, content strategy, and strategic communications. To find out how ICCC can help you and your company build your reputation contact, call 212-399-0026 or visit