• Sudel Retief

The Move to a More Advanced World of Public Relations

By Charlie Love

Some people may not know anything when they hear the word Artificial Inelegance- It can be confusing as each individual may have their own perception of what they believe AI really is and what it means to them. For Public Relations Practitioners it means the future is closer than they may think.

Do you know the true meaning of AI?

When interviewing PR Professional Sudel Retief and Chief Product Officer at MyMedia she defined Artificial Intelligence as a software feature that enables a computer to make human-like decisions based on pre-programmed learning intelligence.

AI reaches far beyond just computers and far beyond just today’s technology. However, we see greater development of AI today with the availability of data and data volumes, where we are able to capture and add value and meaning to the data, which can then be adapted to AI to train machines to perform human tasks.

AI is all around us and people have the perception that AI is all new technology, however, we experience it every day from Chatbots, automated phone call responses, google home devices, self-driving cars like the google car and most of all Siri on our smart devices, who you may not know is constantly listening to you (SAS 2020). These functions are given human-like abilities and perform human-like tasks. Have you ever wondered why you are suddenly getting advertisements to come up about a conversation you just had or what was in your recent search history? Well, this is all AI - It collects information and data-based off your smart devices to then tailor your advertisements and promotions to best suit what you are looking for.

Sudel explains her experience within her career- She uses AI within the media monitoring industry. This allows them to scale the volume of content they consider for their clients. AI for them enables them to do mass sentiment ratings and relevance checks of media content. By using AI it gives them the opportunity to move towards a more seamless and advanced future for the company, allowing them to improve their workflows and quality of content.

Before you get too excited, it’s not robots that are going to take over the world of Public Relations.

Does this scare or excite you?

AI can be a scary thing for the future as unlike human ability AI is capable of deriving deeper meaning from the data, performing frequent, high volume tasks that are reliantly without fatigue (SAS 2020). AI can take on bigger and more data than ever before doing human jobs at a far more advanced level. What does this mean for people in jobs that require face to face interaction and emotion?

Now let’s apply this to the future of Public Relations- PR is all about relationship building and connecting with the public. Although AI can take over human capabilities - it can still be said that there is always going to be a desire for human emotion and empathy along with creativity to drive AI. AI is never going to be able to produce human emotions and feelings. Suel says that MyMedia still continues to use a balanced mix of humans and machine, unlike other companies that rely on AI alone. AI is an ongoing ever-developing technology tool, if we picture AI in the world of Public Relations this could mean aiding in having automated media releases that just need slight adjustments by PR professionals or computerized chatbots that uses AI to contact media outlets or have digital outlets such as automated social media post schedules.

Just Imagine how much time we could save! being able to analyze 2000 pieces of content in only 15 minutes! (Chen 2017).

Taking the role of a PR corporate communicator, AI can be adapted to take tasks that can be repeated to be automated to pull greater insights and solve greater problems. AI means PR professionals can focus more on a face to face contact, relationship building, and creativity leaving the AI to complete the mundane and time-consuming tasks like financial reports. What does the future of Public Relations look like - Faster free flow of information to the public in the most effective and efficient way especially in times of crisis? This is moving to a more fluent future of technology.

Sudel shared her perspective on how Public Relations companies relish the opportunity to monitor reactions and outcomes to campaigns, especially the sentiment of negative/positive commentary around an issue/campaign. As explained by her AI can help PR Professionals plan their media outreach calendars way in advance (Chen 2017).

Social media trends are a big part of Public relations as with all professionals- Social media trends and big data allow practitioners to identify current and relevant trends to produce content that customers want to see and generate conversations (Rodgers 2019). We are surrounded by the world of social media, being absorbed by the amount of content that is out there. Social media trends are hard to monitor and leads to the issue of fake news and privacy issue. Do you all know the privacy settings of your social media accounts? Usually, the answer is no, people these days don’t understand the significance of privacy settings. Facebook as a social media company has experienced scrutiny from exposing over 50 million user’s personal information resulting from a fault in their privacy systems, which leads to greater monitoring of its privacy settings (Isaac and Frenkel 2018).

How can PR adapt to this technology-based future? Looking forward, we need to be openminded and educate ourselves about the future of AI and how this will enable us to do things we could never do before. We need these driving forces within PR Professions to help move to a more technology-driven future, using this technology like social media and AI for the greater good. Sudel believes the way we can plan for the future is to educate as the lines are blurred between what is perceived as the only truth and that which has been curated (with the use of AI). It’s both exciting and daunting to see where Artificial Intelligence could potentially lead us in the future.

Reference List:

Chen, Yuyu. ‘’PR forms start using AI for mundane tasks.’’ DIGIDAY, September 20, 2017.

Isaac, Mike, and Sheera Frenkel. 2018. ‘’Facebook Security Breach Exposes Accounts of 50 Million Users.’’ The NewYork Times, September 28, 2018.

MyMedia. 2019. MyMedia.

Rodgers, Carly. ‘’HOW ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND BIG DATA WILL AFFECT THE FUTURE OF PR.’’ Institute of Public Relations, May 20, 2019.

SAS. 2020. ‘’Artificial Intelligence – What it is and why it matters.’’ SAS.

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