AI communications

AI Will Expose Bad Public Relations

Previously, I explored the impact of AI on PR functions – where our firm is excited and where we are proceeding with caution. Beyond its usefulness as a tool, a larger conversation is brewing within the PR and marketing world: some fearing it has the potential to kill (or significantly transform) our jobs and others believing that it can never live up to the hype. Likely the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

My hot take: AI has huge potential to increase our efficiency but will have minimal direct impact on effectiveness. At the same time, it will expose some of the bad approaches that have become engrained in certain sectors of our industry.

If you are inclined to take the archaic [shudder] ‘smile and dial’ approach, AI will completely replace you. If your agency believes in hiring herds of recent grads, who turnover every six months, and tasks them with aggressively pushing ‘news’ at reporters, then yes, these jobs will be replaced – not that most will notice since these thankless jobs turn over with the changing seasons.

AI can create a basic press list, but it can’t verify whether these reporters will actually care about a particular angle. It can shotgun your news to all of these ‘targets,’ but right now it can’t actually engage, provide additional context or brainstorm a story the reporter will find worthwhile.

If your agency is providing real counsel and strategic thinking, that’s irreplaceable. And, if they are building relationships and trust with their peers (yes, I said peers) in the media, that’s a skill that no technology can replace.

In my previous blog, I talked about areas where smart PR firms are building AI into their operational workflows. AI can have a profound effect on the efficiency of how PR operates – from jumpstarting planning and brainstorming to providing foundational capabilities critical to a program’s success. For many executives this may appear to be enough, and sadly this is likely a reflection on the agencies they’ve worked with. 

AI will shine a light on teams that cut corners or stop short of adding real value. But it will also help truly creative teams work faster and smarter, allowing us to focus on programs and results because the initial foundational work can be handled for us. Taking a first cut at a press release draft? I’m all for it. Compiling a press list? Yes please.

But I’d never trust AI to deliver the final product or take the next step of actually engaging a reporter or providing strategic counsel to an emerging technology company. Setting aside personal relationships and shared experience, there’s too much nuance and context built into these interactions. 

If your PR team is accustomed to letting their media tool pull the press list and then loading in a basic pitch to be blasted to all entries, they should be worried about the viability of their business model before they start to worry about AI.

Personally, I’m too excited about the possibilities AI is bringing to my industry to worry about its impact on my job.