AIinPR 2019 = PR’s intelligent assistant

By Kerry Sheehan, Chart.PR, AIinPR Vice Chair,

Artificial Intelligence will further empower PRs, communicators and marketers during 2019, enabling us to work smarter faster.

AI really is an intelligent assistant to us and not a threat to jobs. However, we do need smart PRs to diversify and do good things with data, machine learning and AI tools – to remain relevant and, importantly, in the game.

Despite the hype about the rise in machines amongst the public, when you question PR and communications professionals, they think they will utilise some form of AI over the next few years.

The power of AI will augment how we reach our goals from data integration to real-time insights.

However, the rate of adoption of AI across the world is much faster than people expect.

As Seth Godin said: “If you waited until there is a case study in your industry, you have waited too long.” Further support for Godin’s sentiment and the #AIinPR’s recommendation that PRs diversify their skills for the AI world, is that when something becomes main stream, usually around 40 per cent of the industry has adopted it. As leading PRs and communicators, we need to be there before that 40 per cent.

Over the next 12 months, we will see AI-powered solutions continue to gain market share across all industries but this will enable our PR, communications and marketing teams to focus more on bottom line growth, the critical strategic and creative tasks.

AI will draw insights from text, voice and image analysis and help us to deliver insights on behavioural patterns and emotions of customers/consumers/stakeholders that have so far remained elusive to us.

We’ll also see greater value combining our business’/organisations’ structured and unstructured data, gleaning insights we’ve never had before to improve the creative, targeting and the value proposition. It’s never been more important to know your data.

Just like social media did years ago, AI is allowing the playing field to be flat, the smaller companies can compete with the bigger companies. This applies to PRs and communicators too, looking at adopting AI tools and processes, whether in our own work or recommending AI-powered products to our business/organisations.

However, this year it is really important for PRs and communicators/marketers to think about the best value and application of AI in our roles and the business needs of our organisations/clients – really starting to get into the nitty gritty of what is possible with AI rather than just jumping on the bandwagon.

We need to be assessing the problems and opportunities in the business/at clients and then identifying the decision making process that could be improved to help resolve those problems, driving those opportunities faster and smarter.

This will help determine what data insights are needed to inform decisions/products/solutions and how we can supply them, so we really highlight the value of AI being in an organisation’s ability to harness and operationalise the models and tools throughout the business.

2019 will be a key year for AI development and the adoption of it within the PR and communications sectors, in our own processes and insight but also in recommending AI-based products to our organisations and clients. The next five years are likely to change more than the last ten and AI will start to be embedded in business strategy in five to ten years.

As we move into 2019, we all really need to be preparing ourselves to be better at our roles, in the AI world, and, if nothing else this year – make sure you are at least starting somewhere with AI.

Areas AI will support PR and communications in 2019:

AI will help PRs to drive business growth

More and more repetitive or low value tasks will become increasingly automated by AI, making a difference to the bottom line.

The early adopters of AI will drive business growth faster than their competition, becoming more efficient through automation which will free them up to invest in other more impactful initiatives, using AI to out-perform competitors.

But you will still need a strategy for increasing ROI.

Know what data you have and get to know unstructured data

Around 90 per cent of the world’s data was created in the last year and this rate is set to double year on year (Moore’s Law).

AI makes sense of the vast amount of data which is unstructured. This is not data within spreadsheets or your CRM.

Unstructured data files often include text and multimedia content. Examples videos, photos, audio files, presentations, webpages and many other kinds of documents.

Most organisations/businesses are still piecing together data points from different platforms and many are still struggling to understand the full path to purchase/booking/stakeholders choosing you etc. Ultimately, which channels are driving revenue.

AI will increasingly help us to piece together the customer/stakeholder journey and identify what kinds of content can help persuade and retain them and at which stage of the journey.

It can even identify when a customer comes to a company website and when/why they leave without purchasing/signing up.

We will also be able to gain real life insights from data which tells organisations/businesses which audience they may want to ‘play with’ who may buy their products or services, or choose them as a service provider.

Understand mood of your audiences

It will become increasingly important to understand the mood of your audiences, even if you only have a small one/s.

If you can understand how many seconds it is before your audiences leave your website, say it’s 75 seconds – you might want to serve them a piece of content or a personalised promotion within 60 seconds, satisfying them quicker through understanding and anticipating their moods.

Most people are having their conversations on private messaging apps now, so to understand the moods people are in, we need to gain these from pictures and open platforms, such as Instagram.

Social sentiment

Some of the social listening tools we’ve been using for the last five years are not as effective as they used to be as the majority of people tend to use private messaging apps now, so we need improved tools – AI tools.

Spikes in images loaded, high or low ‘likes’ on social, and sentiment peaks across the data sources – voice, text or image – will all combine to improve our understanding of our audiences and help us make better informed decisions.

Competitive analysis

Competitor analysis will increase where AI ‘news explorer’ tools are adopted to scan for all the news articles , social media, keywords, across the world which mention your brand, organisation, service and then assess how they link together, with correlations. This would traditionally take us a long time manually. 

Conversational AI as learning potential

Through conversational AI, we now have an unprecedented ability to learn about our customers, prospects and users, and experiment with targeted messaging faster than ever before.

Truly savvy PRs, communicators and marketers will partner with their customer success, product management, and user experience peers to maximise the impact of conversational AI will have on the business.

AI enables this analysis to be done at scale and improve as it is exposed to more data.

Marketing intelligence replaces business intelligence  

AI-enabled marketing intelligence (MI) platforms have become the panacea for modern PRs and marketers. Rather than provide a historical snapshot of data, MI platforms provide data accuracy, flexibility, real-time insights and ability to scale.

We will see more PR and marketing departments integrating data sources from across various points, and it will continue to grow.

AI-powered data integration will become the norm for PRs looking to accurately track customer/stakeholder journeys.

Follow the #AIinPR conversation and visit www.cipr.co.uk/ai More details in the coming weeks on the #AIinPR work plan for 2019 and how it will help support you.

Photo by Katya Austin on Unsplash

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