As PR pros, we know all about hype. Part of our job, in fact, is to create it. Sometimes, that makes us a little skeptical about tools and technologies that promise to be “the next big thing.”
Artificial Intelligence tools are a great example of this. In recent years, there have been countless claims that AI is poised to revolutionize marketing, but in truth we’ve seen little tangible impact on our day-to-day work. Some are even worried about the dark side of AI, and it’s potential to cause disruption and disaster in the PR industry.
That said, there are a number of AI tools that help the PR industry right now. Though the technology is still new, some of them offer real benefits. Let’s run through them.
1. Data-driven campaigns
One of the primary ways in which AI helps PR professionals is when it comes to designing and running marketing campaigns. The average PR campaign today—whether it is deployed through email, your website, or over social media—generates a mountain of data that would take a human a very long time to sift and find the golden nuggets of information.
This problem is only going to worsen as the average time spent on social media increases, because digital is increasingly becoming the standard way in which customers interact with your brand. This is where AIs come in. These tools can quickly process figurative mountains of data and suggest actionable insights within a much shorter period of time. One of these tools, for instance, is Atomic Reach, which audits all of your content, including blogs, ads, and emails, with the goal of improving quality and relevance.
2. Task automation
Software developers and data analysts love AI tools because they can be used to automate tasks that would otherwise eat up hours of the day. PR pros have been hesitant to put these tools to use this way, partially because we like to think of our job as a creative one: can a computer really produce great marketing copy?
Well, yes and no. In reality, even though our main task is to produce awe-inspiring content, we all spend a significant portion of the day on tasks that can easily be automated. Calendar scheduling, note taking, posting to social media, and sending out follow-up emails are just a few of these, and all can be made quicker and more efficient with AI tools.
And, if you really want to explore the state of the art when it comes to automation, take a look at Lumen5, which spits out an analysis of any blog post and creates a video companion of it within moments, complete with visuals, audio, and text.
3. Sentiment analysis
When it comes to assessing the way in which audiences react to content, many PR firms, sadly to say, are still in the dark ages. While you may receive a list of all of your organizations’ media mentions, without AI tools it is costly to analyze how many of these mentions are positive, and how many are, shall we say, not so much.
This is one area in which AI tools can have an immediate impact. By combing through local and international media, reading articles and comments, AI engines are able to instantly assess the sentiments being expressed in relation to your brand.
A great example of this is Netbase, a social listening tool that can be used to learn more about your audience, see what your competition is up to, and gauge sentiment about your brand.
4. Crisis management
An aspect of AI that is often overlooked is the positive role it plays in crisis management. This is because, as we’ve all seen during the recent Covid-19 pandemic, the ability to quickly react to your audiences’ needs is a crucial skill for marketers today.
Because AI tools are able to analyze incoming data much faster than their human colleagues, they greatly increase your ability to react effectively to rapid changes in your market—or even the global political situation. Among the best of these tools is MarketMuse, which offers competitive analysis, SEO, and content research that can show you where your message is being heard, and where it is not.
5. Influencer marketing
Influencer marketing has been one of the biggest success stories of recent years, but it has lagged behind when it comes to data. Every other form of digital marketing today is driven by detailed data, but in many cases assessing the true impact of influencers has been impossible.
That is changing thanks to marketing software companies like Agility PR Solutions, which uses dead simple interface options to put the power of AI to work sifting data in new and useful ways. For example, with a click of a button, the Agility software allows you to engage some pretty sophisticated data mining to narrow your influencer streams down to particular journalists who mention one of your keywords rather than having to skim the universe of mentions.
The bottom line
All of the tools we’ve mentioned above can be of great utility for PR professionals right now. While AI tools are not quite able (yet) to perform the more creative parts of our jobs, they can save any marketer a lot of time. And that, ultimately, allows you to focus on what matters most—producing great content, connecting with your audiences, and generating sales.