A few years ago, a friend and co-founder of a major retail startup asked me a question over dinner: Why can’t AI be used in PR?
He explained how AI was helping his startup sell products by predicting which products would be best sellers. If AI could help sell shoes and clothes, why couldn’t it work to sell news stories?
That conversation inspired a recent article I wrote for Forbes: Artificial Intelligence in PR: Is it Science Fiction. You can read that story here but if you’re short on time, here are the quick takeaways.
There’s not enough Big Data in PR to Use AI
You need billions of data points for AI to learn, grow and predict over time. But more importantly, you need quality data. If AI uses incomplete or unreliable data, it will never be able to learn and develop.
PR is nowhere near gathering this kind of big data for news coverage. But even if we did have big data on news generation, it wouldn’t have the critical thinking and creative mindset to create new enterprise stories from scratch. More important, this data would likely be outdated every 24 hours, meaning billions of new data points would need to be created from scratch every day.
Journalism is an Art – AI is Science
Micro journalism is one of the reasons why viewers can turn on the local news and see many stations starting with the same two or three news stories. But as the newscasts continue, that’s when micro journalism becomes more apparent.
News selection will begin to mimic its editors over time, and as editors change, so will the news selection. If AI pushed stories in the media, the ideas would all be the same since it’s trying to generate coverage that is most likely to be covered. If it’s that obvious, the story will already be in the news by the time AI suggested it.
Best PR Campaigns Leverage Critical Thinking and Creativity
AI doesn’t have the critical thinking or creativity to create enterprise news angles from scratch. And based on my experience inside the newsrooms, I don’t see that developing in my lifetime. Another reason why I don’t see AI running PR campaigns is that it is difficult to conceptualize abstract ideas into a news story. Even the most experienced publicists have difficulty consistently placing stories across different sectors and media outlets. This craft gets even harder once you start factoring in the different editorial anglings of the local, national and trade mediums.
So if you hear new buzz about AI entering PR, put up your critical thinking and ask the solid questions that machine learning has yet to think of.
About MACIAS PR
MACIAS PR was founded in 2009 by Mark Macias – a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. The top tech and healthcare PR firm uses strategies that stem from this background inside the media.