Will AI Replace Publicists? A Closer Look at What the Data Says

Nearly 3 years ago, I wrote an article for Forbes that predicted the future of PR and AI.

We’re still in agreement today that AI will make life easier for publicists. Machine learning will continue to help content creators and publicists develop content faster. But at the root of my Forbes article was a bold prediction that AI won’t replace publicists over the next 10 years.

Here’s why I still stand by that prediction three years after making it.

Not Enough Big Data for News Cycle

For 3+ years, MACIAS PR ran the media and PR campaigns for a very large AI health care company. If there’s one thing I learned from those founders is you need billions of data points for AI to learn, grow and predict over time. 

But more importantly, you need quality data. If the data is unreliable or incomplete, machine learning will continue to rely on false information for answers. And we know where that leads when a journalist writes a story with faulty information. Retractions are quickly issued.

PR is nowhere near gathering this kind of big data for the 24-hour news cycle. 

Yes, social media can predict which stories will gain momentum in their news feeds, but that is analyzing existing data. It’s not creating news angles from scratch.

Google and Yahoo News also have big data on news preferences tailored to behavior, but that is also filtering existing content based on individual habits. None of these approaches are create news campaigns from scratch.

Enterprise News Angles Drive Successful PR Campaigns 

Journalism coverage varies by the news outlet, and no organization wants to follow the leader. This is another reason why AI won’t work for PR. 

MSNBC, CNN and Fox News all have morning news meetings where story ideas are pitched and approved. Each of those news outlets has a different editorial slant based on the journalists inside their newsrooms. That is what I would describe as a micro-journalism viewpoint.

Even if machine learning is to acquire billions of new data points every 24 hours, it will continue to create stories from a macro-journalism viewpoint. When it comes to ratings, a macro approach is the fastest way to the bottom of the news rankings.

Best PR Campaigns Leverage Intuition

As the Executive Producer of Special Projects with NBC in New York, I had to identify and approve stories that I thought would drive viewers to watch us. Many of my decisions were based on intuition and instant analysis of the competition. 

I never wanted to pursue the same stories as our competitors. Under the premise of AI, news coverage would all pursue the same ideas. This is the opposite of quality citizen journalism.

I don’t see AI running PR campaigns over the next 10 years with the ability to conceptualize abstract ideas into a news story. As of today, I’m only 7 years away from that initial prediction.

If you’re looking for an enterprise campaign that generates targeted media exposure, feel free to reach out to us by clicking here. We can schedule a call, or you can always get a quick PR estimate by clicking here.


Marketing peers named MACIAS PR the 2017-2020 Strategic PR Firm of the Year. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, Finance Monthly named MACIAS PR the Financial PR Firm of the Year. The founder – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. City & State Magazine named him a PR Political Power Player in New York.