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Artificial intelligence: How the technology is transforming PR

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IF you have not heard about ChatGPT, then you must be living under a rock.

The game-changing artificial intelligence (AI) technology has the potential to be a disruptor of industries, including the public relations (PR) profession. It is not a surprise that tech giant Microsoft is in talks to invest US$10 billion in OpenAI, the owner of ChatGPT.

 The question we ask is whether AI tools such as ChatGPT are an asset or a threat to the PR profession. We accept it is transforming the way PR professionals create, distribute and measure public relations content, streamlining processes and opening up new opportunities.

It is not as if we have not used AI tools before. The technology has been growing in influence and impact in the areas of media monitoring, analysing and reporting.

What is artificial intelligence? IBM says that it is a technology that leverages computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind. Specific applications of AI include expert systems, natural language processing (NLP), speech recognition and machine vision.

 By zeroing in on the application of AI by PR professionals, it gives them the ability to gain unprecedented insights into stakeholder sentiment and behaviour. Significantly, AI enables them to automate mundane tasks that used to take up valuable time and resources like research, outreach, and content creation.

For example, AI can scan hundreds of articles or conversations on social media channels within minutes and provide insightful data that helps professionals assess how the public perceives their organisation or products.

With the emergence of AI-powered PR solutions, organisations have been able to create smarter and more effective ways of reaching their audiences with an enhanced ability to identify and understand public sentiment about their brand or message.

According to experts, PR professionals can now analyse millions of data points about audiences’ preferences, enabling them to personalise messages for specific target audiences and engage with them on an individual level.

A consultant with a major communications firm says AI will equip organisations with greater precision when crafting messaging strategies and faster results when measuring performance — ultimately giving practitioners more opportunities for success. This includes having the ability to automate collecting information from news sources and social media, freeing up time for other activities.

Automation of these types of tasks enables public relations professionals to focus on more strategic work, such as identifying key trends or positioning the company in favourable light. It also allows them to respond to customer inquiries more quickly.

Target messaging has always presented challenges to professionals, given the overwhelming demographics one has to consider. AI allows PR practitioners to identify trends that can guide messaging strategies. By quickly recognising emerging trends before they become widely known, they can craft their message in such a way that it reaches the right audience at just the right time. This gives them an edge in capturing attention and increasing visibility among potential customers.

AI makes it possible to create targeted messages that address individual customer needs at scale; instead of broadcasting a single message across all platforms, marketers can craft tailored messages based on preferences identified by AI. This hyper-personalisation increases engagement levels significantly.

One of the most exciting areas where AI has impacted public relations is predictive analytics. Predictive analytics use past data to determine future trends that can help organisations better target their messages to different demographics or audiences.

AI systems are also used to analyse conversations from various sources, such as social media, websites, forums and even comment sections, in order to provide insights into what people are saying about the company or product being promoted. This allows companies to respond quickly and appropriately in a timely manner while engaging their audiences in real-time conversations.

AI technology is also transforming the way companies measure their PR campaigns. Using advanced data analysis techniques, businesses can now identify what types of messages or campaigns were most successful and how they drove positive changes in consumer behaviour.

This helps companies better optimise their PR efforts by understanding what messages are resonating with their audiences. AI is generating reports based on previous PR activities for future planning.

In measuring the effectiveness of PR campaigns, the technology can detect insights such as user sentiment and interest levels on different topics, which helps track progress over time and determine whether certain campaigns need tweaking or re-tooling. This ensures that organisations are always reaching their desired goals and maximising return on investment.

We can enhance PR automation platforms which enable users to reach out to relevant contacts based on their interests or preferences with AI technology. By taking advantage of automated tools such as these, PR professionals can increase the efficiency of their workflows.

The combination of automated tools and data-driven insights helps PR teams stay one step ahead in consumer sentiment and industry trends — helping them build relationships with customers in new and innovative ways.

Overall, artificial intelligence has had a growing impact on the public relations profession, allowing PR professionals to save time on mundane tasks and focus on higher-value activities.

Artificial intelligence is revolutionising the world of public relations and providing organisations with unprecedented opportunities for leveraging data for creating personalised campaigns that resonate with targeted audiences. The technology also does this by providing automation for repetitive tasks, better insights through advanced analytics, increased precision in campaign planning, and heightened customer engagement rates.

In order for public relations practitioners to remain competitive and achieve long-term success in today’s landscape, it is essential that they become familiar with these powerful tools. As more technologies continue to emerge and become integrated into PR practice, it is wise that professionals ride the AI revolution and not resist it.

About the writer: Lenox Mhlanga is a consultant communications specialist and thought leader with over 22 years of experience in the field. He has worked with The World Bank and blue chip companies, as well as civic institutions in Zimbabwe and the region. Contact him for counsel and training in public relations and corporate communications strategy on mobile: +263 772 400 656 and email: [email protected]

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