Stephen Hawking has warned that it ‘could be the worst invention of the history of our civilisation’ – no, not self-service supermarket checkouts, but Artificial Intelligence (AI). The term has entered the lexicon over the past few years, and has cropped up in numerous PR and marketing trends reports for 2018, but what I think many would find surprising is that it has crept into our daily lives at an alarming rate under the guise of convenience – from using Siri, to auto-tagging photos on Facebook and listening to your Daily Mix on Spotify. In the workplace, there has been a 14x increase in AI start-ups since 2000 and the share of jobs requiring AI skills has grown 4.5x since 2013 – but how does this affect us in PR, I hear you ask? Well, it already is replacing some of the low-skilled, repetitive (and character building, I’d say) tasks such as developing coverage reports, issuing press releases and creating media lists. So, is the humble PR professional on the brink of extinction? Absolutely not – and there are three key areas in PR where the human touch trumps technology every time: Relationships: people buy into people Keeping our clients and media contacts happy is the crux of the business – in taking that 7pm call, delivering media samples on a rainy Monday morning and karaokeing until the early hours, we build real bonds that can last an entire career. Creativity: finding the sweet spot While AI might be able to beat us at chess, finding the perfect balance between insight, strategy – and of course the killer creative idea – can only be done by us as we know and understand human nature and emotion, with all its quirks, better than any machine. Crisis: a helping hand in your moment of need AI has recently fallen foul of spouting Nazi sympathising views for Microsoft and running red lights for Uber’s driverless cars, so when an incident occurs who would you prefer to plan your first response? Your trusted agency partner, of course. AI is undoubtedly a fascinating, rapidly-developing sphere this is set to have a profound effect on our personal and professional lives – and I think it should be embraced by the PR world. AI will help to make our lives easier, and even provide deeper insights into reporting for our clients, but the human touch is what will continue to keep our clients happy and in the headlines for all the right reasons. Food for thought? Let us know what you think @RxTLondon.
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