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AI Won’t Take Over Corporate Communications, But It Can Help

A workplace revolution is underway across most industries, and robots and artificial intelligence (AI) are at the center of it. Machine learning and automation are becoming deeply integrated across all aspects of the way we live and work. As the promise of AI threatens to replace human drivers, factory workers and cashiers, which industry is next?

There’s been discussion of corporate communications being replaced by automation and robot writers once and for all. I say, no way. Compelling, effective public relations is not possible without emotional intelligence and human trust. Here are four reasons why human communications professionals won’t be replaced by AI anytime soon.

At its core, content is about human relationships.

The best marketing creates and builds relationships between brands, consumers, customers and journalists based on trust and respect. This is increasingly important as journalists and consumers are inundated with information and overloaded with posts and messages on social media. Reporters need sources to deliver truthful, compelling and relevant stories. In a time of skepticism for news, we need to do more to drive trust and empower journalists to work with real, true sources — not AI technologies or robots that can be programmed to manipulate. Emotional intelligence is at the core of strong relationships.

Understanding reporters requires human intelligence.

Reporters and editors are being asked to take on expanded roles and write a greater number of stories in the 24-hour news cycle. They have no time to waste and communications strategies must adapt to meet their needs.

For those on the front lines of companies, the issues we encounter every day are different and require varying approaches. Real relationships with reporters are critical in verifying the truth and getting attention. Companies need to understand what journalists care about, what their readers want and what is new and different.

Indeed, robots could — and technologies exist that do — analyze what a reporter covers to capture key phrases and generate an email. Reporters can see through this and it often creates more noise than value. Developing a unique angle, tying your company news to a bigger industry trend or sharing an unusual statistic requires creativity, context and human intuition. This deeper understanding goes beyond commands and keywords.

Creativity is best done by humans.

Last year, Google financed a new project in Europe called Radar, aimed at automating news writing. There are existing technologies that automate press release writing as well, and that’s a good thing because they are becoming less important. In fact, having a robot create press releases would free more time for humans to develop creative and impactful stories.

The best marketing elicits impact, humor, attention and value. Sweden listed its entire country on Airbnb as a tourism stunt last year. A few years ago, millions of people poured buckets of ice on themselves to raise money for ALS. Robots won’t be pulling off this level of creativity anytime soon and here’s why: In order to make humans care about something, you have to understand the human psyche.

AI can make communications better with humans.

Brands and marketing professionals need not fear automation and AI because these technologies are proving to play important, helpful roles. Numerous tools are available that allow us to connect with audiences. Tools like BuzzSumo, Zignal and TrendKitecreate valuable insights and can measure reach and impact of company messages and direction for future engagements. Hashtag and keyword tracking programs like Keyhole enable monitoring for trends, brands and competitors in real time, so companies can communicate quickly and efficiently. Conversational language companies like Narrative Science use analytics to create data-driven stories about a company or industry. Using AI and automation tools can replace mundane and time-consuming tasks that provide more time to focus on creative and contextualized story angles.

Humans are essential for telling creative stories, developing buzzworthy ideas and communicating effectively. AI and automation play an important role, but those technologies have their limits. At the core, marketing and communications develop important relationships that cannot be replaced or mimicked by technology.