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Will AI replace PR people in the next 10 years? Answers from 13 PR software executives

Will AI replace PR people in the next 10 years? Most PR software executives indicate artificial intelligence (AI) will enhance PR pros work and can’t replace imagination and a human touch; yet some point out tech innovation invariably does eliminate some jobs.

Most PR software executives indicate artificial intelligence (AI) will enhance PR pros work and can’t replace imagination and human touch; yet some point out tech innovation invariably does eliminate some jobs.

Many of the conversations about AI tend to fall in opposite ends of the spectrum.

On one hand, some believe AI will have devastating consequences on the future of knowledge workers: we will all soon be replaced. And on the other are the enthusiasts who promise AI will usher in an era of utopia. These are extreme opposites and there’s a lot of room for reason in between.

To help make sense of it all, a while back I queried several executives from PR software companies. All of these companies are using AI in some way, shape or form – and have been long before ChatGPT rang a collective alarm clock.

The question posed was this:

 Do you think AI will replace PR people (or any knowledge worker) in the next 10 years?

Below are their answers to 13 PR software executives to that questions.

1. Mostly augmentation, but some replacements

“It’s inevitable and normal that with the advancement of technology, certain jobs no longer exist and new jobs are created – look at how modern media monitoring tools have replaced the need for the news clippings teams of yesterday for example.

In turn, the demand for content creators has increased, arguably driven by better awareness of the need to be communicating relevant messages all of the time. The advancement of AI, like technology before it, will cause similar disruption and change. However, ultimately, we believe that AI is about augmenting human intelligence not replacing or automating it.

In the long run we see AI technology in PR and beyond as technology that will augment and enhance the decision-making process of PR people and other knowledge workers. We see AI as being critical to bringing deeper insights to PR professionals allowing them to answer more complex questions and bring more strategic value to the table than ever before.”

~ David Benigson, CEO, Signal AI

2. Can’t automate authenticity

“AI will change the workload for PR practitioners and allow them to focus their efforts towards relationship building and more strategic, engaging and creative work. It’s unlikely that PR professionals will be replaced by AI in the next decade. While AI has the potential to automate routine tasks, it is not yet advanced enough to replace the creativity, strategic thinking, and human interaction that are key to successful PR campaigns.

Additionally, PR professionals play a crucial role in building and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders, such as journalists, influencers, and customers. This will continue to require strong communication skills, empathy, and an understanding of human psychology, which AI isn’t yet able to replicate.

Large language models like GPT are a powerful technology and will become a useful tool in the arsenal of PR practitioners, however they still require human intervention, monitoring, and editing to produce optimal results. AI-generated content has limitations and is often of lower quality compared to content created by humans.

In a post-GPT world telling authentic stories will be critical. To stand out, PR practitioners must humanize their brands and show them as being genuine and authentic. This will mean incorporating emotion and personal stories and first-hand experience in content, to connect with audiences on a deeper level.”

~ John Croll, Co-founder and CEO, Truescope

3. A standing need for human judgment

“In the near-term future, AI technology will not be able to replace the need for human judgment, intelligence and experience. At some point soon, the audience will look at a piece of relatively low-quality content and state in a derogatory way, “that seems AI-generated”.  However, the continued use and adoption of AI and generative technologies will raise the bar for content creators and PR pros. As more professionals adopt AI technologies, the expectations for top quality content will only increase.”

~ Jeff Stacey, vice president, Product Management, Notified

4. Enhancing human intelligence

“I think that’s only a risk if we don’t continue to invest in the development of our less experienced colleagues. Right now, experienced communications leaders are able to judge the quality of the output of generative AI because we’ve all faced the ‘blank page’ challenge many times. That’s where our creative sparks have been honed.

However, if we let future generations of communicators rely solely on generative AI to get them started, within 10 years we will all certainly be much worse at judging its outputs as our human creativity will have diminished.

When employed correctly, AI should enhance human intelligence, not replace it.”

~ Putney Cloos, CMO, Cision

5. This remains to be seen

“Whether that results in a global boom in productivity or a global shrinking of the labor force is something that everyone will be watching.”

~ Dave Seltzer, CTO, TVEyes

6. Won’t replace understanding of cultural and social issues

“Ten years is a long time! AI will surely benefit PR pros by turning over some day-to-day tasks including acting as a framework to content writing and creation. However, AI will never replace every PR or communications professional. Much of PR is acting as a consultant for strategic planning and crisis management (among others) which requires human understanding of cultural and social issues, critical thinking, and years of expertise.”

~ Tressa Robbins, vice president of Client Onboarding, Burrelles

7. Can’t replace building connections

“AI is and will continue to be great for many industries, but I don’t believe it can ever fully replace a PR pro’s role. Much like other new technologies, AI will make PR professionals more efficient, allowing them to focus on what they do best: building connections with journalists, telling stories, and building communication strategies with the executive team.”

~ Greg Galant, CEO,  Muck Rack

8. Not a substitute for our humanity

We do not see AI as a replacement for PR pros or other knowledge workers. AI can help make professionals more efficient, but it cannot be a pure substitute for what these experts bring to the table in terms of insights, knowledge, creativity, and humanity. Especially in an industry like PR, built on reputation and relationships, we believe humans can’t be absent. While AI can be a game-changing first touch, we still believe that humans should always be the final touch.

~ Martin Lyster, CEO, Agility PR Solutions and Diane Vuignier vice president, Product Development, Agility PR Solutions

9. Efficiency and efficacy

At Prowly, we don’t think that AI will be able to replace PR Pros but we do believe that PR Pros with AI at their disposal will be empowered to work more efficiently, effectively, and strategically. It should allow them to save time and focus on the things that matter and need that human touch and experience.”

~ Marta Adaśko, brand manager, Prowly

10. Competitive advantage for those that adapt AI

“AI will not replace PR people, but PR people who embrace AI will have a competitive advantage relative to their peers.”

~ Dan Beltramo, President & Chief Innovation Officer, Onclusive

11. Liberation from menial PR tasks

The primary benefits of AI to PR people is the ability to free PR pros from devoting so much effort to menial, laborious tasks such as building media lists and much more. When it comes to pitch and press release writing, AI will prove to be a useful tool in breaking writer’s block and being a valuable resource to comms pros for first draft creation.

~ Zach Cutler, co-founder, chairman and CEO, Propel

12. Greater use of AI will make human curation more impactful

“No. In the PR space, AI is here to help, not replace. Relationship building, coaching, crisis response… These are all things that AI won’t be able to fully replace in 10 years. We also believe that the more we see generative AI being used in business, the more unique and impactful (good) human curated content will become.”

~ Johnny Vance, Global VP of Partnerships,  Meltwater

13. Putting it succinctly

“NO. Never.”

~ Aaron Kwittken, founder and CEO, PRophet

* * *

Your turn. What do you think? Let me know in the comments or hit me on the socials.

Do you need help with B2B tech marketing and PR? I’m a seasoned consultant that can both bring big ideas and execute them; I’d be glad to speak with you about your needs. Here are some useful links: aboutservices and contact. Or just reply to this message if you are a subscriber and received this post by email.

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Image credit: DALL-E “a business man in a suit, half the body and face is human and the other half is robot in the style of van Ghoh

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