As politicians bicker about job growth and immigration, it’s become increasingly clear that the real threat to our current economic and social structure is automation and robotization. In the wake of this realization, workers around the world are asking the question: Will I be replaced by a machine?
Can PR Be Automated?
In PR, the answer is not immediately obvious. We’ve seen an increase in prospective clients in search of systematic PR results. They expect PR work and thought leadership messaging to produce immediate, specific results in the form of business leads, controlled media placements and calculable profits. Though these demands partially represent the public’s general confusion about the difference between PR and marketing, they also reflect the conviction that anything can be turned into data. The A.wordsmith team is confident in our ability to deliver on certain metrics and prepared to outline strategic goals for our clients. Nevertheless, much of our work remains subjective and qualitative.
That’s good news for the PR industry, which is at relatively low risk of being replaced by robots anytime soon. This is according to a team of researchers at Oxford University that analyzed the world labor market and determined how likely various fields and industries are to be replaced. They found that likelihood most highly correlated with the need for workers to
- Come up with clever solutions
- Personally help others
- Squeeze into small spaces
Some of the findings are fairly predictable — a preschool teacher, for example, is only 0.7% likely to be replaced by a robot, while telemarketers have 99% chance of being substituted. Public relations professionals have only a 17.5 percent chance of being replaced. Though we tend not to spend much time in crawl spaces, this scoring process does highlight some of the unique strengths of PR that often go unrecognized or misunderstood by our clients.
PR is all about relationships
It seems obvious, but our success is contingent on our ability to maintain positive relationships with clients, the media, the public and our peers. PR is a service industry, and we dedicate time to maintaining strong relationships with our clients, many of whom need education guidance in the communications process. No algorithm can substitute the value of strong personal media connections, nor can it replace a candid, personable connection with consumers and the general public. Finally, we’re all about enhancing your relationship with the public — that is, after all, our title.
Creativity is an integral part of our work
Skilled PR work requires mastery of creative thinking and expression. We’re trained as versatile writers, because if we can’t tell a message well, our outreach and content will fall flat. Campaigns require creative thinking. Sloppy pitches are a non-option, and thought leadership experts are also often responsible for crafting articles, blogs, POVs and white papers. We’re creating content, concepts and even art, and machines just aren’t there yet.
PR is guided by opinions, not facts
We’re managing images and reputations, which by definition can’t be calculated. When we do research, our best discoveries come from qualitative findings: surveys, focus groups and investigative research into industries and relationships are the most productive for our purposes. We’ll keep on top of clicks and views, but public opinion is determined by emotions and perceptions, and that’s hard to robotize.
All this said, we shouldn’t get smug. The technology we use today was unimaginable a decade ago — there’s no telling where we’ll be in another ten.