Posts Taged technology

Can PR Be Automated?

Can PR Be Automated?

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
  • Negotiate
  • Squeeze into small spaces
Can PR be automated?

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.


This past weekend, I had the opportunity to check out ChickTech’s High School Science Fair, held at PSU. ChickTech is a very cool organization whose mission “is dedicated to retaining women in the technology workforce and increasing the number of women and girls pursuing technology-based careers.” The high schoolers participated in a weekend-long set of presentations and workshops, ultimately culminating in a science fair open to the public, where they could show off a technical project they built after the weekend’s explorations. There were custom apps, websites, games, robots, light-up fashions, hardware assemblies—it was all very impressive. And the girls were really excited.

ChickTech’s High School Science Fair at PSU

ChickTech’s High School Program

Learn more about the organization and the annual event at

As someone who works in front of a screen on a daily basis, I maintain a depressing level of discomfort with certain technology specifics. I work in programs that offer the ability to write robust custom code and yet I stick to the safe “design mode” of the software. Code is tedious and overwhelming. I’ve long made the excuse that “my brain just doesn’t work that way.” But I wonder if my brain WOULD work that way, if I just had a little more tech practice, encouragement, and confidence.

Clearly I am not alone; the statistics show an incredible gender gap in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Take a look at this infographic for a quick breakdown. There are a bazillion facts and figures around it, and hundreds of articles questioning what’s behind this divide. (Interestingly however, according to a recent Smithsonian Magazine article, the pay gap in these fields is not as great a factor as is generally perceived. Read it here.)


Regardless of the reasons women are not well represented in STEM fields (YET), I love that organizations like ChickTech are helping girls build confidence and excitement around technology. By providing an opportunity to explore technological concepts in a no-pressure environment, perhaps more girls will be inspired by what’s possible, and will get the boost of confidence they need to pursue those ideas independently or in their studies. Organizations are springing up across the country and holding events like ChickTech’s High School Science Fair, and even smart toy makers (Goldie Blox is a great example) are emerging to help provide young girls with play opportunities that don’t involve princesses or ponies.

Are you a woman in a technology or other STEM field? What inspired you to pursue it?