A USC 2019 Global Communications Report showed that 86% of PR professionals and students considered themselves “somewhat” or “not at all” knowledgeable on the application of artificial intelligence in communications. Yet a lot are already using the results of AI daily by viewing broadcast transcripts created using speech to text software and natural language processing used for sentiment analysis in media intelligence.
One thing is certain: technology, AI and big data analysis will play a critical role in delivering key insights and help brands and organisations to remain competitive in the years ahead.
Here are my predictions:
Approaches to identify and track relevant content using boolean strings or queries will become less relevant through the use of machine learning and training text classification engines. Especially so for organisations wanting to track generic brand names or ambiguous terms. Booleans are still useful, like searching for a specific phrase rather than a single word relating to the area of interest, but the benefits and ease of machine learning and text classification will see greater uptake of these new practices.
Machine learning is a win-win, the technology itself becomes smarter and can provide more relevant, timely and effective insights to comms professionals the more it’s used.
The new text classification engines also have a semantic understanding and can disambiguate the same word used in different contexts. In a world where Apple is different to apple, or when sick isn’t always bad and sweet isn’t just tasty, AI can apply logic to provide results that mean something to your organisation or brand and help cut through the noise instantly.
New text classification engines are easier to use, and simply involve training by example and showing the engine what a relevant piece of content looks like. Think of it like training the office dog.
We’ve seen technology like self-check-out machines reduce human-operated tasks, but we’ve also seen technology increase the number of jobs available in some sectors. There’s now more than 650,000 workers in fields related to AI across the information, communications and tech sector, and this is expected to increase to over 750,000 workers by 2023.
AI helps to organise information into more easily understood formats for communicators, within seconds of the content being published. Current systems traditionally wait until the end of the month, or quarter to give much needed analysis but AI gives communicators the ability to analyse big events in real time in order to make smarter and faster decisions.
The APAC Communications Report revealed PR and corporate communication professionals rated “coping with the digital evolution”, “dealing with the speed and volume of information”, and “using big data and algorithms for communication” in their top four issues between 2018 and 2020. Communicators able to understand and use AI will be sought out next year, and the years to come.
The next big thing in media intelligence is recommendation engines. Like Spotify or Netflix, AI will use recommendation to track what content resonates most strongly with communicators in order to deliver it straight to their inbox.
Like recommendation engines that learn what is important to consumers through behaviour patterns, communicators will have the ability to target messages more efficiently. This will help improve outcomes for both communicators wanting to push out a specific message, and audiences who are likely more interested and accepting of a specific message.
Recent events (I’m determined not to mention the C word) have proven how fast the media cycle can run, particularly thanks to social media. Tech that can learn quickly and provide smart results within seconds is what comms professionals need access to going forward, to better align with consumer needs and interests, stay ahead of their organisation’s issues and trends, and their competitors.
Into the future, AI will become predictive to support communication planning by forecasting outcomes around a business announcement or reputational crisis, based on the analysis of historical information.
Predictive technologies provide communication professionals with the essential data insights and the confidence to back their strategies. Combining AI and recommendations, predictive technology can allow comms professionals to be alerted to trending social activity relevant to an organisation or brand before a story breaks – giving them time to craft the right message. The technology can also be used by marketing and product teams to identify emerging trends and understand how trends are impacting their brands.
So what’s to come in ‘21? AI or no AI, after the year we’ve just had, your guess is as good as mine.