There’s no denying there’s a lot of talk about artificial intelligence (AI). A simple Google search brings up 921 million results for the term. The buzz is out there.

For public relations professionals, though, the discussion is still young. Ask one if they’re using AI in their day-to-day activities and the response is probably no.

But what’s the truth? Are PR pros already leveraging AI in what we’re doing? And if so, how?

AI in PR Is in Its Early Stages

“AI is still in the early stages for our industry; but, already, it’s helping PR pros derive insights for more intelligent campaigns, targeting and reporting,” says Meredith Eaton, Director of North America for Red Lorry Yellow Lorry

What we do know, thanks to a study by Jean Valin on behalf of the CIPR, is that right now 12% of PR skills are being assisted or impacted by AI,” says Stephen Waddington, Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum

“We’re seeing a lot of the tools that PR pros rely on incorporate AI to help better mine keywords to find trends, determine who their primary influencers are around a certain topic, or identify a clients’ buyer personas for more targeted outreach,” says Eaton.

Let’s look at some specific areas where AI is already making a difference in PR.

AI in Crisis Management

With brands in crisis making the news on what seems like a daily basis, PR pros have had to step up their game to prepare in advance so they can try to mitigate the fallout of these missteps.

AI can help by analyzing social media posts to help brands manage their reputations, monitor brand sentiment, and assist them in managing a crisis, should one come about.

“New martech tools can spot patterns in social media posts and determine the underlying sentiment,” says Ethan Schrieberg, content specialist at VitalBriefing. “With this information, and with ample warning, marketers can preemptively prepare their crisis management response, swapping pre-scheduled social posts for more appropriate alternatives.”

“Though this new technology, marketers can be prepared to take steps to influence public opinion and, in some cases, prevent the crisis in the first place,” continued Schrieberg.

AI in Media Coverage

Will AI be leveraged by media outlets to help them get more news out faster? It already is, says Eaton.

“For any PR firms pitching or distributing earning reports, they may see an uptick in coverage,” Eaton said. “Publications like the AP are already using AI to pull published earning reports.”

She cites this article as an example. The disclaimer at the bottom says, ‘This story was generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research.’

“The AP has been doing this for a couple of years now, and even expanded to use AI for some sports coverage,” Eaton explained.

AI in Influencer Marketing and Media Outreach

Yes, incorporating AI into PR functions may be in its infancy, and while AI may not be able to do everything for public relations practitioners, it should be able to help you get to the answers faster, says Christopher Penn, Co-Founder and Chief Innovator, Trust Insights

“It should be able to tell you, for example, these are the 10 influencers your brand should be talking to,” Penn says. 

Another example is with media relations. “If you could find the reporters who are talking about a particular topic faster, you’d be able to hop on a trend story more quickly,” Penn explains.

The Future of AI in PR

So, what does the future hold for AI and PR?

“Eventually, AI may get so advanced in our industry that we’ll start receiving push notifications from virtual assistants,” Eaton says. “For instance, AI may nudge PR teams to reach out to a journalist who just covered a particular topic of interest, or remind pros that it’s time to pick up the phone to call a certain reporter who has historically been most responsive between the hours of 2:00-3:30.”

While that may seem far out, it may not take as long as you might imagine. In the meantime, what can PR pros do to get ready for the future?

“Get educated,” says Penn. “Get comfortable with the quantitative side of PR. Take a class.”

To learn how you can start using AI in your media monitoring, social listening, media outreach, influencer relationship-building, and competitive analytics, sign up for a quick tour of Meltwater’s latests tools for PR.