There’s no doubt 2017 has been the year artificial intelligence (AI) invaded the workplace – scaring some and motivating others. How much AI will impact the future of PR remains to be seen, but I do know that we’re already on the flip side of the AI coin: humanity and relationships.
As much as the media obsessed about AI trends (e.g., job automation and the importance of STEM skills), experts also agreed developing and honing softer skills is key to career success. Companies took note. While H&R Block announced it would use IBM Watson to identify tax deductions, Betterment, the largest robot-advisor firm in the world, announced it was hiring more humans to shell out investment advice because robots still can’t compete with human interaction.
Why relationships are critical to the future of PR
The good news for PR professionals is that we already have a leg up in this area. Empathy, communication and critical thinking have always been at the center of our profession. We’ve been honing our relationship-building skills for a long time and thanks to this, only 11 percent of our jobs can be performed by a robot. (What a relief!)
How PR professionals use soft skills every day
As many know, PR is so much more than media relations. Our jobs are rooted in strategy and counsel, and driven by relationships and connections (across all tactics: writing, social media, influencer marketing, and so much more). Here are a few ways relationships and soft skills trump algorithms in the future of PR.
- Media relations – In this crowded media landscape, the only thing that may make your email or phone call stand out in a sea of pitches is a personalized connection. If you’ve made a point to understand a journalist’s beat and provide them with credible sources time and time again, you may reap the rewards down the line. Similarly, robot calls won’t work for reporters. There’s a lot to be said for the art of an old-fashioned conversation. Remember: you (as a human) have a lot more to offer than an automated email blast campaign.Remember: you (as a human) have a lot more to offer than an automated email blast campaign.Click To Tweet
- Social media – There’s nothing worse than getting an automated response from an operator when all you want is to speak with a real person. The same idea applies to social media. When audiences see there’s a human on the other side of the Tweet, it establishes an empathetic connection. Buffer’s customer service does a nice job of this.
- Strategy – Humans have an innate ability for strategy that algorithms or AI simply cannot manufacture. We’re able to help clients reach their goals by executing tactics actually tied to their goals, ultimately helping to improve sales, thought leadership, etc. While the mission is the same, every plan is different, customized to each client. There’s no single formula or process; every client is unique and our human brains allow us to understand the differentiation and myriad intangibles that inform the best approach.
Yes, our lives – at home and at work – are increasingly tech-driven, and yes, more and more robots are taking on tasks that once belonged to us. But we must learn how crucial it is to hone empathy, critical thinking and interpersonal skills because these are the skills robots cannot master (at least not yet). They’re also what’s at the heart of the future of PR.