As the Press Association continues to trial machine-generated stories, there have been at least 20 UK newspapers that have published stories written by robots over the last year. However, it turns out that the stories are written by a human and software inserts data points to tailor them for local newspapers. So it’s more of a human-robot collaboration, with the human providing the creative input, wider perspective and ethical overview.
So if it’s already being adopted for the media, what are the prospects for robotic public relations?
Automating public relations
The obvious first step is to mirror this automated approach to journalism. Organisations reaching out to large audiences could segment by country, region or sector and create tailored content to create relevant localised content for press releases, web or direct mail. For example, you could write a piece of content about energy efficiency and quote figures from a dataset that lists energy consumption in different verticals and regions.
It shouldn’t be much of a stretch to use the mail merge tool to create fact-based stories or infographics.
However, automating PR content will rely on having a data source that is trustworthy and complete. In turn, we may see a rise in subscription services for datasets. Perhaps media databases will offer a full service where they merge the creative element written by a human with the data and then issue the resulting content to relevant publications.
Automating PR content will also call for public relations practitioners with the right skills and mindset to create semi-automated stories that are compelling.
They’ll also need to be confident with handling data and have eagle-eyed attention to detail for proofreading multiple versions of the same document to weed out versions if the data doesn’t support the story well. Especially as a Science PR agency, it is important to make sure that technical language is correct.