Look What You Made Me Do: AI and the PR industry

This was written wholly by Bard, on the basis of a request to “write me a blog about AI and the PR industry”. It’s not perfect. But it’s also not bad. And it came up with the title too, with a nudge towards “please use a Taylor Swift lyric”. Things are moving fast…

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly changing the way we live and work, and the PR industry is no exception. AI is being used to automate tasks, analyze data, and create content, all of which can help PR professionals be more efficient and effective.

One of the most significant ways that AI is impacting the PR industry is through the use of automation. AI-powered tools can automate tasks such as media monitoring, research, and outreach, freeing up PR professionals to focus on more strategic and creative work. This can lead to increased productivity and better results for clients.

AI is also being used to analyze data in new and innovative ways. PR professionals can now use AI to track social media sentiment, identify trends, and measure the effectiveness of PR campaigns. This data can be used to make better decisions about where to focus PR efforts and how to measure success.

Finally, AI is being used to create content. AI-powered tools can generate content that is both accurate and engaging. This can be a valuable asset for PR professionals who are looking to create high-quality content quickly and efficiently.

Overall, AI is having a major impact on the PR industry. By automating tasks, analyzing data, and creating content, AI is helping PR professionals be more efficient, effective, and creative.

Here are some specific examples of how AI is being used in the PR industry:

  • Media monitoring: AI-powered tools can monitor social media, news outlets, and other online sources for mentions of a client’s brand or product. This information can be used to identify trends, track the effectiveness of PR campaigns, and respond to negative mentions.
  • Research: AI can be used to research topics, identify key influencers, and gather data on target audiences. This information can be used to develop more effective PR strategies.
  • Outreach: AI-powered tools can automate the process of sending pitches to journalists and other influencers. This can help PR professionals reach a wider audience and get their clients’ stories in front of the right people.
  • Content creation: AI can be used to generate content such as blog posts, press releases, and social media posts. This can help PR professionals create high-quality content quickly and efficiently.

AI is a powerful tool that can be used to improve the PR industry. By automating tasks, analyzing data, and creating content, AI can help PR professionals be more efficient, effective, and creative.

We need to calm down: Why Labour’s ban on out of hours emails and phone calls should be just the start

When Angela Rayner was handed a new brief in 2021 as Shadow Secretary of State for the Future of Work it looked to many like a faddish attempt to placate her after a failed attempt to demote her in a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle. But two years on, amid on-going speculation about what careers will look like post-pandemic, her ideas could well form an intriguing element in Labour’s offer to the electorate in 2024.

Her latest proposal was unveiled last week, in the form of a ‘right to switch off’. This was borrowed from a French law passed in 2017 which tries to limit the ability of managers to contact staff outside their contracted hours. The aim is to re-establish boundaries between work and home life, improving the morale of workers and reducing the risk of burnout. Ms Rayner told the Financial Times that “constant emails and calls outside of work should not be the norm and is harming work-life balance for many”.

This is an obviously attractive idea for any of us who find ourselves responding to emails at 10 o’clock at night, or when we wake up at 6.30am. It will apparently form part of a ‘new deal for working people’ in the next Labour manifesto, tackling zero hours contracts and firing and rehiring, and other things that make life miserable at work.

This feels like an area to watch. If Labour bases their election messaging around asking people if they feel better or worse after 14 years of the Tories, being able to point to concrete proposals to improve the workplace could be genuinely potent. And it would provide a strong platform for Ms Rayner, arguably one of Labour’s most effective, authentic and occasionally erratic communicators.

And I am personally hoping that the right to switch off will extend to breaking the habit developed during the pandemic of putting regular meetings in the diary before the start of the working day. An 8am video call was fine when everyone was dialling in from home and saving on commuting time, but not now. Sometimes things happen and an out-of hours call is required (and as a consultant I am of course always available for clients), but for regular employees routine catch ups outside contracted hours amount to an annexation of their personal time. If Angela Rayner clamps down on this she will definitely have my vote.

Being a fearless leader: Why we need visionary leaders and why we’re not getting them

A couple of weeks ago the Economist printed an article about rates of absence from schools in the UK since the pandemic. It opened with a blizzard of depressing statistics: more than 20% of pupils are currently ‘persistently absent’ (not there more than 10% of the time); 140,000 kids enrolled in school are absent more than half the time; pupils who miss 15% of their lessons are half as likely to get five GCSEs; and almost 40% of the poorest pupils are absent more than 10% of the time.

This, then, is a huge problem that is storing up a sea of troubles for the future. It joins other difficulties that are known about but don’t dominate our national debates in the way they should, like the crisis in our courts, shortages of new recruits in the care system, our broken housing policy, and the fact that productivity in this country has stagnated for years. These are all difficult issues that defy quick fixes: they will require multi-year commitment for anything to change. And they join other complex challenges such as an ageing population, the impact of AI, and of course climate change in requiring deep thinking and a response that will only deliver outcomes over the course of decades.

Our politicians, though, seem utterly paralysed in the face of these developments. There is no credible response to any of these points. Lots of noise, posturing, criticism of the other side, yes, but no solutions. Parties seem determined to do the other side down, rather than showing the determination to develop a way forward and stick to it.

Some might say this is unfair. After all, the Government has published a multiplicity of papers on, say, climate change, and Labour has followed suit with its own Green Industrial Strategy. All of these express the right hopes and contain some good ideas, but they are simply not believable when they don’t address simple points: Where are we going to find the huge numbers of skilled people needed to do all the work? How will the grid cope with delivering all of the new connections needed to electrify the economy? When will we start to knock on the doors of homeowners and tell them they have to insulate better and stop using gas for heating?

How can we have confidence that the political classes have the stomach for the kind of long-term vision and leadership needed to deliver all this when we are still waiting for something that is relatively easy for the Government to deliver: a second big nuclear development and a plausible plan for rolling out SMRs? It is pure fantasy. We are kicking the can repeatedly down the road, and the same is happening in all of the other areas I’ve mentioned and many more besides.

Our politicians seem utterly incapable of making decisions unless they absolutely have to be made right this second. They seem to want to stagger through to the next election without rocking the boat. How else can you explain a Government with a huge majority that is doing little beyond dog-whistling to its base whilst repairing the damage done by the last two Prime Ministers? Or an Opposition that is 15 points ahead in the polls that refuses to say that they will deviate substantively from Conservative policies on tax and the economy, law and order, and almost every other area? Or a third party that won’t quite say that it wants us to rejoin the European Union? Where is the vision?

It wasn’t always like this. Whatever you might think of Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair they entered office with ideas of things they wanted to do that might not be popular, and would certainly not lead to a political bonanza within five years. But they did them anyway. Transforming industrial relations (for better or worse), changing the shape of the state, devolution, Britain’s place in the world: there was a vision of where they wanted to go, and the leadership to go there even when the journey was rough. Even a casual observer of British politics can see that seems highly unlikely to happen now.

Some people would argue that Brexit was an example of vision and leadership. That might actually have been true with different leaders, people who could set out how the UK might flourish outside the EU and develop realistic policies to get us there. Instead we got chancers who could have jumped either way on the subject in the first place, primarily used the issue to secure a majority in 2019, and then proved unable to govern anyway. Above all, they failed ever to agree what they wanted post-Brexit Britain to be. So no. This was not visionary nor was there any leadership.

So why is it that we are more in thrall to short-termism than ever? There are a million answers to this, with academics and pundits churning out more and more analyses and theses every year. I want to cite what was said in 2013 by a professor at the LSE in a blog that said that contemporary politics was “trapped” in a “short term cage”. It blamed hollowed out parties, policy convergence, and more pluralised and differentiated public attitudes that have weakened ties to former occupation or class-based parties. This has in turn fuelled strategies based on “celebrity leadership, a relentless marketing orientation, focus-group driven policy and above all devotion to winning each twenty-four hour news cycle”.

The result? “Policy convergence and the demise of party organisations have destroyed the infrastructures that once provided a platform for longer term policy debates. Political leaders must sometimes confront their publics – but mostly they need to work with the grain of public opinion. The infrastructure and the platforms once that linked party elites and their publics around an emerging agenda has progressively dissolved”. This analysis might be 10 years old, but it seems to me to be spot on. It’s not just that the politicians of today are unable to address bigger, longer-term, issues; there is just no motivation for them to do so.

So we are locked in that short-term cage. Breaking out seems impossible. The thing that will break the sequence is if all of us, as voters, demand more from our politicians. Because unless they think longer-term, and make superficially unpopular decisions, those kids currently out of school – along with tens of thousands of victims of crime, older people in care homes, anyone trying to buy a house, and ultimately the whole of the natural world – are going to continue to suffer. It’s down to us: we need to start valuing and then rewarding visionary leadership.