Humanizing the Algorithm

Excerpted from “AI Killed the PR Star,” a panel at the 2018 PRSA Tri-State Conference by Katherine Olstein

We’re already swimming in tech and this is just the beginning! Artificial intelligence is about to take us into the deep end. Are fears surrounding AI justified? Our panelists explore how we as communications specialists will fit in.

From left, Moderator Keith Trivitt, AXIS Capital, VP, Corporate Communications; Estee Goldschmidt, Spotlyte, Venture Ops Manager (previously, ShopDrop CEO & Cofounder); Ethan McCarty, Integral Communications Group, CEO.

Not long ago it was enough to hire a PR agency to land articles for you.

“Now, they have to show up in the inboxes, newsfeeds and search engines of the people you’re looking for,” said Goldschmidt. “We landed an InStyle article … but most of you here don’t know that [publication].”

To reach the audiences you value and manage their experiences with your brand and with its products, AI and automation can be “a big superpower,” said McCarty, in the hope of heartening panelists an listeners alike, while also warning the alternative: AI and automation can be a huge threat to those who don’t add human value to their role as a communicator.

There’s a two-fold challenge / opportunity confronting non- or newly-technical PR practitioners:

1. Facing down problems with algorithmic neutrality

“We can impact AI as an industry if we rid our companies and society of ‘algorithmic bias.’” That is, not assuming the algorithm that rendered a particular solution is neutral, Keith Trivitt said.

2. Getting involved with the machine

“There needs to be a brain setting the algorithm.”

Helpful tools such as Chatbots, SocialChorus, TrendKite and others are within easy reach for evaluating
the point of view of the audience you’re crafting content for.

“If the algorithms you’re running are outputing data that don’t make sense, get a second opinion and redesign the model differently,” said Goldschmidt. “You’re the last line of defense. You need to be the human in the equation.”

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