OK - let's start with a confession. I'm rehashing an old blog with this post. Not out of laziness, nor out of ego-stroking "told ya so" nonsense. Actually, out of frustration - nothing has changed since I wrote about it last time.
A year and a half ago, I wrote about how B2B PR was going to (gonna?) have to change to adapt to the arrival of machine learning, automation etc. Not because of the way in which day-to-day PR is going to evolve with automation tools, but because we are going to have to do something we are not used to. Be positive.
Most impactful campaigns in PR are intended to be doom-mongering, fear-inducing and even threatening. "Adapt or die" has become the mantra for so much of what we and our clients say.
But that is going to have to change with machine learning and automation. It has brought with it its own extreme FUD, which takes most PR campaign ideas out at the knees. Everyone already knows that the opportunity exists for efficiencies to be made, as better insight leads to better performance and to non-adopting competitors to be left far behind. And we all know that this leads to jobs, sought-after skills and economies changing - and that is scary. So where is left for a set of messages go?
As above, the automation conversation needs to move towards the positive. Not the usual 'business benefits' positive, but the societal positive. It is incumbent on anyone wanting to profit from touting machine learning to show exactly what opportunities exist for those whose jobs are being replaced or changed beyond recognition, and not rely on the vagueness of the usual "they can take up more strategic roles".
Machine learning and automation is one of the greatest shifts in enterprise technology - arguably more so than the arrival of the cloud. This brings with it a responsibility (trying desperately to avoid a Spiderman pun here...) to show the precise 'what next?' after the massive change arrives.
This discussion at Davos, reported in Forbes, shows that maybe - just maybe - the tide is turning. The PR problem that has plagued automation its whole life is being recognised. And it appears we B2B tech PR folk have a role in changing it.
For too long, B2B PR campaigns have been happy to incite fear and alarm, propose the antagonist as the solution and then run away to leave the call to action to speak for itself. Let's instead use this latest technology hype to start a new, more responsible trend - showing what happens next after our clients' transformative tech is deployed.