Bloomberg’s Editor in Chief issued an internal memo recently announcing that he was pulling a team together to explore how he could introduce more automation in writing. Staff must have been quaking in their boots wondering when their P45s will land on the hot desks and they have to pack their potted plant into a box and walk out. They’re looking at how algorithms can piece information together to create stories in seconds rather than hours. Just imagine that. Just when you thought we are already overloaded with information and news we are going to get even more, and a lot quicker to boot.
So where does that leave the PR industry? What’s going to happen to us? Are all those years of building relations with journalists, understanding their style, the angles they respond to, the kind of stories they look for and the client introductions we’ve made going to go down the tubes? Do we need to get our coats and leave? I don’t think so. Automated systems can only act on the information that’s out there, which will generally be news put out by large companies with huge outreach. Smaller companies and start-ups don’t have that kind of reach so how will automated systems pick up their news and stories? Will there be a portal that gathers news from smaller companies to feed into the system and if so how will that news be managed? How will the good stuff be sorted and plucked from the less interesting stories? There may come a day when stories and news items won’t need pitching out anymore because there’s no one left to pitch to. There may be a time when automated journalists trawl the web looking for stories at source. That just means that we as PR people will be just as busy creating those stories and news items that are interesting enough to alert the algorithm processes to be included in the automated journalist’s inbox. Sound familiar?