Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Social Impact - part of the PR Automation Series

It is time to put PR into the wider context of automation for the majority of the population.

 The Robots Are Coming by John Lanchester offers us considerable insights. It looks at the future in terms of economic activity.

 He reports on the methodologies now at play and instances Google Translate: Google Translate hasn’t got better because roomfuls of impecunious polymaths have been spending man-years copying out and cross-referencing vocabulary lists. Its improvement is a triumph of machine learning. The software matches texts in parallel languages so that its learning is a process of finding which text is statistically most likely to match the text in another language.

Translate has hoovered up gigantic quantities of parallel texts into its database. A very fertile source of these useful things, apparently, is the European Union’s set of official publications, which are translated into all Community languages. Progressively, Translate has improved.

It is still learning but learning very fast and across not one but many languages. Soon (weeks not years) it will be better than even the best humans.

 The new generation of robots are well beyond the rather comic attempts at computing and robotisation (and even word processing) of a decade ago. At the Amazon fulfilment centres’ where it makes up and dispatches its parcels, the robots are slow and marked out in orange. They can lift three thousand pounds at a time and carry an entire stack of shelves in one go. They manoeuvre around each other with surprising elegance. They are inexorable, and they aren’t going away: the labour being done by these robots is work that will never again be done by people.

 Rodney Brooks, who co-founded iRobot, noticed something else about such modern, highly automated factory floors: people are scarce, but they’re not absent. And a lot of the work they do is repetitive and mindless.

 Robert Gordon, an American economist in his paper ‘Is US Economic Growth Over?’ contrasted the impact of computing and information technology with the effect of the second industrial revolution, between 1875 and 1900 (with inventions such as electric lightbulbs and the electric power station, the internal combustion engine, the telephone, radio, recorded music and cinema). It also introduced ‘running water and indoor plumbing and women were freed from carrying tons of water each year’.

 Gordon’s view is that we coasted on the aftermaths of these inventions until about 1970, when the computer revolution allowed the economy to remain on our historic path of 2 per cent annual growth. Computers replaced human labour and thus contributed to productivity, but the bulk of these benefits came early in the Electronics Era.

 In the 1960s, mainframe computers churned out bank statements and telephone bills, reducing clerical labour. In the 1970s, memory typewriters replaced repetitive retyping by armies of legal clerks. In the 1980s, PCs with word processing were introduced, as were ATMs that replaced bank tellers and barcode scanning that replaced retail workers.

 These were real and important changes and got rid of a lot of drudgery. What happened subsequently, though, was a little different: The iPod replaced the CD Walkman; the smartphone replaced the ‘dumb’ cellphone with functions that in part replaced desktop and laptop computers, and the iPad provided further competition for the ‘traditional’ personal computers.

These innovations were enthusiastically adopted, but they provided new opportunities for consumption on the job and in leisure hours rather than a continuation of the historical tradition of replacing human labour with machines. In other words, most of the real productivity benefits of the computing revolution happened a few decades ago.

 The impact is already with us. ‘Our discovery of means of economising the use of labour outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labour’ (Keynes) is a form of progress that makes jobs go away through the sheer speed of its impact. As Lanchester puts it: ‘Just to be clear: the disappearance of work happens to individuals, not to entire economies. A job lost in one place is replaced by a new job, which may be somewhere else. In 1810, agriculture employed 90 per cent of the American workforce. A hundred years later, the figure was about 30 per cent (today it’s less than 2 per cent). That might sound like a recipe for chaotic disruption and endemic unemployment, but the US economy managed the transition fine, thanks in large part to the effect of the technologies mentioned by Robert Gordon (plus the railways).

So, by extension and analogy, maybe we don’t need to fear technological unemployment this time either. But maybe we do! A thorough, considered and disconcerting study of that possibility was undertaken by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, in ‘The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation?’

They came up with the likely impact of technological change on a range of 702 occupations, from podiatrists to tour guides, animal trainers to personal finance advisers, etc. It ranks them, from 1 (you’ll be fine) to 702 (best start re-writing the CV). The evolution is clear: human-to-human interaction and judgment is in demand, routine tasks are not.

Some of the judgments seem odd: is it really the case that choreographers come in at 13, ahead of physicians and surgeons at 15, and a long way ahead of, say, anthropologists and archaeologists at 39, not to mention writers at 123 and editors at 140? Frey and Osborne’s conclusion is stark. In the next two decades, 47 per cent of employment is ‘in the high-risk category’, meaning it is ‘potentially automatable’.

 Meantime productivity has gone up steadily (except for the 2008 recession year). The amount of work done per worker has gone up, but pay hasn’t. This means that the proceeds of increased profitability are accruing to capital rather than to labour. The culprit is not clear, but Brynjolfsson and McAfee argue, persuasively, that the force to blame is increased automation.


 For a complete​ article, please go to: http://www.blurb.co.uk/books/6396810-the-automation-of-public-relations

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

A development that could 'do' Public Relations automatically




Deep Mind is the 13th single by the Japanese band Buono and it is also the name of a Google subsidiary based in London using techniques from machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general‑purpose learning algorithms.

Two years ago, IBM demonstrated a computer chip that was inspired by the function, low power, and compact volume of the brain. These chips provide the building blocks for computers that can emulate and extend the brain’s ability to respond to biological sensors and analyse vast amounts of data from many sources at once.


However, these chips require a very different kind of programming model from the one used in computers today – which is still derived from FORTRAN, a programming language developed in the 1950s for ENIAC, the first electronic general-purpose computer - the software is on its way.

DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman gave a rare insight into the work he and his team are doing within Google during a machine learning conference in London in 2015. He leads research at the company.

Google DeepMind is an artificial intelligence division within Google that created after Google bought Oxford University spinout, DeepMind, in January 2014.

The division, which employs around 140 researchers at its lab in a new building at Kings Cross, London, is on a mission to solve general intelligence and make machines capable of learning things for themselves.

Suleyman explains:

'These are systems that learn automatically. They’re not pre-programmed, they’re not handcrafted features. We try to provide a large-a-set of raw information to our algorithms as possible so that the systems themselves can learn the very best representations to use those for action or classification or predictions.'


'The systems we design are inherently general. This means that the very same system should be able to operate across a wide range of tasks.'

 'AI has largely been about pre-programming tools for specific tasks: in these kinds of systems, the intelligence of the system lies mostly in the smart human who programmed all of the intelligence into the smart system and subsequently these are of course rigid and brittle and don’t really handle novelty very well or adapt to new settings and our fundamentally very limited as a result.'

'We characterise AGI as systems and tools that are flexible and adaptive and that learn.'

‘We use the reinforcement learning architecture that is largely a design approach to characterise the way we develop our systems. This begins with an agent which has a goal or policy that governs the way it interacts with some environment. This environment could be a small physics domain, it could be a trading environment, it could be a real world robotics environment or it could be an Atari environment.The agent says it wants to take actions in this environment and it gets feedback from the environment in the form of observations and it uses these observations to update its policy of behaviour or its model of the world.’

What he is explaining is common among humans. We are programmed to learn, and we focus our learning based on a reward system at our mother’s breast.

In PR, we did not really notice the application of Deep Mind. We are impressed with the capability of Google to find images from search instructions described in English in ‘Google Images’. It is just one example of the application of Deep Mind automation.

Automation is already at work in helping practitioners. What is not well established is the nature and benefit of these developments in day to day PR work.

Such developments have not been introduced especially for PR practice. It is right we know about such developments and use it, and it is important that the PR industry can recognise the real thing and the scams.

Also, there is a good case for the industry to seek out developments that will enhance practice (and increase productivity and competitive edge).

Furthermore, the PR industry also need to be driving and rewarding useful development to aid practitioners.


These considerations are important for the PR sector and if it were to take them further could be a significant exemplar for the UK government's initiative, the: ‘Digital Transformation Plan’, 2015. It is an initiative that will set out the actions the government will take to support the adoption of digital technologies across the UK economy including, one hopes, Public Relations.



Monday, August 03, 2015

Facebook and Twitter users across all demographics using the social networks as news sources


In July 2015 both the Pew Research Center and the Knight Foundation found that Facebook and Twitter users across all demographics were increasingly using the social networks as news sources. They are however seeking out different types of news content on each platform.

There are commercial drivers too. Jon Moeller, chief financial officer at Procter & Gamble, said at an investor conference in 2015: "In general, digital media delivers a higher return on investment than TV or print."

In 2015, the UK will become the first country in the world where half of all advertising spend goes on digital media.

Just over £16.2bn will be spent on all forms of advertising in the UK, including TV, newspapers, billboards, radio, online and on mobiles and tablets, according to eMarketer.

Digital advertising is expected to grow by 12% in 2015 to £8.1bn, making the UK the first country in which £1 in every £2 will go to digital media. The internet is expected to overtake TV to become the largest medium for advertising in 2016.
The reason advertising revenue has moved from traditional media to digital media is because it is effective. As for advertising, so too for all other forms of cultural influence.

The net effect, says Moeller, ‘has been to decrease the demand for low-skilled information workers while increasing the demand for highly skilled ones.’ As we shall discover in this book, much of what the PR industry thought was creative and skilled has already been usurped by technologies and only awaits mass implementation.

This trend in the labour markets has been documented in dozens of studies by economists: Author, Lawrence Katz, Alan Krueger, Frank Levy, Richard Murnane, and Daron Acemo─člu, Tim Bresnahan, Lorin Hitt, and others have documented it. Economists call it skill-biased technical change. By definition, it favors people with more education, training, or experience.

This puts pressure on PR now and it is evident there is a need to look to the future in some detail.


An example of the significance of the above trends would suggest that half of all the Press Relations practitioners in 2005 should now be fully trained and equipped digital media experts.

Another group of practitioners might be more active with mobile capabilities because eApp stores and tablets helped drive 157% year-on-year growth in 2011, according to an IAB/PricewaterhouseCoopers report.

Meanwhile, the nature of traditional channels is changing fast as well. There is a much wider range of communication platform.

A survey in the UK by Cision in 2014 showed 54% of journalists who responded couldn’t carry out their work without social media (up from 43% in 2013 and 28% in 2012). Fifty-eight percent also say social media has improved their productivity (up from 54% in 2013 and 39% in 2012).

If the survey is representative, this means a majority of UK journalists are open to a form of communication that is very different to the traditional press release. It is a change that took less than a decade to emerge.




Hi all. This is my most recent book It was written in the cloud and published likewise. The reason being is that it will shock a lot of people to discover so much of PR is already or nearly automated!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Marketing and the Media is Changing

A future in which you identify the nature of the sector (culture) and in which your client operates is changed.

The professional in this arena now has to:


  • Identify the sector (culture)
  • Identify the key descriptors (concepts) common to, and unique to the sector (culture)
  • Identity changes and the rate of change
  • Identify the media of most significance to the culture e.g. Newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, digitally enabled channels (from Netflix to Twitter).
  • Develop capability to affect the culture.
  • Deliver
  • Evaluate.
  • There is very little future for the practitioner who does not have such skills. The reason is simple. Traditional media has a problem.



The money that once drove most media is now shrinking. The effect of the traditional media as an advertising medium is flagging badly and even the journalists who once enjoyed the services of the PR industry has now turned to Twitter (among other media) to be able to perform well.

There is a lot of evidence.
The revenues of news channels is disappearing.

In the USA, Advertising Age said that measured-media spending fell by 1.8% over the year to June 2015.

In July 2015 both the Pew Research Center and the Knight Foundation found that Facebook and Twitter users across all demographics were increasingly using the social networks as news sources. They are however seeking out different types of news content on each platform.

There are commercial drivers too. Jon Moeller, chief financial officer at Procter & Gamble, said at an investor conference in 2015: "In general, digital media delivers a higher return on investment than TV or print."

In 2015, the UK will become the first country in the world where half of all advertising spend goes on digital media.


Just over £16.2bn will be spent on all forms of advertising in the UK, including TV, newspapers, billboards, radio, online and on mobiles and tablets, according to eMarketer.


Digital advertising is expected to grow by 12% in 2015 to £8.1bn, making the UK the first country in which £1 in every £2 will go to digital media. The internet is expected to overtake TV to become the largest medium for advertising in 2016.

To what extent is this reflected in the activities of the CIPR, PRCA and universities?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Definition of PR


A Definition of PR
 

It is pretty important that, as we examine PR and its automation, we should be talking about the same thing.

Lots of people try to define PR. In the digital environment, it is important to be precise and not to drift into other realms of management or to confine the practice to a future of obscurity.
 
The definition being used here recognises that:
 
Public Relations is:
 
The nature of knowing and understanding cultures, (namely “the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time”) in society;
 
The ethically sound ability to change cultures to the benefit of the client.
 
This is true in consumer PR, Industry and sector PR, Corporate Affairs and HR development and all other forms of PR. 
 
It is quite a broad definition, but it also has boundaries. Being bounded by the effects of culture is useful and prevents us being drawn into the debate about advertising or marketing in that if the activity is not to affect culture, it has no place in PR. Thus, hits on a website are not necessarily an indication of cultural change but events, actions or reactions driven by such hits are cultural effects and thereby are a PR issue.
 
It is much more extensive that the Grunig and Hunt (1984), definition:


“The management of communication between an organization and its publics.”

Or the description provided by search engines:

"public relations

noun

plural noun: public relations

the professional maintenance of a favourable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person.

The state of the relationship between a company or other organization or a famous person and the public.

"public relations is often looked down on by the media"

"companies justify the cost in terms of improved public relations"



There is a need to more precise because the range of influences on any individual through communication and other drivers is extensive (no wifi is an example where equanimity in message reception might be missing).



This means that, when working with the organisation or the client, PR has the reasonable authority to ask of the population affected by its presence. Then we can ask:


Do we understand the culture in which the organisation has presence and influence?
and Can we change it?