Gartner released its predictions for the digital future at the end of 2015 and the most interesting prediction was that:  “By 2018, 20 percent of all ​​​content will be authored by machines.” This kicked-off the discussions last night with Michael Bowers, CIPR Marcomms committee member, using it to introduce the panel of thinkers; Paul Sutton, Stella Bayles and Neville Hobson and to start the ball-rolling regarding measurement in PR.

Paul Sutton led the way with a wonderful case study regarding his wife’s lost wedding ring (which is still missing in the Witney area…keep your eyes peeled). It pulled on the heartstrings, got great social impressions and strong print coverage, but as the ring wasn’t found, could it be considered a successful campaign? The numbers were there but the ROI wasn’t. He proposes we take a look at the ‘PESO’ theory, created by Spin Sucks. This states that PR campaigns should have a ‘Paid’ element, an ‘Earned’ element, a ‘Shared’ element and an ‘Owned’ element where possible, e.g. Facebook advertising, media relations, social sharing and own brand website content.

He was followed up by a strong presentation by Stella Bayles, author of ‘Public Relations’ Digital Resolutions’, who explained how to begin when it comes to winning at Google. This is a complex task and does take a bit of time but she really hit the nail on the head with the basics you need to create content that people love. If people love your content then their natural reaction is to share it, link to it, retweet it and like it. It’s this engagement that Google recognises and adores – your content is generating a lot of love, so in turn they love you too. She also brought to light the fascinating statistic that 80 percent of online spend goes to Google Advertising whereas only 20 percent of users actually click on them. Think about your habits, when did you last click on an Ad?

The evening was rounded off by Neville, a senior business consultant at IBM Social Consulting. He explained the history of automated content began in sports reporting. It went unnoticed for two years with everyone presuming it was natural writing. Computers are clever machines, and they’re getting smarter by the day. IBM has Watson, most famously known for beating human contestants on ‘Jeopardy!’, Apple has Siri, Windows has Cortana and Google has Google Now. We’re becoming more accustomed to interacting with computers in our daily lives, and they’re learning from our questions, reading our information and creating insights for what we may want to know next.

The CIPR evening left us with some great food for thought, and what to consider when going forward with client campaigns. How can we provide the most effective service that also gives them the bonus Google increase? It was also interesting to see that a lot of the points raised over the evening linked up with the messages provided at our exclusive client event ‘How to be heard in 2016’, earlier in the year about the importance of  using an integrated campaign.