Despite all of their comms expertise, PR pros are still wet behind the ears when it comes to artificial intelligence, according to a survey from WE Communications and the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations.
Out of 400 senior communicators across agencies, brands and independent consultancies, only 23% said that their organizations are changing the way they work with AI tools. Meanwhile, 16% claimed to be “extremely knowledgeable” about applying AI to PR.
Communicators aren’t uninformed due to a lack of interest, however, as 80% of respondents said that AI is important to the future of PR. Instead, the industry is still figuring out how to incorporate AI tech and is leaving the experimentation to early adopters.
“We’re in the early throes of this,” said Gretchen Ramsey, EVP, content and digital experience at WE Communications. “There are people trying to figure it out by tinkering around and prototyping new ways of behaving with the tools. There are early adopters in every industry, including the communications industry.”
The survey is a first for WE Communications, but USC Annenberg previously broached AI in PR in a similar survey conducted back in 2019. Back then, only 4% of respondents claimed to be “very familiar with AI.”
Ramsey anticipates that number to continue growing as newbies experiment with generative AI and get better at feeding the tech prompts and experts spread their knowledge.
“If anyone should be leading and counseling on [AI], it’s communications professionals because of all of the ethical considerations involved,” Ramsey said. “These very large societal impacts that are coming about—we are the ones that typically lead that kind of conversation.”
On Wednesday, WE Communications and PRWeek will lead a webinar on the potential, possibilities and pitfalls of AI in PR.