The public relations (PR) and communications industry loves disruption.
Disruption signals radical change. It makes way for innovation and new ways of thought and communication. In short, it’s everything that makes PR and communications come alive. Naturally then, the newest disruptor on the horizon – artificial Intelligence (AI) – has the PR and communications world abuzz with equal measures excitement and apprehension.
Generative AI seems to have emerged as a groundbreaking tool in the PR and communication ecosystem. In a field, where creativity rules the roost, the collaborative possibilities between human imagination and AI ingenuity – to create client delight – are endless.
To begin with, the entire PR fraternity is excited about how AI technologies can bring automation and efficiency to routine tasks like content creation, data analysis, and social media scheduling.
This could save significant time and effort for PR teams, allowing them to focus on aspects like strategy and revenue growth. At the same time, the deep learning algorithms that help AI learn from existing content and mimic style, tone and vocabulary can help PR and communications advisors deliver a consistent brand voice as they conceptualise campaigns.
Also, PR professionals can harness the power of AI-generated insights to inform decision-making and enhance their work, resulting in better outcomes and increased value for clients.
This means that AI tools have the potential to enhance the capabilities of professionals and become their strongest partner in the creative journey.
Easy does It
However, like any new, shiny tech toy, there are pitfalls to be wary of while using AI as well.
WE recently released new research on AI, in partnership with North America-based USC Annenberg’s Centre for Public Relations, that surveyed communications leaders across the U.S. on their response to AI. The survey results showed a mix of fear and fascination among the leaders.
Some of the major reservations of the respondents about the adoption of AI tools in the PR discipline included factual errors and misinformation (61%), fake information/disinformation (58%), data privacy (45%), information security (44%) and unknown/potential legal ramifications (43%).
Generative AI does raise ethical concerns regarding content ownership, plagiarism, and the potential for spreading misinformation. AI-generated content might inadvertently include biased or false information, damaging the reputation and credibility of a brand. PR professionals must have checks in place to verify content accuracy and integrity.
PR and communications professionals adopting AI tools for work also need to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect sensitive information, such as customer data, intellectual property, and proprietary strategies.
The last of us?
Another concern around the integration of generative AI in PR and communications is the potential impact on employment opportunities.
Will AI make the human workforce redundant? That’s a tad fatalistic.
Human creativity, critical thinking, and relationship building are at the heart of PR and communications.
AI may excel at generating text, but it can’t understand complex emotions, cultural nuances, and the fine art of storytelling. While ChatGPT can write a great story, only a PR professional would know how to find one that strikes the right chord with the audience. Think of any great PR campaign – emotion is key.
Moreover, building and nurturing relationships with stakeholders, including media, influencers, clients, and the public, is a fundamental aspect of PR and communications. This calls for understanding individual needs and preferences and navigating sensitive situations – human-centric skills that cannot be replaced by AI.
Therefore, instead of replacing jobs, AI is likely to reshape roles and require professionals to hone certain strengths and build new ones to increase AI readiness and unlock AI’s potential as a partner and collaborator. Some of the top skills for that could be essential for an AI-powered future would be analytical judgment, emotional intelligence, bias detection and handling, AI delegation (prompts) and training, integrating, implementing and managing AI systems.
The journey of AI adoption in PR and communications has just begun and it promises to be an exciting ride.
But it is critical for agencies to prioritize security considerations and implement appropriate safeguards while using AI to maintain confidentiality and integrity. That done, the key lies in finding the right balance between utilising AI’s capabilities and harnessing human creativity. Once that balance is struck, AI-human partnership can reshape the existing landscape and usher in a new era of PR and communication excellence.
Nitin Mantri is Group CEO of Avian WE and regional executive managing director, WE Communications APAC.