Humans still needed: AI use in PR to treble in three years, report suggests

The number of PR skills currently being supported by artificial intelligence (AI) technology should increase threefold in the next five years, says a new report that also promises many skills should "remain the domain of humans".

The CIPR today released a "discussion paper" on AI's use in PR and comms by Jean Valin,  a Canadian public relations consultant and founding member and past chair of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management.

Valin looks at a simplified version of the Global Alliance's Global Body of Knowledge, which describes more than 50 skills and abilities needed to practise public relations.

He argues that currently, AI is used in a meaningful way to assist PR professionals with 12 per cent of those skills, mainly in areas such as forecasting, analysis and data management skills.

That figure is set to more than treble to 38 per cent within five years, the report predicts.

While legal, ethical, professional and personal skills are not likely to benefit from AI support in the coming years, the report says, others areas such as community identification, risk analysis and behavioural analysis will.

The report says: "AI can be incredibly useful, but if it is used without complementing human awareness, it can be detrimental. We need humans to think creatively and abstractly about problems to devise new and innovative strategies, test out different approaches and look to the future. Parts of what we do – or in some cases entire tasks – are or will be automated and will benefit from AI."

AI: competitive advantage

Stephen Waddington, Ketchum chief engagement officer and chair of the CIPR's artificial intelligence panel, said: "If you’re not already considering the impact of artificial intelligence on you and your team's strategy, now’s the time. Today’s research shows the extent to which AI will penetrate public relations. Those quick to adapt to the shift will gain competitive advantage.

"At Ketchum, network analysis and natural language processing is enabling us to help clients understand communities and identify areas of white space in conversations. The research shows that in five years’ time AI is likely to have a stronger grip on PR functions."

He also says of the report and the next steps: "The CIPR is publishing the paper with the intention of starting a debate on the issue. We’d welcome comments and challenges to the analysis. We'd also welcome approaches from any other organisations around the world that are working this area."


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