DUBAI: APCO Worldwide is launching an artificial intelligence department based in Dubai, and has named Imad Lahad to head it.
The new department, called the AI Comms Lab, will apply AI to content optimization, storytelling, advertising, voice services, social media, and other APCO offerings. Lahad will continue in his current role as senior director and co-lead of APCO's digital practice.
Rather than positioning the lab as a separate offering or service, the firm said it will be used to build AI into its daily operations.
APCO media manager Anthony DeAngelo said the lab will initially employ six people in Dubai, two in Seattle, and one or two in Washington, DC.
"First we will be working on a couple of internal projects to upgrade our offering and bring AI into the way we collaborate internally and upgrade our client offering," Lahad said. "As for clients, we will identify communications challenges faced by our key clients and find relevant and disruptive AI solutions to help them tackle it in a creative way."
Lahad has experience in digital world, especially in the Middle East and North Africa region. Prior to his current role at APCO, he was the firm’s director of digital strategy for the Arab region, according to Lahad’s LinkedIn profile.
Before joining APCO in 2013, he was head of digital marketing, communications, and social media for the Arabic digital publishing platform 7awi.
Lahad said AI robots won’t be offering advice to APCO’s clients any time soon. But it could help the firm identify issues for its clients.
"The use of AI and the latest tools upgrades our offering and allows us to better identify potential risks, the main stakeholders, and the sentiment around a certain issue or challenge our clients face," Lahad said.
He added that, the more AI learns, the more sophisticated it becomes.
"It enables us to assess, validate, and quickly and efficiently act to help our clients better manage fluid situations and help protect their reputations," said Lahad.
APCO is the 19th largest PR firm globally by revenue according to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report 2018. The firm’s revenue was $128.2 million last year, 6% more than in 2016 when its revenue was $120.6 million.