Nov 2023

Competing with AI? Why it’s not as bad as you think

Written by Carl Escoffier

Competing with AI? Why it’s not as bad as you think

The recent Artificial Intelligence Safety Summit in the UK sparked plenty of debate around the promise and perils of Frontier AI.

While it holds the potential to accelerate scientific breakthroughs and business innovations, concerns remain about its misuse in warfare or its impact on human jobs. As PR professionals, how should we view this technology – as a friend or foe? 

There’s no denying AI already aids many facets of public relations. Content creation, sentiment analysis, predictive analytics – AI lends us in PR an extra hand. But moving forward, will we be in direct competition with AI systems? Can they brainstorm creative campaigns as we do, plan strategically, and even have better relationships with our clients? The fear is that skills we once thought were our exclusive domain, AI could replicate.

This doesn’t mean the end of human PR. More so, we must clearly define our differentiating strengths over AI. What can we offer that intelligent algorithms cannot? Intuition, empathy and personality – these remain distinctly PR-human traits. While AI exceeds us in statistical analysis, we connect ideas in flexible, novel ways that no machine can match. And relationships – a core of PR – depend on emotional bonds only people can form.

Our work also goes beyond simple tasks. In high-stress situations like major launches, rebrands or in crisis comms mode, we make judgement calls in ambiguous situations – understanding nuance and interpreting social contexts where hard data falls short. And we account for ethics, grounding decisions in human values. Such higher-order thinking arises from our lived experiences – something no AI possesses despite ingesting endless data points.

In fact, AI can only function well with human guidance. We carefully craft the algorithms, data sets and performance measures underlying systems – requiring ingenuity that only humans have. So while AI is helping to handle an increasing workload, our PR skills are very much still uniquely human.

The future, which PR firms should start to chase, is an augmented flack – human creativity aided by AI efficiency, helping us with reports and spreadsheets so we can focus on deeper relationship building, strategising and campaign design

We remain irreplaceable by playing to our strengths – creativity, ethics, strategy, and relationships – while leveraging AI’s benefits. The rise of AI doesn’t diminish the PR profession in the same way it doesn’t for journalism – if anything, uniquely human skills become more obvious than ever before.

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