6 July 2023

AI: a threat or opportunity for creative industries?

Is AI the long, hard look in the mirror that the creative industry needs? Greg Wilson considers what we know so far about AI and its impact on public relations in particular.

The world is currently awash with articles about AI. The sad irony though, is that half of them could easily have been written by AI. But sadder still, is the fact that most of them probably weren’t.

Because if the creative industry is so worried about AI taking its jobs away, what does that really say about the state of the industry itself? The clue is in the name; the value that we provide, is that we are, well, creative. Or we are supposed to be.

Content v PR

I, for one, was so relieved when “the PR industry” rebranded itself back again to “the PR industry”, after having toyed around with the idea for a few years of being the “content” industry.

Is that, in fact, just window dressing though? Was calling ourselves the “content” industry the day the mask slipped? Or is that all we provide now? Content. Filling for digital gaps.

People fear that AI will see the rise of machines as masters and we as their subordinates. I say that day has already come. It was the same day the words “link strategy” and “citation” entered the industry vernacular. When you think about it, we have been writing content to please the machines for some time – all hailing the great God of Google and its whimsical ways.

It’s almost a bitter irony that the machines got so smart, they could see what we were up to.

Having been in PR for over 25 years, I’ve got to say, it’s not this side of the value chain that gets me out of bed in the morning. Some people love it, I know – their self-worth now inextricably linked to moving clients a couple of places up the search results, because machines approve of their content.

Humans v AI

But what about the humans? Aren’t we forgetting them? Do they count for nothing now? And are they so easily fooled – sorry, engaged? Inspired? Educated? Amused? Enlightened? Moved? Transfixed?

Is a human brain as easily pleased as a machine? (scroll, scroll, scroll) Okay maybe. But not for long. To properly win and maintain a human’s interest, you have to give them something more. Something they have never quite seen before. Something… oRiGinAL?.

(Do you remember when people did that for a bit on social to show they were saying something CRaZy? I reckon a human did it first. And it was quite funny the first time. And there’s the rub…)

The thing is – while it’s true that, one day, AI might come up with the next weepy John Lewis Christmas ad, I firmly believe it could never have come up with the first.

For older readers, would it have ever come up with the Milk Tray Man, to advertise chocolate? “If you see Sid…” for shares in a public company. “Accrington Stanley!” for milk? Yes, milk.

To take creativity to its ultimate degree, I believe that while AI may one day (maybe even now) be able to produce music that sounds like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony – it could never come up with Beethoven’s actual Fifth Symphony. Only Beethoven could do that.

Have I just compared Beethoven to the Milk Tray Man? Yes, I have. Would AI do that, if it was writing this article? Is it running the risk of sounding slightly smug and self-satisfied to say, probably not? Do I care?

A bit.

Because I truly care what you think of what I write. Because you’re a human and I’m a human and I hope to add a little value to your life, by writing something that might entertain you enough to read this far. In which case, I thank you.

Or as Bing’s AI Chat actually said…

What AI might mean for the public relations industry

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming various industries and sectors, including public relations (PR). AI is not something to be afraid of in PR, but rather a tool that can enhance the efficiency, creativity, and impact of PR professionals. Here are some of the ways that AI might change the PR game in the near future.

Data collection and analysis

AI can help PR agencies, especially when it comes to the enormous amount of data they must filter through. Because of the abundance of information available, it can be difficult for staff members to stay on top of the most recent trends and news, which makes it difficult for PR firms to stay competitive.

AI can help with data collection and analysis by automating tasks such as media monitoring, trend spotting, sentiment analysis, and audience segmentation. These tasks can help PR professionals understand the media landscape, identify opportunities and threats, measure the effectiveness of their campaigns, and tailor their messages to different groups of stakeholders.

Content creation and distribution

AI can also assist with content creation and distribution by generating text, images, videos, or audio based on natural language processing (NLP) and computer vision. These technologies can help PR professionals create engaging and personalized content for various platforms and channels, such as social media, blogs, podcasts, or newsletters.

AI can also help with content distribution by optimising the timing, frequency, and format of the content based on the preferences and behaviours of the target audience. AI can also help with content amplification by identifying and reaching out to relevant influencers, journalists, or bloggers who can help spread the word about a brand or a campaign.

Relationship building and management

AI can also enhance relationship building and management by providing insights into the emotions, motivations, and needs of the target audience. AI can help PR professionals craft messages that appeal to the emotions of their stakeholders, such as trust, empathy, or excitement.

AI can also help with relationship management by providing feedback and recommendations on how to improve communication and engagement with different groups of stakeholders. AI can also help with crisis management by detecting potential issues or risks before they escalate and providing guidance on how to respond effectively.

Skills development and ethics

AI can also impact the skills development and ethics of PR professionals. AI can help PR professionals upskill by providing them with resources and training on how to use AI tools and technologies effectively. AI can also help PR professionals develop their critical thinking, creativity, and emotional intelligence skills, which are essential for human communication.

However, AI also poses ethical challenges for PR professionals, such as data privacy, transparency, accountability, and bias. PR professionals need to be aware of these challenges and adhere to ethical principles and standards when using AI in their work. PR professionals also need to be able to explain how AI works and what its limitations are to their clients and stakeholders.

Final thoughts…

AI is changing the PR industry in various ways, from data collection and analysis to content creation and distribution to relationship building and management. AI can offer many benefits for PR professionals, such as increased efficiency, creativity, and impact. However, AI also requires PR professionals to adapt their skills and ethics to the new realities of communication. AI is not a threat to PR professionals but rather an opportunity to enhance their work.

© Bing

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