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AI for PR: A 5-Point Plan to Navigate the Hype

Author Gary Cleland
Published 26 Mar 2024
Corporate Communications

We advise high-profile international companies and organisations on a range of communications issues in complicated commercial and regulatory environments.

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In the past 24 hours at the time of writing, a brief glance at the headlines across a selection of news publications paints a picture of a world largely confused by the potential of artificial intelligence (AI).

AI will improve football coaching.

AI will create millions of jobs. AI will make millions of people unemployed.

AI will unlock the cures to killer diseases. AI will unleash nuclear war.

AI – potentially the saviour of humankind, if it doesn’t destroy us.

It’s a lot to wrestle with and while it has provided the wannabe philosopher-class of communications professional with a lot to talk about, arguably a lot of the conversation has failed to help the head-scratching client plan their year ahead.

I argue that, as an agency, our immediate AI mission is no different at this stage to our other functions – how can we provide value and impact to our clients?

To this end, Hanover has launched a partnership with InferenceCloud – an AI provider with years of experience producing tools squarely focussed on communicators.

InferenceCloud was co-founded by Mark Seall, formerly head of Digital, Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence at Siemens.

We have a suite of tools designed to help communicators with today’s job, while they’re planning for tomorrow.

In that spirit, here are five things I would advise communicators to consider while scratching their heads over AI.

First – ignore those who are overly cynical. New technologies inevitably have their evangelists, and it does feel as though we’ve heard it all before when it comes to transformative new capabilities.

This is real, the potential is enormous and it will transform a lot of what we do in communications. Do we know exactly what and how it will do it? Of course not. But the scope of what is and will be possible is too incredible not to make an enormous difference.

But – and this is the second point – the pace of change and adoption of new technologies is always slower than those at the forefront of the sector expect. Simply, if people feel their current way of working is fine for them, they won’t necessarily change it just because something new comes along. Video conference was widely available pre-COVID, and most meetings still revolved around conference calls. Because it seemed to work, until it didn’t. There is less need for panic than we may be led to believe.

Your starting point (and my third point) should therefore be which are the bits of your job which don’t work effectively for you. Typically we find these are things which either take up more time than most comms leaders would like, or cost a lot of money relative to the return. Often when working with communications functions, we will audit these functions/services and use that as a starting point to make an immediate difference. This is not about removing people, this is about freeing people to do what they are best at – and so improving the overall performance of a team.

Often we will find that smart use of AI can make a difference in research and insights, audience analysis, reporting, measurement and planning. Smart, quick, actionable results.

Fourth – think about those areas of the job when you must act quickly – for me, that often means issues management. A considered use of AI tools can help your organisation be better prepared, and respond more effectively, to an issue when it breaks – as well as track the issue and predict how it will play out more accurately.

Embedding AI into your issues preparedness work, including desk top simulations and your crisis response protocols, will soon be considered essential.

And finally, most of the above describes the first wave of a new technology – namely when it is used to improve the things that we already do. What is impossible to predict fully are the ways in which we will do things differently – the new opportunities that simply didn’t exist before, and the new threats to reputation that such powerful technology enables.

So execute for today but plan for tomorrow – build time within your organisation, and through your network and wider collaborations, to talk about what might be coming next. Because it is coming.

© Hanover Communications 2024, an AVENIR GLOBAL company. All rights reserved.